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How to Cut Fabric Grain

Use this tutorial to learn about fabric grain, what it is and how to know selvage, lengthwise grain, and crosswise grain.


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How To Projects > Quilting > Fabric Grain

How to Cut Fabric on/with Grain
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How to determine grain of fabric for cutting on the grain: Fabric is basically a woven product created from weaving thread fibers on a loom. If you think about how a loom works, it starts with a set of main threads that are placed into the loom extending from the start to the finish of the final product. Then, additional thread is woven through these main threads back and forth from side to side. With that in mind, let’s look at fabric grain. (Photo G-1)

Your fabric has names for these two directions; lengthwise grain and crosswise grain. The lengthwise grain is the main thread fibers that run the full length of the product. The crosswise grain is the thread fibers that weave back and forth, side to side. If you pull at the fabric along the lengthwise grain, you will notice that it does not move much. This is because it is the more structured, “skeleton” of the weave. If you pull at the fabric along the crosswise grain, you will notice that it will move quite a bit more and if you pull too hard, you can even alter the fabric a bit. These differences in structure are why you should pay attention to fabric grain instructions in your projects to ensure they come out correctly.

The edges of the product, where the threads are woven back and forth, are bound very tightly. This tightly bound edge is called the selvage edge. The salvage edge runs along the lengthwise grain of the fabric. It is good not to use the selvage edge in your sewing because it is different than the rest of the fabric. Usually you will want to cut it off or avoid laying your pattern over that edge.

Another direction that is often talked about and used in sewing is the “bias”. The bias is the direction that is at a 45 degree angle across the fabric from the lengthwise grain or the crosswise grain.

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