Thanks for all the feedback on the Sew-Along! I really appreciate everyone’s comments, especially those that spoke up with what they didn’t like. You’re not offending me! It’s great to hear all the little ways I could make it better next time.
Today’s question: when can you ignore the grainline? When can you disregard the little arrows on your pattern pieces and cut them any direction you like? Misty asked the question a little while ago, and while I gave it my best shot answering her, I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks! I feel like this could turn into a heated debate, let’s start with pros and cons!
Are you a beginner and perhaps wondering what we mean by grainline? Let me explain!
Here’s what a grainline looks like, marked on your pattern piece:
A grainline is usually an arrow, printed on your pattern piece, that tells you how to align the grain of your fabric. The grain is the lengthwise direction of your fabric, running parallel to the selvage. Think of a vertically striped fabric, where the stripes go up and down the fabric. That’s what the grainline would look like, if you could see it!
Take a look at this striped fabric below. See how the grainline arrows are following the direction of the stripes? Striped fabric makes it easy to see where the grainline is.
Plaids, and other vertically printed or textured fabrics make it easy to see the grainline. Polka dots, or directional prints will also show you the grain of the fabric.
In this photo I’m folding the pattern piece along the grainline, so it’s easy to line it up along a stripe:
Opposite to the lengthwise grain, is the crosswise grain. The crosswise grain runs across the width – that’s an easy way to remember the difference!
This plaid fabric has a bold cream stripe on the crossgrain, and a subtle stripe on the lengthwise grain. How do we know which is which? Because the lengthwise grain is parallel to the selvage. (Selvedge if you prefer.)
When you see diagonal stripes or plaids, that usually means the fabric is cut on the bias. True bias refers to a 45 degree angle from the grainline – so it’s exactly halfway between the lengthwise grain and the crosswise grain.
These collar pieces are cut on the bias, which forms diagonal plaid lines.
Here’s what it looked like when we cut it out. When it’s essential to cut pattern pieces on the bias, it will be marked on the pattern pieces and shown on the cutting layouts.
Ok! Now that we know what the grainline is, when do we have to follow it? Do you always have to follow the little arrows? When can you shift the grain of the pieces?
You can read what I wrote back to Misty here, but I want to hear your thoughts! Let’s give Misty a proper answer from the group, instead of just one person’s opinion.
Is the grainline non-negotiable, or can we bend the rules now and then? Am I crazy for even suggesting such a thing? Let’s discuss!