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Crosswise grain

lindamaries | Posted in General Discussion on

I’ve got a question?

When would a person want to use a crosswise grain instead of

lengthwise grain? I know the bias is intentionally used for flowing effects. Lengthwise is used when you realy want something to hang proper. But what about crosswise? I never used it intentionally, ever!


  1. rjf | | #1

    Good morning, lindamaries,

    Maybe you would use the crossgrain to take advantage of a border print.  If the fabric was fairly soft, it might work okay.           rjf

  2. BYDEZINE | | #2

    I use the crosswise grain all the time and it works perfectly well. as long as it is straight before you cut. for many bordered fabric you MUST use it, or lose the pattern.

    Consider the gorgeous drape of saris. they routinely use yards and yards of fabric softely pleated and it is the cross wise grain that hangs down.

    1. lindamaries | | #3

      I think now that I use crosswise grain in waistbands. I always lay the narrow width on the lengthwise grain and that makes the circumference of the waist on the crosswise grain. It gives it a little bit of a comfort stretch.

      1. ElonaM | | #4

        Sandra Betzina suggests that when you're working with shiny polyester fabrics, you get fewer puckered seams if you cut the garment on the crosswise, rather than lengthwise, grain (although she says that cutting on the bias is usually the best for this).

        1. CJoens | | #5


          may anyone tell me what the difference between crosswise grain and bias is?

          Thank you


          1. Tish | | #6

            Let's see-- first there's selvage.  It's like "self-edge" and it's the edges of the fabric where the fibers turn back and go the other way.  The selvage doesn't unravel.  The grain that runs from selvage to selvage is the cross-grain.  The long threads, or the warp, are the length-wise grain.  Bias is the diagonal, a 45% angle from the selvage.

          2. BYDEZINE | | #7

            plus, anything cut on the bias will  s  t  r  e  t  c  h.

          3. lindamaries | | #8

            I just wanted to add about the loom.

            The weaving loom has yarns stretched across it. On each side of the loom is a cylinder, one that holds the yarns and the other one winds the finished woven fabric. The yarns that are stretched are the lengthwise yarns or grain of the fabric. Then over and under and over and under goes the weaving. This yarn that weaves is the crosswise grain. It gets to the edge of the lengthwise yarns and has to turn around and come back weaving again. The edge is the selvage.

            The lengthwise yarns have to be tuff otherwise they will break during the weaving. This is what makes them sturdy and less likely to stretch. Making a garment so that the lengthwise grain goes up and down the body will assure that the garment will not stretch out of shape.

            Crosswise grain is somewhat stretchy, not as sturdy.

            And bias...wow...that is the diagonal of the crosswise and the lengthwise...and boy does that stretch.

  3. lin327 | | #9

    When I was in ryerson we were told to cut skirt on the crosswise grain because the crossgrain was sturdier and didn't stretch.   When I did a work term with a designer she said she always cut straight skirts that way.  She showed me a Karl Lagerfield cut on the crossgrain and another designer that I can't remember. (BTW- Did you know Lagerfield cut all his linings on the bias so they stretch and give rather than tear and rip.  I was in the Chanel shop and he's taken this method with him to Chanel.)  I always use the cross wise grain where I want extra strength and no stretching.  We called it cutting on the barrel.

    1. lindamaries | | #10

      Now, I'm confused. I always learned that the lengthwise grain which is parallel to the selvage, (the warp) is the sturdier of the two grains. It has to be because of the tension it must bear from stretching on the loom and also from being woven onto. The warp yarns are twisted tighter and have a bit more fiber in them so they can be put through the tension. This makes the warp tuffer and less stretchy. When the garment's center back and center front are allied with the warp, it makes for less drape and a sturdier, hold-the-shape garment.

      1. lin327 | | #11

        I dunno, but  that's what we were taught.  I prefer the selvedge for the centre back seam because the hang is nicer when the skirt is flared at the sides.  I think for straight skirts  and european tapered skirts it's so you don't get the baggy butt problem.   The warp stretches less across the bulges.   They do a lot of things different in europe.  In many sleeveless shift  dresses the centre back is not cut on the straight grain, they add a dart in the neck,  This adds ease across the back and prevents the dreaded neck gap.  Cutting on the barrel is also used for border prints, too.  Many of the fancy embroideries are done with the repeats on the selvedge.  When I do my own block prints I use the selvedge as a guide for repeats, and line them up so that everything is perpendicular and parallel. I don't always get too hung up on the grain, whether it's straight or cross, I use what I feel is best for what I'm making,  and how the creative urge moves me.

        1. rjf | | #12

          I thought they often use the same yarn for warp and weft!  So it seems to me that there wouldn't be a difference in strength but the warp threads will stay in parallel and be straight whereas the weft could go off kilter and not be perfectly straight.  Which just goes to show that there are very few fixed rules in sewing and if there were, who would enforce them?  Uh-oh, here comes the grainguy now.  Hide!!!


        2. lindamaries | | #14

          Okay, I'm going to try a skirt on the crosswise grain. Maybe I'll pick a border fabric. I'll try the selvage on the center back.

          I'll let you know what I think. Hey, if I never try something new

          how will I ever know???

          1. lin327 | | #16

            Oddly enough, I was in a vintage clothing store and saw a Jaques Fath day dress.  Not one seam was cut on either the straight-cross-or bias grain.  Each part was cut different from the other, and even across the bust and hips, they weren't on grain!  The dress shimmered like liquid copper and I think had he adhered to the grain lines the shimmer of the shot silk would have been lost!   I find a lot of inspiration in antique and vintage stores.

          2. Jean | | #17

            Now I'm confused. If the selvage edge is at the center back, how can the skirt be on the crossgrain of the fabric??

          3. BYDEZINE | | #18

            you are correct, they are confused ;-)

            If the selvage is the back seam the grain is lengthwise, if it was at the hem it would be crossgrain.

            maybe everyone needs a good cup of tea.

          4. lindamaries | | #19

            I know that what I said was confusing. Okay, I'll try to put the border print on the skirt portion and therefore the skirt will have the selvage running the length of the hem. Then, I'll do the bodice portion on the lengthwise grain so the selvage will run with the center back.

            I have some really nice daisy kingdom fabric in my stash that doesn't have too childish of a border on it to use. The pattern I'm thinking probably will fit well using the different grains.

            I'll let you guys know what becomes of the experiment.

          5. lin327 | | #21

            Sorry, I shall clear things up.  In school, we were taught to use the cross grain for straight and tapered skirts.  Also for border prints.

            MY personal preference is to have the selvedge buried in the centre back seam because  I make mostly flared skirts and the hang is nicer on the side seam.  I don't do that for border prints.  I almost never wear or make  straight or tapered skirts because my rear veiw is a bit expansive. 

            Please forgive me!  It's over 90 degrees and the heat is getting to me!

          6. Jean | | #23

            my rear veiw is a bit expansive.  and the heat is getting to me!

            There's a lot of both of those things going around lately! ;^D

            So no big deal. No reason to apologize.

      2. Tish | | #13

        Linda Maries, warp fibers can be tougher and heavier than weft fibers, but not necessarily.  Warp may or may not be under high tension during weaving, depending on the effect the weaver wants. For a densely packed, weft-faced fabric, the warp may be very lightweight.  Most of the weaving I do is with the same fiber in the warp and the weft, but part of the fun of having a loom is being able to experiment.

        1. lindamaries | | #15

          If I had another life I definitely go into designing new fabrics. I love going into this store named the Wet Seal and see all the new fabrics that designers are using for the more trendy fashions. Some of that fabric is so-o-o amazing.

          You have a loom?!?!?! Wow. Is it big?

          1. Tish | | #20

            Linda Maries, I didn't reply to your question about the loom when I read it because my dad called just as I was reading it.  I can read and talk, but not write and talk.  I didn't want you to think I was blowing off your question.

            Yes, I have a loom and it's a very small table loom.  My loom has four frames and cannot be expanded, nor is it possible to do custom tie-ups.  That's when you tie the frames to the levers so that you can weave complicated patterns a little more simply.  I just wove a Rose Path pattern that called for this pattern:

            Row 1, frame1Row 2, frame 2Row 3, frame 1Row 4, frame 2Row 5, frame 1Row 6, frames 1 & 3Row 7, frames 2 & 4Row 8, frame 3Row 9, frame 4Row 10, frame 3Row 11, frame 4Row 12, frame 3Row 13, frames 1 & 3Row 14, frames 2 & 4

            I can remember all that because I had to manipulate the frames individually.  With custom tie-ups I could have had separate levers for the doubles.  (I will photograph the fabric and try to post a picture.)

            The maximum width I can weave is 22 inches, though over 18 inches it is hard to keep the selvages from rolling inward. 

            I am a novice weaver; that's why I experiment as much as I do.  I am still learning how much difference minor variations in dressing the loom make in the finished fabric.  With all of its limitations, I am lucky to have this loom.  My brother-in-law bought it for my sister-in-law so she could weave a linen costume for him.  She has no interest in weaving her own fabric, so it hung on a wall for ten years.  They got it at a yard sale and were assured that it worked perfectly.  They "loaned" it to me and I found that it needed major repairs before I could work with it.  I spent about six months working at it off and on, and I still do a lot of tweeking here and there.  I am making it clear that I "own" all the repairs, so that they don't try to call in the "loan" any time soon.  A new loom, even a basic one like this, would cost $500 to $800, and I can't spend that on a hobby at this time in my financial life.

            I have done garment sewing, quiltmaking, embroidery, smocking, needlepoint, petitpoint, counted cross stitch, knitting and crochet, beginning at the age of four.  I have not gotten as much pure joy from any of those as I have from weaving.

          2. rjf | | #22

            Hi Tish,  I like the sounds of the treadling pattern but how did you thread the heddles?  I'll be looking for the picture, especially because I've heard "rose path" a lot but it still doesn't mean much without really seeing it....or maybe doing it!  I think it's not really an overshot but looks like it?  Did you use two shuttles, one for tabby and one for pattern?                     rjf

          3. Tish | | #24

            RJF, the threading pattern is 1,2,1,4,3,2,3,4.  I've been trying patterns from "A Handweaver's Pattern Book" by Marguerite Porter Davison.  Her description doesn't make clear to me exactly why a Rose Path is a Rose Path and not a Bird's Eye or a Shadow Twill.  She says the Rose Path family of patterns have a long history in Scandinavian weaving.  This particular pattern is deep chevrons and looks almost like the Bargello needlepoint that was so popular in the mid-seventies.  The finished fabric is deeply textured.  There is no separate tabby weaving in this pattern.  I've never woven anything like that.

            I'm going to try to get it photographed.  My dad has a digital camera and a Taunton New Media account.  Tomorrow I'll see if I can get him to play pictures with me.  If not, I'll get my 35mm film developed on a diskette.

          4. rjf | | #25

            Thanks, Tish.  That seems easy enough.  Lately, I've had to move heddles around because there were more 3's and 2's called for in the threading and I'm not that familiar with my new loom so it's a half day project.  But fun!  The new loom is a countermarch so when I read the treadling pattern, I have to turn it into 2,3,4; 1,3,4; 2,3,4; etc.  Or weave it upsidedown, but I need to see what I'm doing.

            Today promises to be another hot one so I think I'll go to the library and look at books on weaving.      Take care           rjf

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