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FirecrackerKTM | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

What kind of fabrics have a nap other than velvet/velveteens? I don’t really know much about it. I haven’t had any issues with cutting something out the wrong way, I’m just curious if I should pay more attention.


  1. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #1

    Nap refers to raised pile made during the weaving process. If you think about fur being a napped "fabric", it sort of helps explain nap in a elementary sort of way. The most obvious ones that come easily to mind are terry cloth, velvet, chenille, mohair and cashmere. That's not a complete list. When you rub your hand over a napped fabric, you can feel the difference and you can also see the difference in the way the light strikes the fabric -- like when you run a vacuum over a plush carpet. If you are really new and you are trying to interpret a pattern package back when purchasing/cutting fabric, be sure you treat stripes and most plaids and prints as "napped" fabric for cutting purposes. They are called one-way prints.Hope this helps.

    1. FirecrackerKTM | | #2

      I don't know if you could call me new or not. I've been sewing for a couple of years, but it's been totally by the seat of my pants. I have a relatively good success rate now, and most of my previous issues were with fitting rather than any problems nap may have caused.I haven't laid out prints that way though, and I can't seem to tell a difference. They don't look weird or anything.

      1. starzoe | | #3

        Fabrics with a nap - the corduroys, velvet etc., the ones with a soft hand should be cut with the top of the garment on the "rough' direction. It is quite natural to stroke the fabric and expect that the soft direction should be from the top down but that is not the case. You get a far greater sheen and less crush factor if you do the opposite.This information has served me well, it came from an old lady fifty years ago who still sewed her own clothes and at one time was a hat maker. She taught a course at the "Y".

  2. fiberfan | | #4

    Some sandwashed/sueded fabrics will have a nap.  Not all will have a nap and it will be subtle on those that do.


    1. FirecrackerKTM | | #5

      So if I can't tell, then I shouldn't worry about it?

      1. fiberfan | | #6

        If in doubt, lay the fabric so you can see both directions at once.  If you can't see a difference, treat the fabric as one without a nap.  I haven't seen this subtle nap very often but I sewed a rayon dress last fall with one that would have been unwearable if I hadn't cut it right.  Laying flat on the cutting table it was hard to see but when I looked at it a bit away in a good light, the difference wasn't quite so subtle.


        1. FirecrackerKTM | | #7

          so what happens if you don't cut it right? does it just gather and pucker as you sew?

          1. fiberfan | | #8

            There are no puckers or gathers, just parts of a garment that look slightly different.


          2. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #9

            Napped fabrics will appear to be of different hues if they are not cut in the same direction. I.E., you will have light and dark pieces when you sew them. The corduroy princess style dress I made in the 10th grade would have been a disaster had it all not been cut in the same direction. Back to the printed fabrics above --- many prints are directional. For instance, I am thinking about a novelty print that had airplanes on it that I saw as a child. A little boy in my 6th grade class had a shirt made of it. The two front panels were cut going in different directions and one side had right side up airplanes and the other side had upside down airplanes. I can still see that shirt and recall the teasing that poor kid took from some of the crueler kids.

          3. Beavette | | #10

            I got a set of velvet curtains from my sister-in-law and hung them up in my room. One panel was darker than the other hanging up only because the panels were cut with the nap going different directions. I never noticed this when they hung in her house, because the lighting was different. It makes a difference.

      2. Ralphetta | | #11

        Others, or even you, might be able to see the difference once it's finished and you've done all that work. Sometimes you can just take the uncut yardage and drape it up and around something and then stand back and look. One side has the nap going up and the other going down. In sunlight or strong light the difference is often striking. My feeling is, why take the chance? If possible to cut it all one way I make an effort to do so.

        1. FirecrackerKTM | | #13

          No that makes sense ... what I meant was, if I can't tell even after looking really hard, then it must not matter?

          1. Ralphetta | | #14

            There is a point where you do have to trust your eye, so I guess the answer is yes. I thought you were saying that you couldn't always see the difference when others did, sorry.

  3. Palady | | #12

    Just a thought.  Once identifying a nap fabric is mastered, it can be used as a design element.  Cuffs, collars, pockets - body and/or flaps, fashion sections, are some examples of having it work in the sewists favor.

    The factor is in the planning.


  4. jjgg | | #15

    many fabrics can have a 'nap' You have to look at the fabrics under different lighting conditions having one piece going 'up' and the other going 'down' to see if there is a difference in the sheen or reflection of light on the fabric. It's always best to cut all pattern pieces in the same direction, UNLESS, as someone else mentioned you are using this as a design interest. Gored skirts can look lovely with one piece going up and the next down. - You can also do this with a crepe back satin, use one side for one piece and flip it over for the next.

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