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Ready-to-Wear Grainline

Lynnelle | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi All,

I have a pair of great fitting RTW pants that suffered a terrible bleach spill.  Because I love how they fit, I picked all of the seams apart and want to use the pieces to make a pattern for a new pair of pants.  I traced the front and back onto pattern paper and added a seam allowance.  How do I determine the grainline so that the pants hang straight?

Thanks much,





  1. user-51823 | | #1

    ditto. pulling the thread will give you the true grainline. if the thread breaks, it is possible to pick it out with a pin and keep going and at least get enough of a ripple to mark with a sharpie marker (since the pants are ruined anyway.
    don't be surprised if the new pants take a few wearings to get broken in to hang the same way, and be sure to use a fabric with similar weight and drape.

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    Great advice so far...here's another way: pinch the center top of each piece and let it drape into a vertical fold. Most fabrics will hang into a fold along the true grain; you can check it as you lay it on the ironing board and then press it for a line.

    1. Lynnelle | | #4

      Hi All,

      Thank you for the advice.  I copied the pieces onto pattern paper.  How do I transfer the grainline that I find on the fabric pieces onto paper?  I

      Thank you again.


      1. HeartFire2 | | #5

        As the previous poster said, you can fold the pattern in half matching the side seam lines and crease the paper, that is your grain line.One thing to be careful with in pulling a thread on the ready to wear pants is that occasionally RTW stuff is NOT cut on the straight grain - meaning that perhaps the fabric they used was not on grain. Did you ever have a pair of pants that just didn't hang right? one leg was always twisted a bit? thats because the grain line was off. There really is no mystery about grain lines, they should run straight up and down unless it is on the bias, then at a 45* angle. If your pattern is very unbalanced because of your shape, then you wouldn't fold the pattern in half. - here you can fold so that the side seams at the hem are matching and the hem is level (I hope I'm making sense here) - its where you want the crease sown the center front of the pants to be - that should always be on the straight grain.

        1. Lynnelle | | #6

          Yes, that makes total sense.  The thing is, I already picked them apart so I don't have any side seams or hems to compare.  I will try to follow the weave as close as possible and make a test pair first.

          Thank you again!


      2. From my Stash.... | | #7

        All the advice about folding the leg in half vertically and matching the side seams is correct. Since you've traced the pants onto paper, try this which is just another way  of doing  the same thing, but it might make you feel more comfortable.

        Front of the pants:

        1. measure across the bottom of the pant leg and mark the half-way point.

         2.a. If there are pleats in the pants, draw a straight line from the bottom of the inner dart (one closest to your center seam) to the center mark made in point 1. This way the pants should hang straight down the front of your leg from the dart. 

         If you do not have a dart on the front of the pants,  measure the distance on a pair of pants that do have darts and that fit you well, and then transfer that distance  from the center front to your paper pattern. Draw a straight line between this mark with the bottom mark.


        b If you do not have any pants with pleats, (bear with me on this) the grain line should line up vertically with your bust point so that there is a visually pleasing line up and down your body. Try on a shirt with a center front line and measure the distance horizontally from the center seam of the top to your bust point (on most people, this will be between 4 to 6 inches). Transfer this tdistance to the center front (again as measured from the center seam) on the paper pattern and join with the top and bottom marks.

        3. Test this line by folding the paper pattern to see that it folds smoothly in a straight line.


        For the Back:

        1. Measure the half-way point across the bottom of the pant leg as in the pants front. This is the bottom of your grain line.

        2. Since the front and back will meet at the side seams, fold the back pattern vertically in half matching at the bottom edges and at the crotch. This fold them is your grain line. Mark the edge of this fold as your grainline.

        Good luck with them,

        1. Lynnelle | | #8

          Wow, ok thanks!  That makes sense.  I will try it this weekend.  Thank you all again for your advice!


          1. From my Stash.... | | #9


            Hope this catches you before you start any cutting this weekend.

            When I reread what I wrote, I noticed that I left out one word that will change what you do on the back pant pattern. When you fold the leg and match at the crotch, do not match it at the crotch point, but rather the crotch line. (If you're not sure about this line, sit down on a flat surface and measure the distance from the surface to your waist). If the waistband of the pants sits at your waist, then measure down this distance from the waistband on the pattern and draw a horizontal line . This line is where you match the upper part of the pant leg. (If the waistline is to be lower, then reduce the distance from the waistband appropriately).  Doing this will ensure that your grainline is straight.

            Please accept my apologies for this oversight, I can only plead distraction from my DH.

            Best wishes 

  3. liselaure | | #3

    Hello Lynnelle,

    To find the grainline of pants, fold the front and the back legs in half matching the side seam to the inseam from hemline to kneeline.


  4. FitnessNut | | #10

    The grainline of pants is located at the mid-point between the side and inner leg seams at the knee and hem. You then connect these two points on your pattern and extend it to the waist. You don't have to do this on the fabric if you have already made the paper pattern. Just measure it on the paper. Measuring on fabric just creates distortions.

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