How To Find The Grain Of Fabric [FAQs]

How To Find The Grain Of Fabric

When sewing or working with fabric, it’s important to find the grain of the fabric. The grain determines how the fabric will hang, drape, and stretch, and it can affect how your finished project looks and fits. Finding the grain of fabric may seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, you can easily identify it.

Step 1: Identify the Selvage Edge

The selvage edge is the tightly woven edge of the fabric that runs parallel to the grain. It’s usually a different color or texture than the rest of the fabric and may have information printed on it, such as the manufacturer’s name or the fabric content.

Step 2: Pull the Fabric

Hold the fabric at both ends of the selvage edge and gently pull. You should feel resistance in one direction, which is the direction of the grain. The other direction will feel looser and may stretch more easily; this is the cross-grain.

Step 3: Check the Bias

The bias is the diagonal direction of the fabric. To find it, fold the fabric corner to corner, forming a triangle. The bias runs along the fold. This direction is important if you’re working with bias-cut garments or projects that require stretch.

Step 4: Test with a Pin

Insert a pin through the fabric in the direction of the grain. The pin should slide through easily in the correct direction and feel resistant or tug in the other direction. This test can be especially helpful if the selvage edge is missing or hard to identify.

Step 5: Double Check with a Ruler

Measure the distance between the selvage edges at both ends of the fabric. The distance should be the same, indicating that the fabric is running parallel to the grain. If the distance is different, the fabric may be off-grain.


What is off-grain fabric?

Off-grain fabric occurs when the threads of the fabric are not running parallel to the selvage edge. This can happen during manufacturing or due to stretching or pulling during handling or storage.

Can I use off-grain fabric for my project?

It’s not recommended to use off-grain fabric for sewing projects, as it can affect the fit and drape of the finished garment. However, it can be used for non-sewing projects such as crafts or decor.

What is the difference between the lengthwise grain and the cross-grain?

The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage edge, while the cross-grain runs perpendicular to it. The lengthwise grain is generally more stable than the cross-grain and is used for the main body of the garment, while the cross-grain is often used for cuffs, collars, and other smaller areas.

What projects benefit from using bias-cut fabric?

Bias-cut fabric is great for projects that require stretch or drape, such as bias tape, bias binding, or bias-cut skirts and dresses.

Can I find the grain of knit fabric using these steps?

Yes, these steps can be used for knit fabric as well. However, knit fabric may have more stretch in all directions, so it’s important to pay attention to the amount of stretch and use the grain as a guide.

Should I prewash my fabric before finding the grain?

It’s recommended to prewash your fabric before finding the grain, as some fabrics may shrink or change shape after washing. This can affect the grain and make it more difficult to find.

How do I straighten off-grain fabric?

To straighten off-grain fabric, gently pull it in the direction of the grain until it is straight. You can use a ruler or measuring tape to check that the fabric is now running parallel to the selvage edge.

What tools do I need to find the grain of fabric?

You’ll need a ruler or measuring tape, pins, and the fabric you’re working with. It can also be helpful to have a cutting mat or flat surface to work on.


By finding the grain of fabric, you can ensure that your finished project will hang and drape properly and fit well. It can also help you avoid frustrating mistakes such as puckering or stretching.


When cutting your fabric, be sure to follow the grain to ensure that your pieces are all aligned properly. You can also mark the grain with a fabric pen or chalk to make it easier to identify during the sewing process.


Identifying the grain of fabric is an important step in any sewing or fabric project. By following these simple steps, you can find the grain easily and ensure a successful finished product.

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