Understanding Fabric Grain: The Difference with Knits

Yes, we're still talking fabric grain today! And if you sew, then you are probably aware that it's a whole new ballgame when you switch from woven fabrics to knits. If you're less familiar with knits, you can swing by this post to learn a little more about some of the different kinds of knits and what projects they might be useful for. But in today's post, we'll give you a brief rundown of how grain works in knit fabrics.

Understanding Fabric Grain: The Difference with Knits

Knit Grain Terminology

Much like a woven fabric, knits also have straight and cross grains, but the terminology is a little different. It's important to keep in mind that some knits will behave at least a little differently than others. All knits are NOT created equal. 

That said, knits are mostly made up of a bunch of loops that are "knitted" together to create the fabric. On a knit, the straight grain is a series of loops that are also referred to as the wales, or ribs. These ribs will form lines that run parallel to the selvage edge. Now, some of these knits are like wovens in that this direction of grain will have little to no stretch from selvage to selvage. And some (like cotton lycra blends) will have a great deal of stretch.

The cross grain of a knit fabric is made up of a series of loops called the courses, or loops. This is also where you will find the majority of stretch in any fabric, but in knits especially. Like wovens, a vast majority of your garment sewing will put the cross grain going from side to side on your pattern pieces. But we'll talk more about that next week.

Finding the Grain

Thankfully, finding the grain of a knit fabric is usually relatively easy. If you don't have a selvage edge, look at the fabric closely.

With most knits, you should be able to see the ribs that run parallel to the selvage. If you can't, just tug on the fabric a little. It should help you to see the ribs better. Like this:

Once you have that figured out, you're on your way! Join us next week when we talk pattern layout! It'll be fun! 

In the meantime, please join us in our Facebook group for fun and sharing! And I'll see you next week!
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.