Understanding fabric terms cans sometimes be a bit of a headache, there are so many different terms and words that you might have heard of with different meanings. For example, a nap, for me my first thoughts on the word nap is “having a little sleep” but then in regards to sewing that doesn’t really make any sense. Some fabrics have a pile, like velvet, velour, and corduroy, the hairs are not quite vertical but lie in a particular direction, known as “nap”. You can feel the nap when you lightly run your hand long-ways over the right side of the fabric, it will feel smoother in one direction than the other.
Understanding the nap and which direction it runs is very important in dressmaking, soft furnishings and with upholstery, for example if you were making a velvet jacket with no design on the fabric you might think you could cut the pieces out however you wanted… well when it comes to fabric with a nap that is not something you can do. It is important to cut the pieces so when the garment is put together the nap runs in the same direction. Now you might be thinking ” how am I meant to be able to tell which direction each piece will be going when I’m cutting them out?” well the simple answer to that is the pattern will tell you. On a dress pattern such as New Look or Simplicity, there will be different marks on the pattern telling you which angle to place the pattern, there will also be a drawing showing you how to lay out your patterns on your fabric, and there may in fact be a different cutting layout for a fabric with a nap. The reverse of the pattern which quotes the amount of fabric may even tell you if you need more fabric for a fabric with a nap. The same may apply for a fabric with a pattern which only runs in one direction.
Thinking about the nap when curtain making is a little easier as all you really have to think about is how you want the nap to run when your curtains are complete, although you may want to think about the nap when joining fabrics.
Understanding different terms within sewing make sewing feel less scary as you are more aware of what each word means.
If you need any additional information please feel free to contact us where we will do our best to help.