Selvage, Grain and Bias

Fall is a great time to work on sewing projects for the holidays. Before I show you two fun and easy Christmas projects, let's learn about selvage, grain, and bias.

If you are learning how to sew, selvage, grain and bias are three words you should be familiar with. They are commonly used in sewing tutorials as well as in store bought patterns. They may sound confusing at first, but it is worth learning these terms before you make your first cut. Understanding them will help you make your sewing projects great!

When you buy fabric, it comes in a folded in half lengthwise and wrapped around a bolt.

For this fabric, the fold is on the left hand side.


The selvages are the finished edges. They are finished so the fabric doesn't fray or unravel. Many times the name of the fabric manufacturer or design are printed along the selvage.

Grain or Lengthwise Grain

The grain of the fabric is parallel to the fold and selvages.

If you pull the fabric in the direction of the grain there isn't much give. If you pull side to side, perpendicular to the grain, the fabric will stretch more.

Most store bought patterns will show a grain line on the pattern pieces. It's important to make sure the grain line is parallel to the fold and selvages of your fabric, especially if you are making clothing. You are more likely to need a little give side to side around you instead of up and down.


The bias of a fabric is at a 45 degree angle to the selvage.

Try to stretch your fabric on the bias. It has a lot of give.

Quilters frequently use bias strips to bind the edges of a quilt. You can make your own, or purchase pre-made bias tape.

Check back on Wednesday for a tutorial about how to make a stunning reversible Christmas tree skirt.

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The Chilly Dog: Selvage, Grain and Bias
Selvage, Grain and Bias
The Chilly Dog
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