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What Is Nap In Sewing? Find Out Here!

It is not unusual for a new sewing machine to have a nap in the cloth, but if you sew a lot of handbags, project bags, or any other type of bag, you might find that the nap can get in the way.

A nap is an area on a woven fabric that has an appearance different from the rest of the fabric. When sewing by hand, a nap is the thickest part of a fabric.

If you want to use the grainline in your pattern, you need to cut a piece of fabric off the bolt, fold it in half lengthwise (right sides together). So that the nap falls in the middle, and then cut out your pattern piece, making sure to align the grainline with the fold.

To nap is to give the fabric on the face side a distinct design by raising the nap. This is done by rubbing the fabric with a brush or comb. To create a nap on the fabric you can press the fabric or brush it in the desired direction of the nap. You can use a nap on both sides of the fabric to create a two-toned look.    

How can you find the nap of a fabric?

There is a multitude of great tools out there for cutting and sewing fabric, from long-range lasers to handheld machines designed to cut fabric by hand. But how do you find the nap of a fabric?

As you can imagine, figuring out the nap of fabric is a pretty important skill, particularly if you’re into sewing. It allows you to design your own pattern and know exactly what it will look like when it’s made.

Despite the name, the nap isn’t the part of the fabric that shows when you cut it open, it’s the part of the fabric that lies flat when you fold it. You can tell a good nap from a bad nap by the way the fabric lies flat when you fold it.

A nap is a pile or layer of fabric that causes the surface to which it is attached to appear as if it is raised or as if it has a texture.

Now, you can find the nap in seconds with a nifty little device. The one that we show you today is called the Nap-Away.

Sewing fabric with a nap

When using a sewing machine, the fabric should be placed such that the nap lies in the same direction as the stitching line.

You can use a nap layout, which means the fabric’s pattern is placed in a specific direction, to prevent the fabric from becoming loose.

There are also many sewing techniques and they are very useful. One can do many things with the help of these techniques. The big benefit of these techniques is that it is easy to sew fabric.

It is because while sewing a straight stitch the fabric can be difficult to handle, but with the help of these techniques, it will be much easier to sew.

How to:

  • You can sew fabric with a nap when the stitches are not shown on one side of the fabric. An example of fabrics where you can sew with a nap is quilted. You can sew with a nap on fabrics that can tolerate the extra thickness of the threads.
  • To sew fabric with nap, you should use the zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. The zigzag stitch helps to make the fabric look like it has a nap. It really can be a great help to you.
  • If you have a sewing machine that has a variety of stitches to choose from, you can use a simple zigzag stitch.
  • If you have a serger or overlock machine, you can use a 3-thread overlock stitch. In both cases, your fabric will be sewn with the “nap” facing the ground in a manner that doesn’t create a ridge on the right side of the fabric.

Understanding fabric nap for sewing projects

What is a fabric nap? Fabric nap is a term used to describe the slight waviness of fabric that occurs when the threads of the fabric are not all aligned the same way.

It’s not a problem in itself, unless the fabric has a nap in it, in which case it could cause problems with sewing projects.

Fabric nap is the result of the fabric’s grain running at an angle. The grain is the direction in which the fabric was woven. With the grain running at an angle, you see the appearance of a nap on one side of the fabric.

Fabric naps can be both good and bad. It can be an excellent feature, helping the fabric remain flat, but when it is too much, it can be a design flaw. Nap is not a matter of preference, though a little goes a long way.

Generally, fabric nap refers to the direction that threads that compose the cloth are running in.

Fabrics are woven in one of two ways:

  • The warp is dominant, with the weft running on the top or vice versa.
  • The fabric nap determines the way the fabric will drape and how it will fray.

Why is nap important in sewing?

Here’s why:

1. The pile or nap refers to the direction in which the fibers in the fabric grow. This is usually aligned with the direction in which the fabric is woven.

This is important for sewing because it helps the threads in the fabric and the thread in the needle grip and not slide against each other.

2. It makes the fabric not to show unevenness. It prevents the fabric from getting caught up in the machine. It prevents you from having to manually push the fabric through the machine.

3. Naps are fabric fibers that are pushed up from the surface of the cloth, creating contrast in color and a rough texture.

4. It is a very fine line on the fabric. It should be matched to a specific direction on another fabric, such as the nap of a rug.

5. The nap is a super-useful tool for any sewing operation, especially for those of us who aren’t confident enough to try a complicated project or new technique.

When used right, the nap can be used as a guide in several ways: as a visual guide to get pin positions correct, as a way to check the neatness of your stitches, and as a way for you to make sure your garment is the right size.

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.View Author posts

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