What does Nap have to do with Sewing?
It’s interesting how different crafts have their own vocabulary. Sewing is no different. So, when someone asks about a nap, what are they talking about? Do they really want to know about an afternoon snooze? No, of course not. The nap in sewing refers to a fabric’s texture.
Fabrics with Nap
There are many different fabrics that have nap. Some include velour, velvet, corduroy, fleece, and faux fur. How can you tell if a piece of fabric has nap? It is actually easy. Take your hand and run it over the fabric in a downward motion. Does the fabric’s texture feel smooth? Now, run your hand in the opposite direction. Does the fabric’s texture feel rough and appear to change its color? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then that fabric has nap. As you probably guessed, this type of fabric is all about direction. The smooth side is considered to be the “with nap” direction and the rough side – the “against nap”.
Why is this Important?
Understanding nap in sewing is important for several reasons. When it comes to laying out your pattern, it is essential that the nap is running in the same direction. If you do not have the nap running in the same way, your pieces aren’t going to match. Most of us have made this mistake at least once.
It’s necessary to understand nap when reading your pattern. In most cases, the pattern will state the nap direction. It’s written “with nap” or “against nap”. This tells you how to lay your pattern on your fabric. It also tells you how much fabric you’ll need. When working with napped fabric, you will find that you need more fabric. Why? When working with fabric that does not have nap, the pattern pieces can be placed anywhere (the exception being printed fabric). However, because you are working with napped fabric, the pattern pieces can only go one direction.
I am sure you have heard the saying “measure twice, cut once.” When it comes to working with napped fabric, lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric first. Before cutting, check again to make sure the nap is running in the same direction. It’s easy to get fabric turned around when laying out a pattern. Once you are sure, pin the pattern in place. You may want to peek one more time before you do the cut.
Time to Sew
As long as your pieces are cut out correctly, your project will come out great. If you are still a little unsure, consider a project with only a few pieces. You will master using fabric with nap in no time.
How to Sew With Nap Fabric: Video