Updated at: 05-08-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

If you’ve ever used “sleep” while sewing, you might’ve been confused. Napping? While working on a sewing project, to be precise. In spite of the fact that certain sewing instructions may recommend a midday nap, the word “nap” has a different meaning among sewers.

What, if anything, other than a nap does the term “nap” indicate when applied to the context of sewing?

Far simpler than you probably imagine. That’s the way the fabric’s lofty strands are placed, so to speak. According to Jennie Kermode’s “What Does With or Without Nap Mean[s]?” published on Start Sewing, a fabric without nap is one that displays the same appearance in both the horizontal and vertical positions.

Napped fabrics have their fibers aligned in one way, therefore their look changes depending on how they are oriented. It is possible to detect nap in fabric by touching it or by utilizing light, even if the effect is subtle.

Sewing projects can be given an elegant gloss by using napped fabrics such as velvet, velour, fleece, and corduroy. In the following sections, we will discuss in detail the techniques of napping and sewing. Take a look!

Fabrics with Nap

According to the Sew Guide article “What is NAP?; Tips on sewing fabric with nap,” there are some fabrics that always have nap due to their production method.

What Is the Nap of a Fabric? : Sewing, Sketching & Fabric Care - YouTube

Fabrics with nap are great to work with because of their pleasant sheen and plush feel. Fabrics in this assortment may include, but are not limited to: (click on the name to see a project utilizing that fabric).

  • Velour
  • Velvet
  • Fleece
  • Corduroy
  • Adoption of synthetic fur as a fashion staple
  • Those are brushed denims, to put it simply.
  • Flannel
  • Fake suede produced from man-made fibers
  • Ultra-long-staple twill
  • Material similar to terry towels

How to Tell if a Fabric Has Nap

Since nap should always face the same way in a sewing job, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between napped and napless fabrics. Sometimes it’s easy to tell which way the fibers are oriented, and sometimes it’s not so obvious.

Sometimes it might be tricky to determine whether or not a fabric has nap. Please don’t fret; the situation is under control. The two methods described in “What is NAP?” will help you determine whether or not a fabric has nap with minimal effort.

You may stop stressing over whether or not your fabric cuts and arrangements are proper. If you follow these tried-and-true methods, you may rest assured that you will never get lost.

Method 1: Touch

  1. Carefully and slowly, move your hand across the fabric in both directions.
  2. Whether or not a fabric has nap, the fibers will feel smooth in one direction (downward, also known as “downward”) and slightly rough in the other (against nap, also known as “upward”).

Method 2: Light

  1. Take your fabric outside and dry it in the sun.
  2. Gentle strokes in one direction down the fabric. The fabric is deceptively lightweight.
  3. To achieve this, try stroking the fabric in the other way. Examine the fabric to check if the shade is lighter, darker, or consistent.
  4. You can tell if a fabric has a nap by running your palm across it and seeing a change in the direction of the light. In this scenario, the “lighter” color indicates that your hand moved in the “down” (or “downward”) direction of the sleep. To the naked eye, raised or counterclockwise-moving hands will look darker.
  5. When there is no discernible change in the amount of light that passes through after running your palm across the fabric, we say that the fabric lacks nap.

Pattern Envelopes and Nap

Fabric requirements will vary depending on whether the design calls for “with nap” or “without nap” fabric, which is typically indicated on the pattern envelope. It’s common for fabric to be cut in many directions.

Pattern envelopes will typically specify “with nap” or “without nap” cloth, and your fabric requirements will vary accordingly. Fabrics are frequently cut in more than one direction.

Check If Your Fabric Has Nap

You can feel the nap by running your hand along the right side of the fabric. The nap feels smooth and flat against the hairs, and the hairs themselves are flat and silky, although with a slight roughness.

There are a few ways to tell if a cloth has a nap:

Once the fabric is out flat, you can brush it with your hand. When brushing fabric, always do so in the opposite direction of the grain. The nap of a fabric affects how it looks when brushed.

Folding a long piece of cloth in half lengthwise creates a triangle with the fabric facing down in one quadrant and up in the other. If the fabric has a nap, it will appear to have gradations of the same color rather than a uniform tone.

What Does With Nap Mean In Sewing - Krostrade

What Is A Nap In Sewing Terms

In sewing, “with nap” means uniformly laying up your fabric pieces. All of the pattern pieces should be cut and laid down along the direction of the weave of the napped fabric.

Napped fabrics have threads and a texture that are only aligned in one direction because of the way they are woven. Even though the pattern patterns suggest there is no sleep, the components can be cut in any direction.

The grainline of the cloth is all that will be considered.

What Does Nap Mean On A Sewing Pattern?

To get ready for the nap, study the pattern and determine how much fabric will be required. If you don’t cut your fabric in the same way as the rest of the cloth, you might not have enough left over for your pattern pieces.

If the pattern calls for it, cut the sections with nap away from you. Keep this in mind while you assemble the item, as some wearers will inevitably switch up their stance and the way the item hangs as a result.

How Do You Cut Fabric With A Nap?

  1. Take note of the direction in which the fabric feels smoothest when you run your palm over it.
  2. Napping requires the pattern pieces to be placed down such that they are all facing the same way.
  3. Most napped fabric cutting instructions will provide a pattern layout diagram to help guide you through the process.
  4. Utilize fine shears and the pattern arrangement sketch to ensure a professional finish.
  5. For more complex tasks, a cutting mat and rotary cutter will come in handy.

Which Types Of Fabrics Have A Nap?

Synthetic suede, flannel, Terry cloth, corduroy, and velour are all examples of nap-inducing fabrics. Some of these materials, like fake fur, have a clear nap orientation that can be identified by the direction in which the fibers move.

Does all fabric have a nap?

Napped fabric is defined as having a directional look or texture. Therefore, rubbing the material in one direction or holding it in a certain way can have different effects.

How to tell if the fabric is napped:

  1. The nap should be facing away from you if the fabric’s color begins to darken.
  2. If these checks didn’t reveal any alterations in texture or color, it’s possible that your material doesn’t nap.

How Do I Know If My Fabric Is Napping?

Not having a nap means that the fabric’s texture and color won’t alter when you run your hand over it. Fabric napping occurs frequently and is expected on textured fabrics like velvet, fleece, and flannel.

You can tell if you have a napped fabric by using the pattern’s design as a guide. However, keep in mind that if this step is skipped, the finished product could have glaring color differences.

What Will Happen If You Did Not Prepare Your Fabric Before Cutting And Sewing?

A good night’s sleep is essential for proficient sewing because it affects the final product. Because the finished garment will be a different hue, you must cut and arrange your materials consistently.

It’s also important to remember that prewashing your fabric is an option for getting it ready. Prewashing the cloth is a good way to see if the colors will run before you buy it.

Read our tutorial on prewashing fabric to get the lowdown on this crucial stage of the sewing process.

Working with nap and pile | Colette Blog


Are we in agreement that this article was informative? We just learned that in sewing, it’s called “nap” when you go in the direction of the weave.

Nap is used to cut and assemble the pattern parts to ensure a uniform appearance. You can determine the nap orientation by running your fingers over the fabric and feeling the threads, or by looking for a variation in the shade.

Don’t be hesitant to get in touch with us if you have any further inquiries. You can find more information on sewing on our blog if that’s something you’re interested in.