Updated at: 01-06-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

You may have been perplexed if you’ve ever used the term “nap” while sewing. Napping? During the course of a sewing undertaking? Even while sewing patterns may encourage you to take a sleep in the middle of the day, the term “nap” has a different connotation in the sewing community.

What does “nap” imply in sewing if it doesn’t allude to a nap?

A lot easier than you might expect. This refers to the direction in which the elevated fibers of the fabric are arranged. Jennie Kermode, in her Start Sewing article “What Does With or Without Nap Mean[s]?” asserts that a fabric without nap is a fabric that looks the same regardless of its orientation.

Orientation of a cloth with a nap affects its appearance since its fibers are arranged in a single direction. Even if the visual effect is faint, there are a number of ways to tell if a cloth has nap, including by feeling it or using light.

Velvet, velour, fleece, and corduroy are all examples of materials with a nap that can be utilized to give sewing projects an exquisite sheen. Below, we’ll go over everything else you need to know about napping and stitching. Check it out!

Fabrics with Nap

Because of their production process, there are certain fabrics that always contain nap, according to the Sew Guide article “What is NAP?; Tips on sewing fabric with nap.”

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

Fabrics with nap have a soft texture and an attractive gloss, making them ideal for sewing. This fabric collection includes, but isn’t limited to (click on the name to see a project utilizing that fabric).

  • Velour
  • Velvet
  • Fleece
  • Corduroy
  • The use of fake fur
  • Denim with a brushed finish.
  • Flannel
  • Suede made of synthetic materials
  • Twill fabric that has been stretched to its maximum length
  • Cloth made of terry

How to Tell if a Fabric Has Nap

It’s crucial to be able to discern the difference between napped and napless textiles since nap should always face the same way in a sewing project. While certain fibers are clearly oriented in a particular direction, others are more difficult to distinguish.

It might be difficult to tell if a fabric has nap or not at times. There’s no need to worry! The two methods given in “What is NAP” will show you how to identify if a fabric has nap quickly and easily.

Never worry again about whether you’re cutting and arranging your fabrics correctly. If you use these fail-safe strategies, you’ll always arrive at the right destination.

Method 1: Touch

  1. Slowly and carefully, run your hand across the fabric in one way and then the other.
  2. Nap makes the fibers feel smooth in one direction (downwards, also known as “downwards”) and a little rough in the other (against nap, also known as “upward” direction) if the fabric has it.

Method 2: Light

  1. Go outside and expose your cloth to the sun.
  2. Slowly and gently stroke the fabric in one direction. The cloth appears to be lighter than it really is.
  3. Run your hand in the other direction across the fabric. Check to see if the fabric appears lighter, darker, or the same tone.
  4. If you run your palm across the fabric and see a shift in light, you know it has a nap. In this case, the “lighter” hue signifies that you ran your hand down in the same direction as the nap, commonly known as the down direction. Hands that have been moved in an upwards or counterclockwise fashion will appear “darker.”
  5. If you can run your palm across the fabric and see no difference in the amount of light that comes through, then the fabric does not have nap.

Pattern Envelopes and Nap

In most circumstances, a pattern envelope will indicate “with nap” or “without nap” fabric, and you’ll notice differing fabric needs based on the nap of the fabric. It’s common for fabric to be cut in many directions.

All pattern pieces must be put out in the same direction if your fabric has nap.

“With nap” cutting arrangement is used for cloth with a one-way design, so that the finished item will have a consistent design.

Check If Your Fabric Has Nap

Simply run your hand down the right side of the fabric to feel the nap for yourself. The hairs are flat and silky against the nap, although they have a subtle roughness to them.

If you’re wondering if a cloth has a nap, there are several ways to test it:

Brush the fabric with your hand once it has been laid out on a surface. Brush the fabric in the opposite direction from where you previously brushed it. If the cloth has a nap, it will appear differently depending on how you brush the fibers.

You can also take a long piece of cloth and fold it in half, so that the fabric goes down in one section and up in the other. As long as the cloth has a nap, it will appear to have distinct shades of the same hue.
What Does With Nap Mean In Sewing - Krostrade

What Is A Nap In Sewing Terms

“with nap” in sewing simply refers to arranging all of your fabric pieces in the same way. Cutting and arranging all of the pattern pieces should be done in the same direction as the weave of the napped fabric.

The fibers and texture of napped fabrics are aligned solely in one direction due to the weaving of their piles. The parts can be sliced in any direction, even if the pattern layouts imply that there is no nap.

Only the fabric’s grainline will remain to be taken into account.

What Does Nap Mean On A Sewing Pattern?

Prepare the nap by reading the pattern and calculating the fabric needs. If you don’t, you risk running out of fabric for pattern pieces if you don’t cut in the same direction as the rest of the cloth.

It is important to cut the pieces with nap away from you if the pattern requires it. Keep this in mind while you put the project together, as some will definitely change direction and alter the garment’s appearance when worn. ‘

How Do You Cut Fabric With A Nap?

  1. When you run your palm over the fabric, pay attention to which direction it feels smooth.
  2. Pattern pieces should be laid out in a way that they face each other in the same direction for napping
  3. Most patterns that call for cloth to be cut with a nap have a pattern layout diagram that you can follow along with the pattern instructions themselves.
  4. For a uniform appearance after sewing, use sharp scissors and the pattern layout diagram.
  5. Use a cutting mat and rotary cutter for more difficult parts.

Which Types Of Fabrics Have A Nap?

Napps-inducing textiles include synthetic suede, flannel and Terry cloth as well as corduroy and velour. As you can see, the nap orientation of some of these materials, such as imitation fur, is straightforward to discern because the strands move in only one direction.

Does all fabric have a nap?

A napped cloth is one that has a directed look or texture. As a result, rubbing the material in one direction or holding it in a particular manner can produce distinct results.

How to tell if the fabric is napped:

  1. In one direction, run your fingertips across the material.
  2. The direction of the nap can be determined by feeling the threads to see if they are flat or smooth.
  3. Going in the opposite direction of the nap gives the fibers greater texture; this is known as the upwards direction.
  4. Running your hand over the nape of your neck in a well-lit area can help you determine the nape’s orientation.
  5. If the color of the fabric became lighter, the nap was in the right direction.
  6. If the color of the fabric becomes darker, you should turn the nap away from you.
  7. It’s possible that your material doesn’t have a nap if these tests didn’t disclose any changes in texture or color.

How Do I Know If My Fabric Is Napping?

When you run your hand over a fabric that doesn’t have a nap, you’ll notice that the texture or color doesn’t change. Fabric napping is also frequent on textured materials like velvet, fleece, and flannel, and it is anticipated of the fabric.

Using the pattern’s layout as a guide will help you determine whether or not you have a napped fabric. Even so, it is important to be aware that a lack of attention to this detail might cause obvious color variations when a project is put together.

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

Sewing requires a good night’s sleep because it influences the quality of the finished product. You must cut and arrange your materials in the same way because the finished garment will have a different shade when sewn.

Prewashing your cloth is an additional method of fabric preparation that should not be overlooked. It will help you assess whether or not the colors will bleed if you prewash the material.

To learn more about this step in the sewing process, check out our guide on how to prewash fabric.

Working with nap and pile | Colette Blog


The article was helpful, right? Following the weave’s direction is known as “nap” in sewing, and we just learnt about it.

To provide a consistent appearance, the pattern pieces must be cut and assembled using nap. Run your hand over the fabric to feel the fibers or check for a change in shade to establish the nap orientation.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. If you’re interested in learning more about sewing, check out our blog.