The Crossgrain

The Crossgrain
June 08, 2020

The Crossgrain

When I was in the fourth grade, I asked for a sewing machine.  I was fascinated by the act of creating something out of nothing, and used it for years to hem pants, sew doll clothes, and take in costumes. I even tried my hand at a couple of quick skirts and bags.  It wasn’t until I moved to New York City in my early 20s that my real passion for sewing began.  I decided I wanted to make a dress, a real dress, that actually fit.  It took me three days, but I did it.  It was a beautiful shade of robin's egg blue linen with a fitted bodice and a pleated skirt.  I wore it to work on Monday, and had never felt better in an article of clothing.


From that moment on, I spent my weekends traipsing through the bolts of fabric in the garment district, then running home to turn them into something I could wear.  I connected with other people who loved to sew, and made friends who sat at home on the weekends sewing, or worked all week sewing professionally.  I learned their tips and tricks, and built a wardrobe.   Although I no longer live in New York, each time I visit, I still bring an extra suitcase of fabric home with me. 

 I’ve often said that I love sewing, and that’s true.  However, my true love affair is with fabric.  The way it drapes when you pull it from the bolt. The way the light catches it and it shines.  The way it catches a breeze and floats around your ankles in the summer.  The fibers within the fabric working together to just make you feel good. 

For those of us that sew, the grainline gets a lot of attention.  It runs straight up and down and will ensure your garment is stable and won’t distort out over time. But, no one ever really talks about the crossgrain: the other direction of woven fibers.  In most garments, it runs across the body.  It has just a little bit of stretch, and that little bit of stretch is what makes cloth conform to the body.  The crossgrain wraps around the body, and makes your clothes comfortable.  Without it, we’d all be constricted in stiff clothes that don’t give when we bend, sit, or stretch.  You can pretty easily remove one of the fibers on the grain without damaging your fabric, but accidentally pull a crossgrain fiber, and you have a pull or a hole in the cloth.  The crossgrain fibers are interwoven: lose just one, and the whole thing begins to unravel.


The Crossgrain when seen through this context seems infinitely more important, and that’s what makes it so special to me. 


Thank you for allowing me, in some small way, to be connected to and interwoven in your lives.  I strive to find the highest quality natural fibers available in hopes that you, too, will experience the joy of amazing fabric.


Ashley

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