A crosswise grainline is positioned horizontally on a sewing pattern. A horizontal placement means from one vertical seam to another vertical seam (usually garment side seams).
A crosswise grain follows the garment's weft threads. As opposed to a lengthwise grain, a crosswise grain does not always provide the most optimal drape and in many cases, the garment can be less durable (in the long run) when cut on the crosswise. Nevertheless, cutting sewing patterns on the crosswise grain is necessary in a few distinct instances:
- When working with wide garment pieces that should not feature any seams (such as flared or circle skirts), the crosswise grain allows for enough width to accommodate these extra wide patterns.
- When you don't have enough fabric to cut the pattern on the conventional lengthwise grain, a crosswise grain can be used if it will not jeopardize the garment design.
- When the fabric's print or motif works better for the garment design if the pieces are cut on the crosswise grain,
- When the fabric's lengthwise and crosswise grain vary in stretch and texture and one of these characteristics is desired over the other, you may choose to cut your patterns on the crosswise if this alignment provides the preferable stretch/texture for the garment at hand.
Pattern graininess are always positioned parallel to the fabric's selvage edge in the pattern cutting process. In this case, a crosswise alignment won't work if the pattern is longer than the standard fabric width. For that reason, a crosswise grainline is conventionally used with shorter, wider patterns.
It is also important to note that some fabrics can look different when cut on the crosswise grain even if at first glance, the fabric looks identical from all angles. This is often the case with twill fabrics, especially those that feature an added sheen. In this instance, the fabric surface will catch the light differently across each fabric grain. When working with these types of fabrics, it is good practice to cut all your patterns on the same grain, whether this is crosswise, lengthwise or bias.