Home » Sewing Techniques » What Is It? Nap

What Is It? Nap

WHAT IS IT?

Nap refers to the direction of napped fabrics, which are fabrics with a brushed or raised surface and hairs or fibers that lie smoothly in one direction. Fabrics that may have nap include velvet, corduroy, faux fur and velveteen. Fur is the most obvious napped fabric and demonstrates the concept of nap well. The hairs of fur fall directionally and feel smooth if stroked in one direction but not the other. Velvet and other napped fabrics work the same way on a smaller scale, but the fibers are not as tall, which makes it harder to see the nap in action. Fabric looks different going up and down with the nap; it may look darker or lighter depending on which way the nap is facing. Less obvious napped fabrics include wool and cashmere. You may not be able to see it, but there’s a very slight difference to the way the fabric feels when you run your hand up or down the length of the bolt.

Some fabrics don’t have a napped surface but are treated the same way, such as one-way designs or directional printed fabrics.

Nap of faux fur

Nap of faux fur

Nap of corduroy and wool coating

Nap of corduroy and wool coating

WHEN DO YOU USE IT?

If your fabric has a napped surface, you’ll want to follow a cutting layout for napped fabric. In the pattern instructions, the cutting layouts will specify with or without nap. Use the with nap layout for napped fabrics as well as one-way designs. These cutting layouts will have the top of all your pattern pieces facing the same way, which uses more fabric. All pieces need to face the same way or one panel might look lighter or darker than the rest. Layouts without nap will sometimes turn pieces upside down if needed for a better fit.

Directional prints that should be treated like napped fabrics

Directional prints that should be treated like napped fabrics

WHICH IS THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

For directional prints, it’s the direction where the people are not standing on their heads. With faux fur, the right direction is when the fur pile is facing down. Brush your hand down the fabric; if it feels soft, that is the direction of nap. It should feel rough or coarse when you brush your hand in the opposite direction.

Tips + Notes

  • If you cut the nap upside down, your garment may attract more lint and dust! This is yet another reason to ensure the nap is going in the right direction.
  • No pattern layout for napped fabrics? Simply arrange the pattern pieces on your fabric so that the top of each piece (the top of where it would fall on your body, so shoulders of blouses, waistlines on skirts) is at one end. Pattern pieces are usually labeled so the label is readable with the top of the piece facing up.
  • If you make a mistake cutting the first piece and have the nap facing up instead of down, switch all of the pieces to match this direction. It’s better to have the nap facing the wrong way than to have varying nap directions from piece to piece.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine