What is nap in sewing

What Is Nap In Sewing?

As a sewing enthusiast, you might be trying a lot of different things and learning from them every day. At some point, it becomes challenging and at other times it gets easy to do. Have you ever noticed that some dresses are unique features? Well, because, there are different kinds of fabrics like cotton, silk, linen, etc. and each one has its own textures.

When you sew your fabric you came across such things and wonder about them. It has a soft, and smooth feel to the touch, right? this is called Nap. Don’t get sleepy! It is perhaps the most important part of dress sewing where you’ve to be careful the most. The final luxurious look and elegant feel of your garments depend on it.

Key Takeaways

What is Nap?

What is nap
What is nap

Nap is the texture of a fabric that comes from the direction in which its fibers are brushed or raised. When the fibers are brushed in one direction, the fabric gets a soft, fuzzy feel on the surface. This type of texture is called a nap.

Velvet, suede, flannel, etc. are primary fabrics that have a nap. If you run your hand over a piece of fabric in both directions, you’ll notice that the other direction will feel each side textured and rough. Nap is the smoother one, and the direction against the nap is the rougher one.

When sewing, the nap of the fabric is important. The direction in which the fibers are brushed has an impact on the final product. If the pattern pieces are not in the same direction the whole product would be uneven to feel of wearing it.

Types of Nap in Fabric

There are three different types of nap in sewing which will help you to figure out the direction while cutting and sewing.

  1. Pile
  2. Plush (cut-pile)
  3. Velvet


A pile direction can be determined by examining the texture of the fabric’s top side. If it feels rough, all fibers in this fabric would in the same direction.


Plush Nap

Plush nap is also known as cut pile. When looking at plush nap material closely, if small loops are sticking out of the main direction of the nap, these are called plush piles.

Plush nap
Plush nap

Velvet Nap

They stick out from one another if they do not have a coating over the velvet material of the fabric. Keep them in opposite directions; when sewing velvet nap makes sure you use a smaller stitch size and don’t cut extra seam allowance like regular fabric. Using water-soluble thread is recommended to avoid damaging the fabric when sewing.

Velvet nap
Velvet nap

Nap in Sewing: Does it Really Matter?

Nap in Sewing
Nap in Sewing

During fabric sewing, a nap is an important factor to consider since it affects how a finished product looks and feels. If fibers are brushed or raised it can change the fabric’s texture and color. To ensure that the nap runs consistently throughout the garment, you must pay attention to the direction in which the fibers lie when sewing fabrics with a nap.

A finished garment may appear uneven in color or texture if the nap is not followed properly. Think about a dress that has a soft surface and a nice feel on the front side and the back side is opposite of it, the whole thing would be odd, right? The raised fibers in fabrics like velvet or corduroy create an obvious texture that must be followed while sewing.

Sewing with a nap also requires careful pattern placement to ensure that the nap runs in the desired direction. When laying out pattern pieces on the fabric, it’s a must to follow the direction of the nap and make sure that all pieces are cut in the same direction. This will help to ensure that the nap runs consistently throughout the garment and that the finished product has a uniform appearance. It requires careful attention to detail in both pattern placement and sewing techniques, but the result is a garment that is both visually appealing and comfortable to wear.

Use Nap in Sewing: Step by Step

Remember to pay close attention to the direction of the nap throughout the sewing process, from cutting to stitching to pressing. With a little extra care and attention, you can create beautiful garments that are both comfortable and visually appealing. Here are a few tips on how to use nap in sewing:

Use nap in sewing
Use nap in sewing

Step 1. Identify Nap Direction

Determine which direction the nap is by running your hand over the fabric. The side which feels soft has the nap.

Step 2. Cut Out the Fabric

Once you know the direction of the nap in your fabric, it’s time to cut out for pattern making. When you’re cutting out fabric that has a nap, there’s one important thing you should remember: make sure all the pattern pieces are facing the same direction (upward to downward) and use rotary scissors for a better cutting experience. For further information and assistance check the layout diagram of your nap fabric. 

Step 3. Organize Your Pattern Pieces

To ensure that the nap runs consistently throughout the garment, place the pattern pieces in the same direction as the nap. To ensure that the pattern pieces don’t shift while cutting, use pins to secure them to the fabric.

Step 4. Mark the direction of the nap

Use any pen or colored chalk to mark down the direction of the nap on your patterned pieces.

Step 5. Sew Following the Nap

Keep the nap direction in mind when sewing fabrics together. For example, you might need to adjust how you press seams or switch stitch types to avoid flattening the nap. So, be careful during the process.

Additional Tips for Nap Fabric Sewing

Additional tips for nap fabric sewing
Additional tips for nap fabric sewing

For working with nap fabric, there are some additional tips to help you in the project. Take your time and sew slowly to ensure accuracy and precision.

  • Make sure your machine is threaded correctly so the bobbin thread is pulled up correctly.
  • In order to avoid stitching problems with napped fabrics, make sure you are using a sharp needle and needle size appropriate to the thread weight. Using a wedge-shaped or ballpoint needle can also help avoid needle snagging. This prevents needles from snagging naps and skips from occurring as well as puckering and seam ripping.
  • Sewing napped fabrics requires a stitch length of 1.8mm – 2mm, which you should gradually adjust based on how much the fabric puckers, and a width of 3mm – 4mm.
  • When sewing napped fabrics, you will need to slow down the machine if the pile is large or unevenly distributed. Do not get discouraged if you don’t succeed at first, but get used to it. A raised nap can make the fabric easily “get away” from you, which may lead to sewing mistakes.

The Difference Between Nap and No Nap Fabric

The difference between nap and no nap fabric
The difference between nap and no nap fabric

There’s no huge difference between a napped fabric and no nap fabric. The difference is simple but the impact is beyond words when sewing a dress. The distinction between nap and no nap is the texture and appearance on the surface of a fabric. Nap fabrics have, soft, and fuzzy textures that often appear if you look closely; it feels to the touch as you feel grains on a wood. On the other hand, fabrics without nap have a smoother surface texture.

When sewing fabrics with a nap, knowing the fiber direction is a must. But how would you identify the direction of the fiber? well, fibers will reflect the light differently based on how they are brushed. If the fiber direction is inappropriate it can create a rough appearance on the dress you’d be making.

Fabrics without naps are generally easier to work with. You need to pay little attention to detail when sewing your fabric, in final garments, there are no major visible errors. Fabrics with naps are often used for both personal and commercial clothing items. For example, coats, jackets, pillows, blankets, etc. Fabrics without naps are commonly used for items like shirts, dresses, and curtains.


Does cotton have a nap?

Cotton fabrics are made with a raised nap during manufacture. The nap is trimmed in this fabric before finalizing the product.

How is a napped fabric made?

Napped fabric is made through a process called raising or brushing. The surface of a flat woven or knit textile is processed with brushes to create a soft, smooth, and fuzzy texture.

Which types of fabrics have a nap?

There is various type of nap fabrics out there, some of them are flannel, serge, camel’s hair, sweatshirt fleece, brushed denim, mohair, suedes, etc.

Final Thought

When working with certain fabrics in sewing nap is as important as other relevant terms.  So, working with nap fabrics requires attention to detail on pattern placement while sewing. No matter what type of dress or clothing you are making, understanding nap in sewing can help you achieve the desired professional touch on your final garments. Once your fundamentals about a nap in fabric and sewing get on the point you are good to go for it your project. Make sure you don’t skip any steps and essential information.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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