Mrs Bowden’s top tip – NAP
A commercial dressmaking pattern will sometimes mention WITH OR WITHOUT NAP in the layout diagrams. The layout diagram tells you how to place the paper pattern on the fabric in order to cut it out correctly and within the amount of fabric that has been recommended to buy for the garment.
Basically a fabric WITHOUT NAP is a fabric that looks the same whatever way round you turn it. A fabric WITH NAP will look different. Now, this is very obvious if you are using a fabric with a strong directional print. You would not want your flamingos upside down would you? However, sometimes the difference can be more subtle, take corduroy for instance.
This fabric is the same colour but the texture of the fabric changes as the fibres align in one direction. If you have ever worn velvet or corduroy you may have noticed it looks like it changes colour if you stroke the fabric. Strictly speaking ‘nap’ refers to the texture of the fabric but we can use the WITH OR WITHOUT nap advice to deal with directional prints too. If you aren’t sure whether the fabric has a nap, stroke it to see if it changes texture in different directions and look at it in different lights to see if it changes colour.
By the way, a crushed velvet is purposely constructed with fibres lying in lots of different directions so it is without a nap!