A term that describes the surface texture of fabric when its pile lies in one particular direction; any fabric with a cut or loop pile and a brushed finish is likely to have a nap. The way the nap ‘lies’ affects how the light catches it, giving it either a deeper or lighter tone, which in turn determines how we perceive the colour of the fabric.
* With any woven or finished fabric, it is important to mark the top of each cut as you take it off the roll–even if you can’t see the nap on the flat this ensures that when you make the fabric up the nap will be consistent, the pile will face the same way. If you do not do so, it will be markedly obvious and appear as though two different fabrics have been used.
* Or there may be no nap, but when this way of working has become a habit, nap will never become a problem.
* Fabrics with a pile are inclined to ‘walk’ against themselves when sewn face to face, so all seams must be carefully pinned down and stitched, and all sofa and chair seats need a canvas or plain hardwearing cloth beneath them.
* It is usually best to make fabric up with the nap down. This not only gives a richer colour, but means the pile will catch the least amount of dust, and is lying the right way for being brushed.
* For upholstery, you want the nap to work with the body of the frame and not against it, which is the single reason why only short pile fabrics are most suitable for upholstery.
* For curtains, experiment first by draping the cloth near the window, paying attention to how it looks by day and night light, and which you prefer.
* You may choose to have the nap facing upwards–perhaps because you prefer the way in which the light shows up the colour. In this case, the only word of caution is that dust will very quickly catch in the pile, meaning the drapes will regularly need to be vacuumed or shaken out.
* Among fabrics renowned for their nap piles are velvet (which has a near vertical, but still distinct nap, though with Panne velvet the nap runs across the width), plush, and brushed cotton.
* Vacuum nap piled fabrics with a soft muslin mob style cap over the usual upholstery brush.