Grosgrain is a textile with a very tight weave and narrow ribbing, giving it a ridged texture. The material is most often used to make ribbons and trim. The tight weave makes it very sturdy, and slightly stiff, two features that can sometimes be advantageous with trims and ribbons. Many fabric and sewing supply stores sell grosgrain ribbon in a variety of colors, and intrepid crafters can also dye their own if they cannot find a match for their needs. This ribbon is available in whole spools or by the length.
In the form of ribbon, grosgrain almost feels like corded fabric, with stiff ribs that run across it. Typically, both edges of the ribbon are bordered with another rib, which keeps it crisp. At cut ends, grosgrain my be sewn over or treated with a dot of lacquer to prevent unraveling. The material is also used to make larger width textiles, such as those use in gowns and jackets. A garment sewn from it tends to be formal, with a stiff shape that takes advantage of the natural crispness of the material.
Many garments are trimmed with grosgrain, which can provide a crisp edge and a nice contrast. It is also used for ties or sashes on dresses, hats, and other garments, and it can be used to make large, stiff bows. In addition, grosgrain ribbon is used to suspend military medals and honors, as well as some civilian decorations. The ribbon comes in a number of widths, but tends to be used in a wide format with a bright, contrasting color.
Silk is the traditional material for grosgrain, but the material can also be made from nylon and synthetics. As a general rule, the ribbon looks slightly glossy, and it can be solid or striped. When it is striped, the stripes usually run against the grain of the ribbing, although they may also run parallel, depending on personal aesthetics. Other patterns in contrasting colors, such as dots and diamonds, are also not unusual.
When using grosgrain, sewers should take care that it is hemmed or sealed properly, to prevent fraying. This can be an issue especially with ribbons, particularly those that are used to hold brooches and decorations. A sharp tug in the wrong direction can unravel an amazing amount of material, which could be a great tragedy for the wearer. It will also show pin holes and marks, so should be handled with care.