What is Grosgrain?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

Grosgrain is a fabric traditionally made of silk, which comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.
Grosgrain is a fabric traditionally made of silk, which comes from the cocoon of the silkworm.

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I had some metallic grosgrain lying around the house so used it to line the button bands of the last sweater I knit. I really like the way it turned out! The ribbon contrasts really nicely with the texture of the knitted fabric.


I am a long-time crafter. When it comes to grosgrain, I almost always use Offray grosgrain ribbon. The brand offers nice quality. They offer a fantastic variety of colors and patterns. Anyone interested in using grosgrain ribbon in their project ought to check it out.


I have been experimenting with making doll clothes. I am a beginner when it comes to sewing. I was browsing through fabric and patterns at a store near by when I found a pretty good selection of printed grosgrain ribbon.

Inspired, I took a look on line to see what other printed grosgrain I could find. There is a huge selection of patterns in a range of prices. I am starting to make outfits to correspond with holidays. I have found a lot of winter holiday prints, along with some cute Halloween prints. Right now I am looking for some Americana type to go with a July fourth pattern.

I have not used grosgrain before, but I am excited to see how it turns out.


As a teenager, I worked for two major arts and crafts retailers. I have dabbled in a wide range of artistic hobbies. A particular hobby that I have continued with is making cards. I love creating a one of a kind greeting card for any special occasion.

I don’t like to spend a huge amount of money on my projects. It really is not economical these days. I have found great colors and patterns in discount grosgrain ribbon. Any time I can get my craft supplies on sale, I stock up.

Grosgrain makes a great accessory on handmaid cards. I like to use ribbon to make the front of a card look like a wrapped present. Grosgrain also adds a pretty trim. The variety of colors makes it suitable for any type of card you want to make.

Post your comments
Forgot password?