Grosgrain is a stiff, heavy ribbon made from cotton, polyester, blends of the two, and even silk. In manufacturer’s speak, grosgrain uses a taffeta weave and heavy weft to make a distinct matte finish. This weaving technique gives grosgrain the same finish on both sides and makes it quite strong!
Before we go any further, one note about the pronunciation of “grosgrain”: the “s” is silent, meaning you should pronounce it “grow-grain” rather than “gross-grain.” This is because it is a French term: gros means coarse, while grain means texture.
How Is Grosgrain Ribbon Made?
Grosgrain gets its distinct matted appearance through the basic weaving technique used to make it, known as the taffeta weave. A thick cord, known as the weft, goes across the ribbon, while a thin cord known as the warp goes along the ribbon. The warp goes over and under the weft cords in sequence, giving both sides of the ribbon a uniform, non-lustrous texture.
Grosgrain has woven edges that help strengthen the material and prevent it from fraying and unravelling. Because of its durability, different manufacturers use the weave to make everything from seat belts and watchbands. As for ribbons, the uniformity and strength of the ribbon make grosgrain a very versatile crafting material! You can use it for scrapbooking, printing, painting, monogramming, and so much more.
The Difference Between Grosgrain And Satin
The other main type of crafting ribbon is satin, and crafters often think of it as always made of silk. However, manufacturers can use silk to make grosgrain, too – it’s the weaving technique that sets the two apart, and satin gets its glossy appearance from a special weave of its own. Manufacturers make satin ribbon by passing the warp over several wefts before putting it under a single weft cord. By grouping several warp cords next to each other, the final product reflects light and gives satin its shininess.
This technique means that most satin ribbon is “single-faced,” with one shiny side and one matte side (though double-faced is more widely available now!). The weaving technique leaves satin not as sturdy as grosgrain, and when using it for larger bows, satin may need grosgrain or another layer for reinforcement.
Where Can I Use Grosgrain?
Grosgrain ribbon is the preferred ribbon for heavy-duty crafting, clothing, and hair accessories. The thicker weave makes it ideal for enhancing the durability of any project, as it’s a very versatile ribbon. It also has an elastic quality and can go through the wash without fraying apart.
For crafting, grosgrain is popular for making hair bows, bookbinding, ribbon jewelry, and much more. When it’s made from polyester, grosgrain is ideal for wrapping presents too, as it is lighter and more flexible than other fibres. Use grosgrain for anything that goes in your washing machine or that will be exposed to the elements: clothing, hatbands, and bracelets and necklaces for kid’s crafting. The material will stand up when your children put it in their mouths!