Welcome to part dos of the pattern cutting portion of Sewing 101. Today, we will go over laying out your pattern pieces onto the fabric, marking your fabric, and the various hyrogliphics you'll see on your pattern pieces.
Let me begin this very long post with a wee disclaimer - this is just how I go about cutting and marking patterns. While there are other techniques, I find this to be the easiest for me. I think it's a thorough but not time-sucking way to make sure all marks are... well, marked. But just know that cutting and marking the fabric is the most tedious part of sewing. It's also one of the most important.
My inner-16-year-old totally just rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, whatever loser" and then made the "L" sign on her forehead. She's a jerk.
Anyway, to refresh your memory, below is the cutting layout for my pattern.
My fabric is 45", so I will be using this cutting layout. You see that the fold and selvages (the finished edges of the fabric) are specified. You can also kinda see that some of the pattern pieces are darker than others -- see piece 3, for example. These are a slightly darker shade because they are supposed to be laid on the fabric with the wrong side facing up. Like this:
I folded pattern piece 3 so that I could reuse it for the nightgown (I wend into that a little bit more in Cutting Patterns Part One). Also, you may be wondering where pieces 1 and 10 are. Well, the layout shows you to cut them out one at a time on a single layer of fabric. This takes longer, so I will cut pieces 2 & 3 first, then fold the remaining fabric so that I only need to cut the pieces once instead of twice. No time-suck. Word!
Here is what my layout for the bottoms look like:
It looks just like the drawing. Nothing too interesting, just wanted to show you what it looks like.
For years and years, I used to cut my triangles like this:
I always felt like it was time consuming, and not really all that accurate. Then one day I read a tip about notching into the triangles like this:
So. Much. Better!! Less margin for error, it's faster, and it's easier!! Word 2.0!
I always use regular straight pins for dots. I push them in the center of the dot like this...
This way, when I go to sew the darts I match up the notches and dots and pin them into place.
Kinda curved darts:
I use my awesome tracing paper and trace the kinda curved darts as pictured below
I know it's hard to see, but click on the pic to enlarge and you should be able to see both darts & techniques.
Now, there are two ways to mark buttons. The first is to use the button guide provided in the pattern & some tracing paper:
I had to trace the buttonholes with a marking pencil so they would show up in the picture, but you wouldn't necessarily have to do that.
The second way is to eyeball/measure it. I like to use small buttons (3/8" - 1/2") on blouses especially, and a lot of times they are smaller than the pattern calls for. The smaller the button, the closer they need to be to one another. I place buttons on the garment in a layout I find aesthetically pleasing, then I double check their spacing with a measuring tape and/or hem gauge. No matter what, the most important thing is that your buttons are evenly spaced both between each other and from the edge of the fabric. You don't want a meandering path of buttons snaking its way down your torso, amiright?
Sew... I think that's pretty much all of the major markings you'll come across with the exception of zippers. Those are basically like dots, which is why I did not go over them again, but if someone would like to see that then no problemo!!
Some Miscellaneous things I forgot to put above:
- Iron your pattern pieces and fabric before you cut your pattern. Use the cotton setting with NO STEAM for the pattern pieces, and whatever setting is appropriate for your fabric.
- There is an ongoing debate (maybe only in my head) about the merits of pre-washing and thereby pre-shrinking fabric. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. It has more to do with my laziness level than anything else, though sometimes I actually think through the pros and cons of prewashing. If it's cotton or a cotton blend, and especially if it's for pants or skirts, I usually prewash since I always make more fitted pants and skirts. (I did not prewash the purple flannel in the pictures above. There will be shrinkage, but I can just blame it on the pool. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about.)
- That being said, NEVER pre-wash denim. The crispness of new denim makes it far easier to work with and cut, keeps stitching straight, and whitens teeth.
Coming up next is how to use freezer paper to save & reuse pattern pieces. Also, we will begin sewing the little jammies we just cut out. I am pretty sure Joann's will have Simplicity patterns on sale soon, so if you'd like to sew along be my guest! I always suggest sewing something with a drawstring or elastic waistband before diving into the realm of buttons and zippers. Those are both easy peasy to conquer, but you gotta walk before you can run. Word? Word!!