Today for our Sewing 101 we are going to learn a bit about pattern layout and cutting. This always seems to be the most time consuming and stressful part of sewing. So today I hope to give you a few tips and tricks to make it less stressful.
When you start cutting your pattern there are a few tools you'll for sure want. First, a measuring tape is a must. (I like this one because you get 3 measuring tapes (affiliate) and I can never seem to find one when I need it.) Next a nice and sharp pair of scissors. Cheap scissors can really ruin your fabric and frustrate your pattern cutting. Personally I love my Ginger Scissors (affiliate). They are pricey but TOTALLY worth it.
Lay your fabric on a flat surface. If your pattern says to "Cut 2", you'll want to fold your fabric half with your selvages together. (If you are unfamiliar with the word selvage, check out our Fabric Anatomy post.) Notice the selvages are on the right side and the fold is on the left.
The pattern below is the Jean and Jamey Jammies Pant pattern.
Before you start pinning your pattern down, you want to ensure your pattern is on grain. Why does this matter? Well, have you ever had an article of clothing that always pulled to one side or the other. That is because the fabric wasn't cut on grain and once sewn it always pulls to try and get on grain again.
So the first thing to do is find the grainline on your pattern. This should be a line on the pattern and should be marked. The grainline should always be parallel with the selvage. Even if your grainline is crosswise or bias, it will need to be parallel to the selvage. To ensure this, grab your tape measure. Line your tape measure up at the top of the grainline across to the selvage. Take that measurement. So below it is about 6.75". Now pin the top of your grainline to the fabric.
Move your tape measure down to the bottom edge of the grainline. Measure from grainline to selvage. This should measure the same as the top edge. If it doesn't, move your pattern piece until it does. Then pin. That is how you ensure your pattern is on grain. Now you can finish pinning and start cutting out your fabric pieces.
If your pattern says "mirror" or "mirror image" this means the designer wants you to cut 2 pieces of the pattern that are exactly opposite of each other. Why? Well, don't you have a right leg and a left leg? Or a right side of your bodice and a left? This ensures that your pattern pieces are opposite from each other and you don't end up with 2 right leg pieces. (Been there, done that).
Easiest way to cut "mirror images" is to have your fabric folded in half like the example above or below and then pin your pattern.
Like with our Rival Raglan pattern. Most of the pieces are to be cut on the fold. Again, prepare your fabric. One side should be on the fold and the other matching selvages. If you wish to save on fabric, you can fold only a short side of your selvage in.
Now place your patterns on the fold. Pin the top of folded side and then pin the bottom folded side. Continue pinning and then cut it out.