Now we are really getting somewhere! Hopefully, if you are following along, you have your fabric ready to go (washed and pressed) for dress pattern #3835. We’ve already covered basic tools plus deciphered the back of a sewing pattern and figured out how much fabric you need. Now we’re onto cutting out the pieces.
The above image is the cutting layout you’ll find at the beginning of the pattern instructions. If you are a beginner, feel free to peruse the “General Instructions” instructions before you layout out the pattern pieces. Over time you’ll become more familiar with pattern terms and symbols; most patterns work more or less the same.
Often times pattern pieces are cut out on folded fabric to give you 2 mirror images of the same piece; in this case, pattern pieces are marked “Cut 2.” Sometimes a pattern piece is placed on the fold; this will only give you a single piece. The fronts of skirts and dresses are often cut out as one piece so that there won’t be a seam running down the front. These pieces are marked “Cut 1 on fold.”
The edges of fabric are called selvedges or selvages. When called for, fold your fabric lengthwise, right sides together, so that the selvedges meet, making sure the fabric lays down smooth:
Your fabric should not pull in one direction or another; the warp, or threads that are parallel to the selvedges, should be perpendicular to the weft, or cross-grain threads. Hmmm…think of the woven threads, the warp and the weft, meeting at 90 degree angles. Ensuring that the threads meet at 90 degree angles is sometimes referred to as “squaring” or “truing up” fabric. Don’t rely on the cut edge to guide you as far as making sure your fabric since fabric is often not cut in a perfectly straight line. Below is an example of what your fabric should NOT look like:
If you cut out your pieces from fabric that is not folded properly, the threads in the pieces will be twisted and your garment may not hang correctly.
For the dress we’re making you’ll need pattern pieces #1 (front), #2 (pocket), #3 (back) and #5 (sleeve).
Cut out the pattern pieces with regular paper scissors. When starting a new pattern, I don’t cut out the paper pieces on the cutting line but instead right outside of them. This makes cutting out the pieces much faster since you don’t need to be precise. (In the photo below you can see that the pieces ARE cut on the cutting line – that’s because I’ve used this pattern before.)
Anyway, lay down your pieces according to the cutting layout in the pattern instructions; for this dress you can use the cutting layout for View A as a guide. (Depending on your size, you may need to cut out the sleeves last and on a single layer or fabric, after you’ve already cut out the other pieces; see layouts.) Also, and this is important: The sleeves are short and therefore you’ll cut the sleeve hem at the line for View C.
Ok, so cut out your pieces from the fabric along the cutting line for your size; for this dress I wanted to decrease the amount of ease a little so I cut out the next size down. I tend to not like clothes fitting too loosely because I’m petite and loose-fitting close usually swallow me up or make me look dumpy.
Cut notches (those triangles along the cutting lines) out, away from the pattern piece. These notches are used as guides later on when sewing the pieces together, helping you to make sure seams match up correctly.
Once you cut all of your pieces out, look for dots on the pattern pieces; you’ll need to mark these before you unpin the pieces. This is how I do it: On a flat surface stick a pin through the middle of the dot, the one marked with your size:
Carefully lift of the paper pattern and mark the pinned spot with a fabric marking pen*, pencil or chalk; you might need to remove a couple of pins so you can get underneath. Do this for all markings.
Flip the pinned pieces over and mark on the other side.
Edited 7.26.09: Based on a friend’s comment and my realization that not everyone can eyeball a stitch line, I’m adding in another (and probably easier) way to mark darts. This method uses a tracing wheel and wax-free tracing paper…
To mark your darts (or pockets too), place a large enough piece of tracing paper (the kind from the fabric store that won’t leave a permanent mark; you might want to test the removal of the mark on a scrap piece of the fabric first) underneath the pattern piece, colored side down. Also place a piece of this tracing paper, colored side up, underneath the both pieces fabric so you’ll mark both sides at once.
Then get out your tracing wheel:
And mark the dashed lines by rolling the wheel along the line, pressing hard enough so you’ll mark both pieces of fabric. I like to mark the circles (at the ends) with an “X.” When you remove the paper pattern piece, your fabric will look like this:
When it’s time to sew the darts, you’ll stitch directly on this line.
At this point I like to keep the pieces pinned together until I’m ready to sew. This way I won’t forget which piece is what and if the markings rub off or disappear* then I can remark them in the correct spots. The remaining piece of fabric will be used for the hem ruffles – we’ll cut those out later.
Yay! that was fun. In our next lesson we start…sewing!
Happy 4th, dears! This weekend my fiance’s sister is in town so there’ll be lots of going out to eat and sippin’ on ice cold drinks; it should be a hot one!
*Sometimes those pesky fabric marking pens make marks that disappear before you’d like them to or they won’t go away, even after blotting with water. I would advise testing out the pen on a scrap piece of the fabric you’ll be using first to see how easy, or hard, it is to remove.