Day 18: Cutting out your pattern and fabric

Today is Day 18 of 31 Days of Sewing School.

Once your fabric is prepped, it’s time to cut out your pattern and your fabric. Today we’ll talk about a few tips for getting your project cut out.

Cutting out a pattern: the basics

  • Most patterns include a variety of sizes; for that reason, you’ll want to be careful that you don’t cut off and lose the larger sizes in case you need them later. My suggestion is to cut out your pieces on the biggest size and fold it in on the line for the size you need, or to cut off but mark and keep the sizes you’re not using.
  • If your pattern has just one size or you are using the largest size, you don’t have to cut it out precisely. Just cut around the pieces and then when you pin them down on your fabric, you can cut right on the line, saving you time.
  • You’ll be pinning your cut pattern pieces onto your fabric using the fabric layout guide in your pattern guide. You might be able to juggle their placement a little to save fabric, but don’t change the direction of them as they need to go a certain direction depending on the project. Watch out for pieces that need to be placed on a fold, and for pieces that require you to “cut two” and/or to “cut one of interfacing” (a lining that will stiffen your fabric).
  • Many modern patterns give you precise measurements so you can measure and cut your fabric without a pattern. If you are using their pattern (printed out or out of a book) you may want to trace the pieces onto tracing paper or tissue paper before using them to make it a little easier to use, and so you can save the master pattern to use again. This is optional though.
  • If your modern pattern prints out in several pieces, just piece and tape it together before using it.
  • When cutting out your fabric, be sure to lay your fabric on a flat surface. A cutting board is handy, but a countertop or table will work too (just be careful not to cut anything other than your fabric!).
  • If you have pieces that look similar, leave the pattern piece pinned to the fabric until you need it or mark the pieces with a small note pinned on.
  • If there are markings on the pieces, be sure to transfer them to your fabric with chalk or fabric marking pens. If there are notches (little triangles sticking out on the edge of a piece), be sure to cut around those, as they will help you line pieces up later.

Happy pattern and fabric cutting! Tomorrow we’ll look at a key tool for your project, straight pins.

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Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

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  1. Nice to be here and see your post!

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