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How To Prepare Your Pattern And Fabric For Cutting
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You’ve bought your pattern, and picked out your fabric. All your sewing notions are perfect. You may think you’re ready to sew. Hold on to your buttons. Put those scissors down! Before you take a snip prepare your fabric and sewing pattern. Your Sewing project could be ruined if you don’t pay attention to these details. You want to pre-shrink your fabric (unless its dry clean only, then skip this step). Run the fabric through your washing machine without detergent, on the settings you intend to use when washing in the future. There were probably care instructions on the bolt you got the fabric from at the store, if so use them.

Determine your fabric grain. If your fabric is woven it a straight grain and a warp. The warp intersects the straight grain. You can identify the grain by pulling your fabric from the sides. The straight grain (also referred to as the grain line) stretches less than the warp. Parallel to the straight grain there is a finished edge called the selvage. It is there to prevent the fabric from fraying before use. Cut the Selvage off close the edge. If included when cutting it can interfere with the fall and fit of your finished project.

Identify which face of your fabric you prefer. There is no set rule on making this decision. The side that you want on the outside of your project is the right side. The side of the fabric that you want on the inside of the garment is the wrong side. Remember to cut your fabric on the same side every time or you may end up having to recut and wasting fabric.

Now you need to determine the direction of the fabric. Does your fabric have a print, nap or a pile? This could be on velvet or corduroy for example. For a nap or a pile run your hand along the fabric in one direction. Which way is smooth and shiny? Which side is dull? Which way is your print running? It is important to recognize this. You want to lay all your Sewing Pattern pieces in the same direction.

You have gotten to know your fabric you can now lay it out on a large flat surface. Make sure there are no tiny folds, wrinkles, bumps, or any other discrepancies when you’ve laid out the Fabric. If there are than smooth them out. If there is anything off about your fabric it is easy to accidentally add or remove fabric. This will throw off the fit and fall of your finished project.

Don’t let your fabric hang over the edge of your cutting table. If you do then it can skew and distort the fabric. If you don’t maintain accuracy while lying out your fabric it can be impossible to detect after cutting. Then you do a fitting and your garment is crooked. You may not be able to fix it. When you’ve laid out your fabric put weights on the edges to hold it in position.

Before you cut out your fabric you need to determine your pattern size. Compare your measurements the size chart on the back of your Pattern. Pick the size that coincides with your largest measurement. You can make alterations further on in the Sewing process. Remember it is easier to take a garment in that to let it out. Your pattern instructions will tell you which Pattern pieces you need. Find these pieces on your tissue paper. (I like to iron my pattern pieces on a low setting to smooth them) Make a note of which way the grain line arrows on the Pattern pieces point they need to follow the straight grain. Some of the pieces may tell you to cut on the fold. Lay these pieces out first. Make sure the edges are as close to the fold as possible. Remember accuracy is key.

Now you need to pin your Pattern to your fabric. You will want to pin inside the seam allowance because you don’t want your pin marks to show when you’re done Sewing. Don’t pin outside the cut line because when cutting you don’t want your scissors running into your pins. That can damage the blades. Also note that you will have more security if you pin diagonally at the corners.

You have laid out the fabric. You checked and double checked for accuracy. You made sure that your fabric and pattern were smooth and flawless. Your pattern pieces are smoothed, and laid out. You pinned them to your fabric. Now you can pick the scissors up and resume cutting. Pay attention to detail and your Sewing will fly by with ease. Have fun!


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