May 24, 2011

Cutting Tips for Beginners

Aren't you so excited? Once all the fitting and adjustments and alterations are behind you, now you can whip out your shears, cut your cloth and stitch up your sewing pattern! It's a big day! Yay!

I thought I would do a small post on cutting tips for beginners if indeed you are a beginner. Be aware that these are just my tips and there are other methods out there too - so if you find cutting methods that work better for you - Go for it! Let's get started, shall we? You will be needing dressmaking shears or a rotary cutter and mat - whichever works best for you - and pins or marking chalk.

Tip #1 - Make sure your fabric is freshly pressed. This is a must and it really helps you to cut your cloth much more accurately.

Tip #2 - Cut your cloth on a hard surface like your dining room table. Cutting your fabric on a soft surface or on the carpet can result in inaccurate cutting and then you'll find that certain pieces won't line up together or one piece might be longer than another, etc. Hard surface is the way to go.

Tip #3 - Follow the cutting layout given in the pattern instructions. Especially for specialty cuts like cutting napped fabric or stripes!

Tip #4 - Press your pattern pieces with a dry iron and then position them on the fabric. Again, this really aids in accuracy. Tape involved from adjustments? Just iron carefully around the tape or use a press cloth on top of the pattern pieces.

Tip #5 - Check your grainline. Check your grainline again. And again. How, you might ask? Have your tape measure handy, like draped around your neck, and measure from the grainline to the selvage edge of the fabric at the top of the grainline near one arrowhead and then again at the other end with the other arrowhead. Both measurements should be exactly the same. Then if you need, pin the grainline in place before pinning anywhere else.

Tip #6 - Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric or use pattern weights (like canned food bottles) and outline the pattern pieces with chalk. I'm a pinner. It's the way I learned and for me, I'm much more accurate with pinning that outlining the pattern pieces in chalk. But that's just me. When pinning, pin at the corners of the pattern first and then pin a pin or two in between the corners. Try both methods and see what works best for you.

Tip #7 - Cut your fabric with your shears at a perfect 90 degree angle to your hard surface area. In other words, keep your shears straight up and down. Also, cut the full length of the shear almost to the end (but not quite) before moving the shears up again to cut more. Take as long a cut with your shears as possible. Cut with one hand and hold the pattern and fabric down next to the shears with the other, like in the photo above. Do this with a rotary cutter and mat too.

Tip #8- Snip your notches. When I first learned how to sew, my teacher made me keep those silly notches (those triangular looking things) on the pattern pieces and then cut them out too. Carefully snipping your notches is much more accurate and a ton easier than trying to cut them out of the fabric. Just snip to the point of the notch and there you go.

Tip #9 - Mark any pattern markings before removing the tissue from the freshly cut fabric. I use chalk, pins or tailor's tacks to accomplish this.

Tip #10 - Have fun! Cutting into the final fabric is one of my favorite parts of sewing. I'm a serious fabric lover so I like doing stuff like pinning and watching my shears slice through the cloth. The sound even gets to me. Seriously, enjoy yourself. Turn on some music and having a cutting party.

Don't forget to cut your interfacing. I always forget to do that, but you don't have to now because I told you! Enjoy sewalongers!


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