RTW Tailoring Sewalong #4 – Cutting the Main Fabric!

Before we start cutting, I want you to check your pattern once more – we don’t want any mistakes!

Grab the back panel, lay the back neck facing and back lining over it so they align, and check there are no obvious mistakes:

Do the same thing for the side panels and side linings:

And again for the front, front facing and front lining, as well as the sleeve and sleeve linings:

While you are at it, walk all those seams again to check they match.  By now you probably know your pattern inside out and can mentally assemble it – that’s a good thing!

Something else I should mention if you are bagging out your hem – your lining hem stitching line must match your shell hem stitching line.  They should be the same length as they will sew together.  I think I only mentioned this for the sleeve hem in my last post, but it should be the same for all hems:

It is not a problem if your panels are straight, more so if they are tapered or A-line.  Sorry if this affects you, as it means adding little bits to the side seams of your lining hems, as I have done to my one-piece sleeve above – don’t cheat and chop it off the shell hem!

OK let’s get cracking!

Sort your pattern into main fabric, lining, and fusing pieces.  Today we will need all the main fabric pieces, both unfused and blockfused ones:

Back, Side Back, Side Front, Front…

…Front Facing, Back Neck Facing, Top Collar, Under Collar, Sleeve

Lay up your fabric:

Fold the full length of your fabric right sides together, making sure the selvedges match and that the ends are square/on grain.  If you can’t fit the full length of your fabric on to your kitchen table cutting space, then drape the end over a chair so it is supported and the flat fabric on the tabletop is not distorting.  I have been known to use the floor!

Lay out your pattern:

Even if my fabric does not have any obvious nap, I play it safe and lay my pattern pieces in one direction to avoid any fabric shading.  I only cut both ways if there is a considerable fabric saving, and usually there isn’t, so I cut one way as a general rule:

This includes the top collar, which should be cut with the fall laying in the same direction as the back panels.

Measure from the selvedge to grainline at either each end of the pattern piece to ensure it is on grain, for greatest accuracy your grainline should extend the full length of the pattern:

9.5cm at the hem…

…and 9.5cm at the underarm

Mark around your pattern:

I use tailors chalk to mark around my pattern which is firm paper (120gms), this though is impossible with tissue!  Use pattern weights and chalk around all pieces accurately except those that will be blockfused.  Make sure that all notches are chalked, and dart/pocket markings are chalked through the small hole on your pattern.

Chalk around the blockfuse pieces with a 1cm+ margin – this only needs to be approximate as it will be cut accurately to the pattern once the panel is fused.  If you have grouped your blockfuse pieces together, you can mark around the whole group and just cut the whole block of fabric as one (hence the term, block fusing), although you might want to take a quick photo of your layout for later!

Cut out your pieces:

Cut accurately around all the pieces that will not be blockfused.  Because the edge of the pattern is the exact cutting line, and the chalk mark is directly outside that line, you need to cut the chalk line away:

Clip all notches through both thicknesses using the tip of your shears, they should be no longer than 5mm.  For this reason I don’t advise using a rotary cutter for this!

Turn the panels over and mark any dart/pocket markings with a chalk dot on the wrong side of the opposite panel.  
As I cut each panel I mark the wrong side with a chalk cross in the hem turning of each piece, a must if your fabric is similar on both sides:

For the pieces that are to be blockfused, cut around the blocks.  Mark the wrong side with a chalk cross at the lower end, to help identify not only right and wrong sides, but the top from the bottom!

Cut out all your main fabric pieces, sorting them into a pile of non-blockfused and soon-to-be-blockfused as you go:

That’s it for today!
Tomorrow – the fusing pieces.

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

12 thoughts on “RTW Tailoring Sewalong #4 – Cutting the Main Fabric!

  1. Hurray! I've been itching to cut into my fabric, even though I might have to wait until the weekend and do the week's worth of sewing then. That's a great tip about the cross in the hem. I'd never thought of it but I'll definitely do that instead of trying to keep all my pattern pieces 'face up' before I use them.

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  2. Sherry, what great info. thanks so much for all your photos. I have to confess I haven't started my jacket yet – partly out of indecision and because the weather has turned springlike here and so I am not thinking about wearing a jacket!. But I will get going next week 🙂

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  3. This is very clear – you're doing a great job. I'm of course still working on my muslin but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to cut into fabric by the weekend. Very excited! oh, one thing: I still don't have the material for sleeveheads. You say “wadding”–I'm assuming that's like felt? I have some quilt batting–is that suitable?

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  4. ~Amy – my sleeve head wadding is foam on the inner, and felt-like on the outer, and is about 3mm thick. If you can find something similar that is soft and flexible I am sure it will work. You could try it out now in your muslin to test it! I have read of some sewers using lambswool, but I'm unfamiliar with it.

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  5. Someone recommended the foam in unused 90's shoulder pads may work for sleeve head wadding. I got some for my jacket and once cut, they seem like the perfect shape. I will add the photo to the flickr site.

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  6. In reference to the sleeve head wadding, I was checking out the hat making supplies on Dawn Anderson's site and found these, http://www.dawnandersondesigns.com/servlet/Categories?category=Tailoring+Supplies. They've already come in and look pretty good.

    Also, I remember a workshop with Peggy Sagers where she used tie interfacing to ease in a sleeve and the tie interfacing also acted as the sleeve head. Here are two links to this procedure: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/review/readreview.pl?ID=203 and http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/review/readreview.pl?ID=734.

    I hope that helps.

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  7. You say: “Something else I should mention if you are bagging out your hem – your lining hem stitching line must match your shell hem stitching line. They should be the same length as they will sew together.”

    Do you mean that the lining hem cutting line should be the same as the shell's hem fold line?

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