Friday, June 24, 2011

Sew along, days 6-7: cutting out your fabric

Now that you have a perfectly tailored pattern, it's time to move on to your actual dress! The pace will pick up after this post, so make sure you're up to date! We'll still move slowly, but there will be something to do each day. So far this has been all prep work, which is time consuming but doesn't involve sewing, but I'll start splitting things into short sewing tasks.

Today it's time to start cutting out your fabric!

Start by ironing your paper pattern--yes, iron your tissue paper or packing paper, whatever you used! Use low heat, no steam (you don't want to light the paper on fire or shred it by getting it wet.
Ironing paper
Nicely pressed paper--all the pattern pieces
Before moving on, draw a cutting line two inches above the current cutting line on your skirt front and back. This will be the cutting line for your skirt lining--the lining should be a bit shorter than the outer skirt. I don't have a picture of this, but you can see it on a close up of the skirt laid on the fabric a little further down in this post. 

Now iron your fabric--my lining and bodice top fabric are blue, and my skirt fabric is watercolor painted looking.
Iron the lining fabric (I'm also using this for the dress
bodice top)
Once your fabric is ironed, fold it along the grainline. I folded mine to create two folds--still just double thickness, I just folded both sides in toward the center line and then adjusted so one side was wider than the other (for the skirt that is wider than the bodice).
Folding the fabric--I folded both pieces toward the middle,
unevenly so the skirt would fit on one side (closest to
the bottom), and the bodice pieces would fit on the other
(closest to the top)... I haven't smoothed out the fabric yet,
so you can see the wrinkles
Once your fabric is folded correctly, lay out the lining pattern pieces (bodice front, bodice back, skirt front, and skirt back). Make sure they all fit correctly, and pin them down. Then, cut along the cutting lines. Make sure you don't cut off the bottom of the skirt pattern, but you can cut off any excess around the rest of the pattern (mine doesn't have any because the pattern pieces are cut out along the cutting lines). DO NOT CUT OUT THE DARTS.
Lay out the pattern--make sure it all fits!
Pin down the pattern--these are the bottoms of the skirt
pieces, where I've marked the cutting line for the lining
two inches above the bottom of the skirt
Cut along the cutting line
The lining is all cut out! 
Now it's time to cut out the dress fabric! After you cut your fabric (for the lining, but especially for the dress fabric), keep it folded so the "right side" is on the inside. This isn't a big deal if there is an obvious front and back to the fabric, but with my blue fabric, it's hard to tell which side is which. They look identical, but in sunlight, you might be able to tell the difference. I don't know which side is technically the "right" side, but I just want to be consistent.
Iron the dress fabric (my skirt fabric)
So I had to fold it like this--I had just enough fabric to cut
the skirt front and back along the right grainline--I wouldn't
recommend this mistake...

Cut out the rest of the pattern (my bodice is
the same fabric as the lining)
You also need to cut out the ruffle! There's no pattern piece for this because it's just a rectangle, and it would be a big waste of paper to tape together a rectangle when you could just draw it. The rectangle is 36"x6"--don't change the size, because it's folded in half lengthwise and gathered. If you make it narrower, a row of ruffle won't cover the stitching on the row below it.
Mark a rectangle for the ruffle--the instructions say it should
be 6"x35"--I mark 6" from the straight edge (along the selvedge)
Marking 6" for the ruffle
Measuring 36"
Cut out the ruffle
Fold the ruffle so the "right" side faces in, like
with the other pattern pieces
Finally, you need to cut out your interfacing. Assuming you did a side zipper like me, cut both the back and front on the fold. However, interfacing doesn't have the crossgrain/grainline issue like regular fabric, so you don't have to worry about lining it up with the grainline when you fold it. I didn't take a picture of the interfacing, but you can see the final product in the picture below.
All the pattern pieces, all cut out--still folded so the "right"
side of the fabric is folded to face inside, and the "wrong"
side faces out--I put the fabric into little piles--the dress,

the lining, and the interfacing on the right
The first bit of sewing will be on Sunday! We'll prep your fabric for sewing by marking it with a fabric marker and doing the staystitching around the neckline and armholes. Monday will be the first real sewing day!


  1. Are you supposed to have seam allowances on the interfacing? It seems like you don't need them but it reminds you that there aren't seam allowances on each piece in the pattern. Also, how wide is the interfacing you buy? Because mine is 20" wide, so a quarter yard is only enough for either the front or the back, no matter how i fold it. :(

  2. Yes, I do add seam allowance to my interfacing. You want stabilization around the neckline and armholes, including the seams themselves. You could use a slightly shorter seam allowance if you wanted.

    Sorry you don't have enough interfacing--I buy mine a few yards at a time since I go through it pretty quickly, so I just posted what the actual pattern description says. Sorry! Sometimes interfacing is 20" and sometimes 36"--the pattern must refer to 36" interfacing, but it doesn't say.