The old saying goes "Measure twice, cut once." So now's the time to really concentrate because we are cutting into our fabric today. Woohoo!
After our printing party yesterday, we've got all our pattern pieces set up so it's time to get cutting.
First things first: To wash or not to wash the fabric? Generally I say you should definitely wash your fabric first. Especially if the fabric is cotton, as there will be a little bit of shrinkage. The finished dress is loose and flowy, so it won't affect the fit of the dress if you don't wash the fabric. But why chance it? Wash if you have the time.
Second thing on the agenda: Ironing your fabric. One of the most important elements of sewing is actually pressing as you go. It's essential to start with smooth fabric and to continue to iron as you follow the steps. When in doubt, test a small section of your fabric to make sure your iron is not too hot. Especially when working with synthetic fabrics like polyester or delicate fabrics like silk. And press the wrong side of the fabric whenever possible. You just never know when your iron will start spitting. Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the dress and getting a spot on it when you're pressing the hem. Save yourself the frustration and be careful!
Laying out the fabric
As I prep to cut, I lay my fabric on the table with the selvedges touching and a fold down the middle. The right sides are together so I'm marking on the wrong side of the fabric with my pencil.
The selvedge is the finished edge of the fabric that usually has the name of the manufacturer on it. Here's what mine looks like. I've lined my edges up and smoothed out the fabric nice and flat. I'm ready to start laying out my pattern.
Laying out the pattern
I'm following the cutting layout on Page 4 of the Franklin dress pattern. Since I printed out my extra back yoke and pocket piece, I'm able to see that all my pieces fit easily. Admittedly, I overbought the fabric because it was so cute. So I've got a little wiggle room for my pieces. Once I've got them where I want them, I use push pins and secure them to my cork table. Chances are, you don't have a cork table. So you can either pin the paper to the fabric or use pattern weights to keep the paper from moving.
Do you not have enough fabric? Some options: Nix the pockets all together, or cut them out of a different fabric. Try a corresponding color or plain white. They will hardly, if ever be seen so you can save some room there. You can also cut the yoke facings in a corresponding color or white. They will also rarely be seen. Still don't have enough? Consider shortening the sleeves or making tiny ruffles with scraps like I did here.
The important part here is to make sure your body and back yoke pieces are directly on the fold. All other pieces can move around the fabric as long, and this is important, your grainline stays parallel to the selvedge. That random arrow that appears on every pattern piece is the culprit of many ill-fitting outfits. If you've ever tried on a skirt that just didn't sit right on your body, or a shirt that looked wonky on you, there's a very good chance the pieces were cut off-grain. Even an inch off grain can really cause a headache. So what does this mean for you? When you are laying out your pattern pieces, always make sure that the arrow is parallel to the fold or the fabric selvedge. Use a ruler and measure from the arrow to the selvedge and make sure they line up. It will save you a lot of headaches in the future. Trust me.
Tracing and Marking
Now that my pieces are laid out perfectly I have two choices. I can trace around the pieces with a pencil, which is what I prefer. Or you can go ahead and cut around the fabric without tracing first.
I personally like to trace with a pencil because I get a more accurate cut on the line I've drawn. It really is personal preference and both work fine. If you do choose to go straight into cutting, be very careful to cut right along the edge of the paper.
Once I've traced my pieces (and this goes the same for cutting them), I mark the dots and pleat lines on my pattern.
For the dots, I just use a pin to push a hole through the fabric and then immediately pick up the paper and mark the dot with a pencil.
For the pleats on the yoke, I marked outside the pattern, and then like the dots, I lift up the paper and continue into the seam allowance with my pencil line.
Once you have all of your marks on the fabric, it's time to cut! Take one last look and make sure you're happy with placement and pieces. Do you have all of them? Do you feel good? Then cut away!
Now get some rest because tomorrow we begin to stitch!