Cutting fabric used to be my least favorite part of the sewing process. But then mid-last year I bought this absolutely fabulous bright daylight lamp (the kind professional photographers use) which gives off so much light that it literally looks like sunshine, even in the middle of the night. That light made all the difference – no longer a dreaded chore, cutting has become fun. So much so, that I want to show you how I do it. You know, in case you like some of my ideas, or have some good ones of your own to share.
I use pattern weights to hold the pattern in place. I occasionally dream about getting those large ones professional patternmakers use but, ugh – shipping and storage and moving… I’ll stick with the little guys for now. I use a rotary cutter to cut the fabric. On a quick and easy project, I just cut right around the pattern piece. On more involved projects with odd layouts, I trace around the pattern pieces with chalk, then cut.
My patterns have notches for matching seams and holes for marking inside the pattern piece, such as for darts. Because the paper is so thin, I reinforce the area with clear tape, both front and back. I consider this an integral step of pattern preparation, right before cutting it. Then I notch the notches and punch the holes.
Once the outline of the piece is cut in fabric, it’s time to mark it. The notches get a simple snip with sharp scissors, the holes get filled in with chalk. Like this:
When the paper comes off, I connect the dart dots with a thin line of chalk (I like the pen-style Chaco liners) using a straight and/or curved ruler. For double-ended darts, I also mark the center line so that I have a straight line to follow when folding out the dart.
If a piece is cut on fold, I flip it over and mark it in the same way. Now, I only do this with stable fabrics. Anything shifty gets cut single-layer. Once I have the chalk lines in place, I pin the darts so they’re ready to sew. Then, and only then, does the cut piece move from the cutting table to the sewing table.
Back when I first started sewing, I considered sewing the darts part of cutting out. I didn’t think it was “real sewing”, you know. Now I know better 🙂
So, please talk to me: how do you cut and mark your fabrics? Are you partial to rotary cutters or do you prefer shears? How do you transfer dart and other important markings from pattern to fabric?