Monday, April 7, 2014

Reader's Pick Sew-Along #1: Cutting, Thread and Alterations

Ready, set, sew!

Hold on, hold on. We can't get started with the sew-along until we cut out our pieces! Now some of you might have done this already, and some of you might have already made a muslin of this dress. (I did!) But for good reason...I needed to know what I was doing so I could help you! I do not consider myself an expert at this pattern, or anything for that matter, but I'm here to help answer your questions and guide you the best I know. Plus, I'm hoping to have fun with this too! Please note that I will be somewhat detailed in my directions, so some things you may want to pay attention to and other parts you may not-- it all depends on your skill level. As someone who went to school to be a teacher, I have to always assume that I'm working with various skill levels-- beginner to advanced! And if you are advanced and I miss something, please chime in! I'm learning a lot doing this sew-along! (I may also share with you a few of my mistakes, because I'm sure there is someone else out there that made the same mistake!)

So here we go...

Cutting Out the Pattern Pieces: Cutting out your pattern pieces can be one of the most important things you do. If they are not cut out correctly, you risk the garment not draping or fitting well. Assuming that all of you are using 60" wide fabric, the pattern wants you to cut out some of you pieces on the fold, meaning that your selvedges meet in the middle of your fabric. I always worry that my fabric is not going to be on grain, but with a cutting board with grid, a yard stick and pins, you should be able to make it work.

Find the center of your fabric. I find it by folding the fabric in half, then pressing it slightly. Then on my cutting surface, I lay the fabric face up, single layer. I center the crease on the cutting board, which will be my guide. Then with right sides together, I bring the selvedges to the fold making sure that the fabric lays flat. It is hard to get a straight edge on a knit. (When working with wovens, you can usually rip them to make a straight edge. You can't do that with a knit.) Your goal is to make sure the folds lay flat and fold smoothly.If my fabric does not stay in place, I use pins to keep it in place. Sometimes you can use the print on the fabric to help match things, but prints are not always printed on grain. I also watch the grain on the fold to see if it looks like the "lines" follow the fold. Don't worry if the edge of your fabric does not match up. The fabric cutter may have not cut your fabric on grain! (It's hard to do with knits!)




I do not always follow the cutting directions that the pattern gives me. Sometimes I feel like they are wasteful with the way they lay out pattern pieces. With this pattern, I cut out all of the pattern pieces that needed to be on the fold first. While laying things out, I realized that I may not have enough fabric... The fabric measured as 2 1/2 yards, but there was a huge curved cut making it more like 2 1/4 yards. This doesn't always make a big difference when you're not following the pattern directions, but it did this time! I had just enough fabric for the dress! 


Before cutting out ANY pattern pieces, make sure you have enough fabric for the single pieces. (The two front bodice pieces.) Go ahead and cut out the pattern pieces. 

Choosing thread: This step may sound silly to you, but I honestly had no idea which thread to pick. There are so many colors and not any dominate ones. I didn't like how the light colors looked, so it was a toss-up between black and purple. I picked the purple. It seemed to blend in well!


Cutting Alterations: Whether you are making a muslin as we go, or you already made it, no worries! I did not have too many cutting alterations. Plus I'm still learning about my body alterations, so I'm not as picky right now. I made two adjustments: made a smaller back bodice and cut out a size 16 on the skirt bottom and size 14 on the bodice. I made a muslin and it was good I did! When I tried on the muslin bodice, the back of the neck area really gapped. I'm not really sure what to call it. Do I have a sloped back? I could literally make a dart at the center back and still be comfortable. So my husband pinned it the best he could (see photo) and I used that as my guide to make the back smaller. 


When I tested the dart on my muslin, I made a dart that went about half way down my back. Then on the pattern, folded it along the fold edge to mimic the dart I made on the muslin. When cutting out the pattern in the good fabric, I still placed the pattern piece on the folded edge. It was just not exactly on the grain.

Grading up a size for the bottom was easy. Because I am working with a knit, it is easier to fudge the grading than to actually grade each pattern piece to another. If I were grading more than one size, I would have graded the waist of the skirt to match the waist of the bodice. But instead, I just stretched the bottom of the bodice to fit with the skirt.

Over on the Flickr page, one of our followers asked, "I started cutting out my pattern pieces and I need to add 1" to the bodice length. With the pleating in the front, I am not sure how to do this. There are no markings to show where to lengthen." I didn't notice that the lengthening lines were not included in this pattern. Honestly, I was a little stumped! So I did a little research and came across Handmade by Heather B. She has a really good tutorial on how she had to shorten the bodice and drafted her own lines. These lines look to be in a good place to also lengthen. So if you're having trouble, click the link above and let us know how it turned out!

If you have an adjustment question that pertains to cutting out your pattern, ask now!  

Here is a timeline of the sew-along. 
#2 - Bodice Pleats
#3 - Bodice Facing and Finish Bodice
#4 - Pockets and Skirt
#5 - Attach Bodice to Skirt
#6 - Sleeves
#7 - Hem, Belt and Finishing Touches

Step Two will be posted on Wednesday! I'll be here to ask any questions in the meantime!

14 comments:

  1. When I'm cutting out my fabric pieces, I can get really hung up on the right and wrong side of the fabric.
    Can you confirm that in your first two photos above, you've folded the fabric so that the RIGHT sides are together?
    Thanks!

    Also, I've never considered using a grid before, but that is a GREAT idea. I may try to find one at JoAnn's tonight.

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    1. Hi Annie,

      I have the fabric right sides together, so the wrong side is what you are seeing in the photos. You should definitely try the grid cutting board! It is a lifesaver in getting things straight. Plus you can pierce pins through it to keep your fabric in place.

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  2. I just got home from work and thankfully, my pattern was in the mailbox! yeahhhhh! better late than never!

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  3. Wow, I can't believe I have to ask this, but... to make a muslin, do I use muslin or do I need a knit fabric to make a test garment? I really wanted to work on this tonight! I am tracing off my pattern with visions of getting to cutting the muslin too.
    Thanks, Connie.

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    1. I'm so sorry I didn't reply to this post! I think I'm having trouble getting some comments because I've checked many times and this only showed up now. You can use muslin fabric, but it's best to used a fabric similar to what your finished garment will be. All fabrics lay differently and I like to see how the fsbric is going to lay on my body. I hope this helps!

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  4. Hi there , I'm a bit behind and just posted my fabric to flicker (with a question about it too!). Looking forward to getting started - here's my question - https://www.flickr.com/photos/52486734@N02/13698921934/in/pool-readerspicksewalong

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  5. Well I cut out today and have to make the markings, but I am right in step with you, so yay. :) I did accidentally swap the right front and left front but it really makes no difference to the end result, except that my pleated front will lay on the other side from the other ladies versions. (I did do this step correctly in the muslin...of course. LOL.) I should be able to post the progress somewhere, hopefully the blog, but I may decide to capture two or three steps together in one blog post to save me time.

    I love yours so far.

    I have to grade up in the skirt by a whole four sizes (12 to 16) so I just am going to gather the skirt a bit to make it fit the bodice. I tried darting the skirt in the muslin, but that was a huge hot mess. Eek. I wanted to grade from a 12 waist (which would have fit) to the 16 hip, but I couldn't wrap my mind around how to make it work with the pockets on the front. I suspect the gathered skirt should look okay.

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    1. I missed your comment too! I don't know why it didn't show that you commented! You did the same exact thing I did! I made the muslin bodice correctly, but the bodice is flip flopped in the good fabric! I was so upset because, I thought, what kind of teacher am I? Oh well, I'm human :o)

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    2. I also should have graded up my waist, but I only would have needed to one size. I figured the elastic would help fix this for me! If you were to make this again, I would create small darts on your pattern piece, then cut it out. Then you aren't taking inches away from your pockets.

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  6. Hi, I just logged onto this site and subscribed. I would sure like to make this dress, but I live in a remote area and it's hard to get supplies. What I want to know is if I start late, can I still have access to the steps in the future. I am going to Edmonton, Alberta on April 22 nd. and would be able to pick up my pattern and not only that I still would have to order my material whether I order from the site or not. I have to check how long it would take to get shipped to me. I have not ordered on site although I have been a subscriber for over a year. I also would like to know approximately how long this sew along is suppose to take. I'm sure going to keep checking in the future for others and hopefully I'll be prepared before the start date.

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    1. Thanks for following along! This sew along will be on the blog forever, so you will be able to see it. We do ship to canada, although shipping time varies but that is not in our control. I hope you consider trying out the pattern some time!

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  7. I had a problem trying to post onto this site, but I finally posted has anonymous. I did get directed to blog spot, but I'm not sure if it will connect or for that matter this one too. I did subscribe to the group too.

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    1. Hi Rose,

      I do moderate all comments, so that may be why you thought you were having trouble.

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