Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guide: Laying Out and Cutting Your Fabric

originally posted July 30 - moved to bring to top

Are you ready?

Now that you've got so much time invested in your muslin, I'm going to recommend you cut it apart. This is how I work with an altered muslin.

If you have very few alterations and prefer to work with pattern tissue, you can transfer your alterations and new markings to your tissue, and use the tissue to lay out and cut your fabric. I prefer the following method:

Mark match lines, moved pocket placement markings, notches for sleeves, everything that you want to make sure you have marked, prior to cutting the muslin apart.

Make sure you've marked your planned hemline.

Cut the muslin apart on the existing seam lines. You are cutting off your seam allowances and throwing them away as scrap. I'd also recommend that you cut off your pattern along your proposed hemline.

Press the muslin to use as pattern.

The pattern that you are left with is a pattern without seam allowances. I like to have my revised markings in a new color (here I used green Sharpie fine point), and cross out the old markings (here in blue) if they're no longer valid.
**if you are using a fabric that has a plaid or print match, drawing some horizontal markings as match lines along your seam lines, before cutting apart, is a good idea to aid in your layout. See image at very bottom of this post.

Pull out of the envelope the remaining pieces that weren't included in the muslin.

At this point, for any pieces that will be cut from the wool and are structural pieces, I cut off the seam allowances so that ALL my pieces are consistent. Above I've not cut the seam allowances off the pocket bag and the epaulet piece, but I have cut them off the collar band. Be sure to extend the notches and other markings to the seam line before cutting off seam allowances.

Transfer ALL alterations to relevant pieces such as facings.
In the pics below I show the process of translating the forward shoulder and high back changes I made on the muslin to the facing pieces. Keep in mind that the muslin has no seam allowances. What was marked as original seam allowances on the shoulder got changed when I made the alteration.

At the end of this post there will be a link to go to the Flickr set where all these pics can be seen in larger detail.

Lay out the muslin pattern pieces on the fashion fabric (coating wool)
Be sure to leave room for seam allowances between pattern pieces.
***At this Point, until I get the posts up about allowing for Turn-of-Cloth - DO NOT CUT out your collar or undercollar, but leave room for them in your layout.

Before cutting I use a chalk-o-liner and draw my seam allowances right on the wool, in part so that I don't make any mistakes and cut off my seam allowances. I added a 2" hem allowance for this particular short jacket. For a full length coat, depending on how full the skirt is, I'd be tempted to add 2.5".

Even though I go through extensive fitting in the muslin process, I still have a tendency to cut 1" seam allowances on the vertical seams. I'll trim those after my first fitting in the fashion fabric. I cut 3/8" sm allowances at neck edge, collar pieces, etc. and 5/8" seam allowances at the armscye and along the front and lapel lines.

Double-check that you've got all pieces necessary laid out on your fabric. Double-check that you have allowed for seam/hem allowances. Go ahead and cut your fabric. Note- do not do this late at night or when you are too tired.

If you are using a fusible underlining you'll want to have block fused your fabric prior to cutting.

Thread tracing for those who are not underlining.

If you are not underlining, or if you block fused prior to cutting, you will now thread trace your stitching lines and add markings to all your pieces.

You will want to use silk thread OR a rayon machine embroidery thread (such as Sulky or Madeira). Any contrast color that you have on hand is fine.

The reason to use silk or rayon is that you can press over it and it will not leave thread indents. You wouldn't think that the indents would be a problem, after all, how thick is thread? But once you've spent time pressing and getting your garment just perfect, then realize you've got these snakey lines pressed in, you'll see why you wanted to use the correct thread.

Tany has written a post about thread tracing two layers at a time then separating them here. I will generally trace single layer, although it is more time consuming, because I like the smooth lines. Either way is correct.

At this point, you now have all your fashion fabric (coating) fabric cut out and your seamlines marked. Make certain that you also mark your match points, notches, etc too. I use tailor tacks, or on a cotton underlining a wash-away marking pen for those types of markings. Chalk has limited shelf life for marks, so if you're going to reference the marks in fairly short order, chalk is good too. If your coat pattern included lining pieces, you should have transfered all of your alterations to your lining pieces also.

As promised - Here is the link to the Flickr set containing all the pictures from today's post. If you're interested in seeing any picture in full size, click on the "all sizes" icon just above any pic, and it'll take you to a larger photo.

**to layout a fabric that has a pattern that must be matched, use the lines that you've conveniently drawn for yourself on the muslin, across seamlines, to match the pattern and using a single layer layout, layout your garment. This is when it's super important too, to have written on each and every piece, because you want to layout your pattern pieces all right side up so that you don't end up with two left fronts and no right front. Below is a pic of a jacket I cut out in January. Unfortunately there isn't enough detail in this pic to see my little hatch marks at the seam lines, but they were terrific in aiding the plaid layout.

Next up: Interfacing, and shaping for lapels


Melissa Fehr Trade said...

Fantastic, thank you! This is just what I needed to sink my teeth into after a bunch of quick projects...

And in utter coincidence, I just bought that Talbot book off abebooks.com on Friday! ;)

Digs said...

On interlining: here in the GWN, it's a winter essential. I'd like to add that outdoors experts advise dressing "like an onion" ie, in layers, and to avoid stitching & squeezing the various layers together. For that reason, I'm planning to cut and sew (actually, serge) my interlining layer as one with the lining, not the fashion fabric. It'll be only minimally attached to the outer fashion fabric, and there will be a continuous, uninterrupted insulating air gap between the coat proper and the interlining.