IN ASSOCIATION WITH
‘Ease’ is the amount required in a garment so you can move readily. Consider the fit you want – are you looking for a loose or close-fitting garment? “Cotton lawn is a lightweight fabric that is great for summer dresses, skirts and blouses. I’d recommend using a size 70 microtex needle to avoid leaving large holes in the fabric.” CAROLINE BOARDWELL REID, CROFT MILL
PREPARE YOUR PATTERN
Your pattern pieces can easily become crumpled when stored in the envelope, so it’s a good idea to give them a press before starting. This can be done as individual pieces or as one big sheet before cutting out. Use a cool setting on your iron, being careful not to burn the paper. Pressing the pattern will help ensure your fabric pieces are accurately cut.
CONSIDER YOUR FABRIC
MULTIPLE SIZE CUTTING LINES These lines indicate dress sizes. Highlighting yours can help with cutting.
BUST/HIP INDICATORS Located at the bust and hip points on the pattern – make any necessary adjustments if yours don’t fall there.
TUCKS AND GATHERS Bring these lines together before stitching.
GRAINLINE Align this mark with the grain of the fabric i.e. parallel to the warp (see below).
.LENGTHEN/SHORTEN HERE This is an opportunity to customise the pattern to your preferences.
BUTTON / BUTTONHOLE PLACEMENTS These indicate where buttonholes should be made on a garment.
FOLD LINE This mark indicates that the pattern piece should be positioned along the fold of the fabric, creating a larger ‘mirrored’ piece.
MISCELLANEOUS MARKINGS These come in a range of sizes and are used as points of reference on a pattern to indicate where pieces should be placed.
NOTCHES Match two pieces of fabric together at these points.
“Neatening edges on fine cotton can be challenging, as they pucker when zigzagged with a normal machine foot. It’s worth investing in an overcasting foot, which has either a bar or a bar and a brush. Position the bar on the raw edge and work a zigzag, three step zigzag, over-edge or overcasting stitch – the neatened edge will stay completely flat. An over-edge or overcasting stitch looks just as good as those produced by an overlocker.” MAY MARTIN, SEWING PERSONALITY
UNDERSTAND YOUR FABRIC
PLACING YOUR PIECES
Getting to grips with your fabric is a fundamental part of sewing. Before you start, familiarise yourself with:
With the paper pattern pieces facing up, place them onto the fabric. Some pieces will need to be placed on the fold of the fabric (where it’s folded in half, giving you a mirrored piece), which will be indicated on the individual pattern pieces themselves. Most patterns offer stitchers a layout guide for the placement, according to the width of your fabric. This helps you get the most from your fabric, and avoids wastage. Tissue paper patterns allow the motifs of the fabric to show through, which helps with pattern matching so you can adjust if necessary. Pattern pieces that are not indicated to be placed on the fold need to be placed on the material with the grainline arrow running parallel to the selvedge. Measure the distance from one end of the arrow to the selvedge, repeat for the other side of the arrow, and move the pattern piece slightly until both measurements are the same. Once you’re happy with the placement of your pattern pieces, carefully pin to secure.
WARP These are the yarns that run the length of the fabric. They are stronger than weft yarns and less likely to stretch.
WEFT These run over and under the warp threads across the fabric from selvedge to selvedge. BIAS The bias grain runs 45° to the warp and weft of the fabric. Cutting garments on the bias creates a finished piece that will follow the contours of the body. SELVEDGE The non-fraying, woven edges that run parallel to the warp grain is the selvedge.
Before you begin to cut out pattern pieces, it’s a good idea to wash your fabric first. This means that you will know how the material reacts and also reduces the chance of shrinkage in your completed garment. Once the fabric has been washed, press it with an iron using a suitable heat setting. After, lay out your fabric on a large surface, ready to begin pinning and cutting.
READING A PATTERN
The basic markings you will find on commercial dressmaking patterns are important to familiarise yourself with. These marks indicate various techniques or steps and are best transferred onto your fabric pieces once you’ve cut them.
Regency cotton lawn in Kyoto blue, £11.50 per metre, croftmill.co.uk