Mindful construction is a must when sewing. It starts with the cuts made by the creative genius (aka you). To make a garment that hangs properly, and is free of twisting and uneven hems, you must know how to cut the fabric the right way. You’ll be cutting like a pro by the end of this post, so let’s jump right in!

Benefits of Proper Cutting

Sloppy cutting calls for a sloppy garment, so make smooth, long cuts to help pieces line up properly when sewing. Cutting fabric correctly makes the final product look better. Not only will the seams match up, but the grainline will also fit better and hang nicely. When using a pattern, it’s important to cut on the specified pattern line for your size.

Which Tools Are Best?

  • Serrated shears cut knits and slippery fabrics best.
    • Use sharp shears to get the best cuts. 
  • Use all-purpose scissors for everything other than fabric, like pattern paper or packages.
  • rotary cutter will aid in assisting with lots of straight cuts. A rotary mat and a ruler will make this cutting process easier.
  • Use a vinyl tablecloth to protect tabletop surfaces and help with slippage.

Pay Attention to Grainlines

Distinguish warp and weft thread before cutting (aka grainlines). Find the grainline and cut it as needed by folding the fabric in half where the two selvages meet to allow the fabric to hang correctly and make symmetrical cuts. Garments are usually cut lengthwise because they are stronger this way and the garment will fall properly when cut unless the pattern states otherwise. 

Fabric Maintenance

Prewash and press fabric so that it’s the right size and wrinkle-free, then leave the fabric to hang and relax before cutting to allow it to take its actual shape. Once the fabric has been washed and had time to relax, it’s time to lay the fabric on a large cutting space making sure it is flat before adding pattern paper on top. 

Cutting Techniques

  • Square off edges of fabric if it has not been cut correctly at the shop using an L-square or a cutting mat with rulers.
  • Use pins, clips, or pattern weights as needed to cut with ease and precision
  • Pay attention to pattern symbols like “cut on fold” which are designed to make symmetrical cuts. 
  • Iron pattern paper pieces.
  • Make long strokes for straight seams and short cuts for curves or short seams.
  • Distinguish which side you want to make your prominent side (usually referred to as the right and wrong side) and stay consistent with your choice
  • Place pattern pieces properly onto fabric before cutting to find the best layout for your project (still adhering to the grainline directions)

Cutting Prints

  • Follow the print when cutting to easily align the seams for sewing. 
    • This makes the difference between RTW and high-end-looking clothing. 
  • Cut one layer at a time to match the print to the cut of the first layer.
  • Keep any directional prints in the same direction when planning the pattern layout.
  • Buy more yardage than recommended if you have special plans for certain areas of printed fabric.

Cutting Slippery/Delicate Fabrics

  • Add tissue paper under slippery fabric like silk to keep it from moving as much
  • Add water to your fabric to add weight and make the fabric less likely to slip if your surface allows

Proper cutting makes the world of sewing a lot easier and more rewarding. Which cutting techniques are your favorite? 

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