Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coat Sew-Along: Pre-Treating and Cutting Your Fabric


Hello, sew-alongers! (Sewers-along?) Well, I’m getting a slower start this week than I anticipated. I did, however, cut out my fashion fabric yesterday. Man, this coat uses a lot of it! Here are a few tips for cutting this beast.

1. First of all, don’t forget to pre-treat your fabric. If you’re using a wool, you’ll want to pre-shrink it in some way. My preferred method is to simply press it with plenty of steam. (You can also ask your dry cleaner to do this.) You can also use this dryer method from the fabulous Pam of Fashion Sewing Supply. One caveat: if it’s shared machine, like at a laundry mat, be very careful. Residue from dryer sheets can build up in the machine, leaving big greasy spots on your fabric. (Ask me how I know.) If you use drier sheets at home, clean your dryer thoroughly before using this method. 

If your fashion fabric is cotton (some folks in warmer climes are using cotton twill), you can either steam press it or wash and dry it in a machine to pretreat.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to cut out your fabric; about two hours should do it. You can cut your lining now and get it over with, or wait until later in the process since we don’t need it right away.

3. Circle the cutting layout you’re using so you don’t get confused as you refer to the pattern sheets. It’s very easy to mix all those diagrams up!

4. Unless you’re using 45” wide fabric, you’ll have to cut this coat out in a single layer. (Until you get to the end, then you can lay the skirt back and skirt facing out on a fold.) Lay your fabric out, right side up. My cutting table isn’t nearly long or even wide enough for my fabric, so I worked by pinning and then cutting one or two pieces at a time, and then shifting the fabric.

5. On a single layer layout, you must cut one piece with the pattern right side up. Then cut it again with the pattern wrong side up. This will give you two mirror-image pieces (just like you would get in a double layer layout). Here’s how I did this: pin and cut the first piece, and then remove it from the pattern tissue and set aside briefly. Flip the pattern piece over, and then pin and cut the second piece. Remove it from the tissue. Put the pieces together, right sides together with the edges aligned as perfectly as possible, and then pin the tissue back to the pieces, pinning all the way around. Now your pieces are ready to be notched and marked. (See why you need two hours to do this?!)

6. When cutting a piece or two at a time, don’t forget to conserve fabric as much as possible. It’s easy to forget this since you can’t see the entire layout. When cutting around your pattern pieces, don’t cut past corners. You may need to lay another piece right next to where you just cut.

7. I ignored the pockets, and put big scraps in a pile to cut those out later. Don’t forget that you need to cut the pocket out four times. Remember, also, that you don’t have to cut your pockets out of your fashion fabric. You may prefer to use your lining fabric for the pockets to cut down on bulk. Another option is to use the fashion fabric for the pocket layer closest to the body, and lining fabric for the other side of the pocket.  
Any pre-treating or cutting questions? 

P.S. Stop by the Flickr group; it's hopping over there!



24 comments:

  1. Gertie I have the same fabric as you. Did you pre-treat yours with the steam? I also adore your book, It's fabulous. Krista

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    1. Thanks! Yep, I would steam boiled wool as a precaution.

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  2. Apologies for a naive question - why do you need to pre-treat wool fabric? I've used pure wool tweed several times in sewing projects, and never pre-treated. They worked out ok.
    Not doubting your word, just curious.

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    1. Wool often shrinks, and you want it to shrink up before you sew your project, rather than after!

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  3. Hi Gertie, I have started working on the wiggle dress, but for some reason I can't find two pattern pieces. A2 and C2- the lower half of the front pattern pieces. Are they somewhere else, am I blind or (hopefully not) did they forget to print them? I would really appreciate a quick response! Thank you

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    1. No, they're there. I don't have the book handy right now, but if you look at the top of each pattern sheet, it will tell you which projects are included. The wiggle dress goes over several pattern sheets if I recall correctly.

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    2. Yes, I found it! Thank you:) pattern sheets 4&5. Silly me, got all stressed out for nothing:) I love the book. It has the stuff you've been working on on different platforms, all together, on the table. Wish me luck with the gussets..!

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  4. Gertie, I know you are terribly busy but can you just quickly tell me if cutting out each piece individually is for precision or for pattern to fit on fabric? Thank you,
    Erin

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    1. It's so it can all fit on the fabric. If you look at the cutting layouts in the pattern directions, that's how they have you do it for 60" wide fabric. If you don't, you'll run out of yardage!

      However, 45" wide fabric is cut on the fold. It's all figured out by Butterick to get the most economical cutting layout.

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    2. Thank you! I appreciate your reply and now I'm ready to cut@!!
      Erin /Graceamen @Flcikr

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  5. I'm still waiting for the pattern to arrive... according to the tracking it is stuck in Chicago since 22nd September.
    At least I figured out two possible sources for the woolen fabric I'm looking for (my local fabric store didn't have any of the colours I'm aiming for: which is emerald green, deep purple or dark red)

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    1. Lilja Geourgeous fabrics is having a 24 sale on now. 25% off

      http://www.gorgeousfabrics.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=13489

      http://www.gorgeousfabrics.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=16816

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  6. Gertie,
    Do you know an easy method for shortening the skirt since you have to do it at the very, very long bottom edge? I need to take off at least two inches.

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    1. The easiest way to do it is to just take 2" off the bottom.

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  7. Hi Gertie!
    I'm using 45" wide vintage corduroy, so I have to fold it crosswise and cut in half. I have 2 pieces that are 4 yards long each. Should I cut one piece at a time or cut 2 at a time? It's light- to mid-weight fabric.
    Thanks!

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    1. No, 45" wide fabric is cut on the fold according to the pattern layout in the instructions.

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  8. I second Erin's question, is the single layer cutting for precision purposes or because all the pieces won't fit otherwise? I'm using suiting so I'm not worried about thick fabric issues, but I don't have enough room on my table to cut single layer without most of the fabric falling off the edge. Also some of the pattern pieces are bigger than my table, since I'm not placing the fabric in the traditional lengthwise format.

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  9. Well I was going to get my dry cleaners to steam my fabric - but when they told me how much they were going to charge, I changed my mind! £21 (about $35) seems too much to me....

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    1. I do mine myself with an iron and lots of steam (no tumble dryer, so I can't do the wet towel method). It's tedious, but not difficult. Plus you can always do a bit at at time and come back later. £21 just seems mad to me - I've already spent enough on the fabric!!

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    2. definitely! i tried the dryer method and it was perfect though i had a ton ton ton of gray fuzzies in my filter and all over the floor where i shook out and folded my fabric. oh well - a little cleanup time = small price to pay ;)

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  10. Hi will you be doing a definitive guide to the shoulder dart and clipping treatment? I think some of us could do with it.

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  11. Hi G. I'm a beginner and completely obsessed with your page. I was just wondering what type of fabric you used and from where? I've noticed others mention that lace fabric as well

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  12. Hi! Where can we purchase wool fabrics? I am looking for one the exact color as the model wears for the photo of your coat. That color looks really good on my skin tone but no one in town carries nice wool for coats. I'd appreciate any help! Thank you!
    -Reyna
    reynalay@gmail.com

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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