Layout and cutting.
You wouldn't think there would much to say about this subject.
You would be wrong.
There is a reason that the cutters are the highest paid workers in a good sewing shop - in their hands the inventory can be used, or wasted.
First of all the most important thing you have to do is to pay meticulous attention to grainline. There are some areas in sewing where you can take shortcuts, but measuring both ends of the straight of grain line to the selvage edge is not negotiable.
Grainline is everything.
The pay off will be garments that will hang properly without twisting (we have all had collars that seemed to lie right over one shoulder and stood out stupid on the other).
Fold your fabric in half carefully keeping the selvages even, if cutting double.
If matching patterns or stripes however cut single layer. Lay that pattern piece, that should be on the fold, on flat, not folded, fabric, cut it out, flip that piece, still pinned to the fabric, over, making the centre front a fold, match patterns or stripes and then complete the cutting out. (Tell me if this makes sense or not- I can see it my head can you see it in yours?).
Back to basics like pinning.
It has been my observation that many sewers either use too many pins (this can be a problem as each pin picks up a little bit of the fabric and consequently can produce a fabric piece larger than the pattern) or too few - which can make for wobbly cutting.
My advice is to put a pin at any pivot points, corners for example, and about a hand length apart.
The hand length is important.
When cutting lay your hand on the pattern piece to hold the edge still and cut from the bottom of your hand length to the top, stop cutting, re-position your hand, and start cutting again. Flatten the pattern with your hand, cut that length, pause and cut again. Start, cut, stop. This method also works really well if you use weights to hold your pattern pieces down (like the infamous tuna fish cans or beach rocks) and a steady hand on the edge of the pattern keeps things still.
For hard to cut and slippery fabrics I prefer to use weights actually, less chance of a "lift" with the cut and eliminates the issue of too many pins consuming fabric.
This might be slower than you are used to cutting but is far, far more accurate.
The other thing, and this makes a huge difference to an accurate cut, is to keep the pattern piece to the right of your scissors if you are using right-handed scissors, and to the left if you cut with left-handed scissors. This might seem like a small detail but try it - you will see a difference.
Of course to cut this way, keeping the pattern piece on the same side as your cutting hand, can be awkward, so do what I do and "chunk cut" some pieces so you can rotate them as necessary to maintain this relationship of the pattern piece to your scissors.
Tomorrow you can be surprised to learn that I have strong opinions about marking.
Thanks for hanging in with me on this.
- I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon