Welcome back to the Zayn Sew-Along! The last time we met I told you how to assemble your digital pattern. Now we need to talk about preparing your fabric, cutting out the pattern and marking. Now, for many this is the most dreaded part of any project. I must admit, it's not my favorite part but it can make or break a project. A well cut out pattern is key to a successful garment.
Assuming by this point you have chosen your woven or knit fabric, now is the time to pre-treat them. Choose the cleaning method for your finished garment. Test that method on a four inch square of fabric before you start. This way you can check for shrinkage or any damage. Once you have decided on a cleaning method, go ahead and apply that to the rest of your fabric. While you are washing your fabric, why not head over and join our Sew-Along Facebook Group? Here you can easily ask questions, post pictures of your project and see what everyone is working on!
Now let's straighten your fabric. This is a step that only applies to those using wovens, not knits. As Linda says, this is one of the most important, but often the most skipped step of the garment sewing process. It is vital that the pattern is cut on the straight grain of the fabric because this will keep your project from stretching out of shape, or not fitting correctly.
To find the straight of grain, snip into the fabric along one selvage edge and either tear across the crossgrain (or the weft of the fabric) or pull a thread across the width and cut along the loosened thread line. This will give you a straight edge where the warp and weft grains are at a90 degree angle.
For those of you using knit fabrics, you don't need to worry about straightening the fabric - it is almost impossible. However, there are some ways to identify the straight of grain. Lay your fabric out in a single layer and chalk mark the vertical ribs (running parallel to the selvage) in a few places. If your knit curls at the edges, you can also cut off the curly selvage, using the small holes that remain after the manufacturing process as a cutting guide.
Now it is finally time to cut. Follow the cutting layout for your size/fabric width. You will notice that we have you cut each piece on a single layer of fabric. We have found that this creates a cleaner cut on the pattern piece. One thing to note however is on the sleeve. When you go to cut the second sleeve, make sure you flip it so that your two pieces are mirrored to one another.
I'm using my handkerchief green linen for my woven version, but will be using two different colored solids, black and mint, for my knit version. To color block the shirt, I cut the following pattern pieces out of the black: Right Front, Front Drape, Upper Left Back, Neck Binding and Sleeve. I cut the following pieces out of the mint: Upper Left Front, Right Back, Back Drape. Aside from that, I cut out the pattern following the instructions.
Once everything is cut, mark all your notches and dots immediately. I know some of you like to skip this step, but we don't recommend it! Pattern markings are essential to the sewing process, especially for this pattern because the dots on the center front are especially important. I start by snipping my notches, and as you can see below, I snip into the fabric, as opposed to cutting triangles that protrude out.
Now for the dots. Put away your marking pens and pencils. You are going to mark these with a tailor tack. I know, it seems laborious and yes it takes a tiny bit more time than using a marker, but you will thank yourself in the end. I have to say that ever since I started using tailor tacks, I haven't gone back to marking pens. Why? Because they stay in the fabric. They don't rub off, they don't disappear, you can leave the project for a week, come back to it and there they are, ready to help. So try it for me, just this once.
Star by placing a pin through the point you want to mark.
Spread the layers apart to expose the pin.
Using silk thread (in a color that contrasts with your fabric) and a fine needle (so as not to leave a mark in your fabric) take one stitch at the entry or exit of the pin.
Complete stitch loop and there you have it! A tailor tack is basically a loose knot that you can easily take out of your project when you are finished, but is easily visible while you are working. Now go ahead and mark all your dots.
Now it's time to check your sewing tools. Test your needle, thread and fabric combination. We recommend 100% silk-finish cotton thread on wovens and 100% polyester thread for all knits. I'll be using ISACORD machine embroidery thread in my serger, which is finer and smoother than regular serger thread, resulting in less lint residue.
Start your project with a new needle. I am using a Universal 75/10 needle on my woven and 70/11 for my knit. But that is what works with my fabric/thread/machine combination. Test your combination first. This will help resolve any stitching issues before you begin your project.
I'm using glass head pins for this project, and I'm also keeping my tailor's ham and sleeve board on stand-by. I also have a roll of Fusi-Web to help me stabilize my knit. My fabric is cut and marked and my tools are ready for action. Join me for the next post, where we will work through steps 1-4!