Pattern cutting 101.

If you’ve never cut a pattern out before…this is for you!
I chose a simple apron top pattern from Tuesday’s pattern  post. It is simple and only has two parts so it won’t be super complicated….but you can get some idea on how to cut out a pattern if you haven’t ever done it.  And I am loving the apron top, I think it turned out very cute. I think I will be making a few more for Spring and Summer. Especially because they are truly a “nap time” project. Which is exactly what I need at the moment.

Okay, on to cutting a pattern. Let me give you a disclaimer….I am not an expert. Most of what I have learned I learned in Junior High and from a good mom. With that said….I try to do things simply (but correctly) so if you are a professional seamstress….please don’t mame me. Pretty please.

Here’s what you will need:
*Your pattern pieces
*Your fabric
*The layout sheet on your instruction paper
*Fabric Scissors
*A marking pencil (any sewing supply store will have one….they are cheap)
*A tape measure

Step 1
Looking at the layout sheet on your pattern instructions….follow how it says to lay out the patterns. (Ok….I don’t always do this….but I should….because you won’t waste fabric like I am prone to do….but as long as they all fit…you can wing it….)

Again, I am dealing with a really easy pattern…so my front and back is the same piece.  You will normally have a front that is usually placed on a fold and a back that you will need to cut in 2 pieces.  Just follow what the pattern pieces say–it will tell you exactly what to do.

Step 2
Find the long grain line on the pattern piece–a long arrow.  You want to make sure that this is straight and on the grain of the fabric…and here’s how you do it.

Step 3
Using a tape measure, measure from the end of the arrow to the selvedge (the raw edge). Put a pin in this end.  Here…it’s 5 inches. (Please pretend your selvedges are together…they should be…..some people even pin them together…it’s my laziness..argh.)

Step 4
Repeat for the other end….making sure you have the same number.  And put a pin in this side.  Again 5 inches.

Step 5
Now you can pin the rest of the pattern onto your fabric–it is straight.  Just stick in as many pins as you need to keep it flat and you can cut it.  (Some people iron their pattern pieces….but I am just too lazy.  Enough said.)
Step 6
Now, you are ready to cut….but first, find all the notches (diamonds or triangles) on the pattern.  You will need these as markers while you are sewing.  Here is one here on the shoulder seam.
Step 7
Mark the notches.  This is how I do it.  Some people cut in, others just make a slit.  You can decide.
Step 8
Now finish cutting out your pattern piece.
Step 9
Sorry I am missing a picture here.  So I will refer to the photo above.  See those bigs dots….two on the pockets and two at the sides pf the pattern (where the ribbon ties will go), you will need these on your fabric….so we need to mark them.  Using your marking pencil….mark those onto the fabric.
You can kind of see a small blue dot (under the green leaf) where the pocket goes on the next picture.  Sorry it’s hard to see.  I just sneak my pencil under the paper pattern, find the spot and make a dot.  Some people use tracing paper and a tracing wheel–which is how I was originally taught — but that’s the only time I’ve ever done it.  Just decide what way is the easiest for you.
Step 10
Do the same thing with all pattern pieces….
Step 11
And now you are ready to follow the instruction paper….and START TO SEW! Wahoo!  (And eat a piece of chocolate….you totally deserve it.)
Ok…you want to see the apron top….here it is all done.
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  1. says

    adorable apron shirt! Very cute photo.

    Next week I am doing a black and white theme at my blog, wanted to check with you that it is ok if I feature a couple of your projects (the ruffle tights and jean extenders probably). I love your website, and your projects are always really well done, with clean lines, and classy.

    Thank you!

  2. says

    CUTE! I am a professional, and you did FABULOUS!
    There are a few time saving tips I have learned over the years in costume shops and whatnot… You dont have to notch out on those little triangles -cut straight through and then just cut perpendicular into the triangle to the pooint but not into your cutting line… Make sense? Also, I have had terrible luck with marking pens and pencils as they either don’t stay long enough to see them or are more than semi-permanant… I use a tracing wheel and transfer wax. Try it some time! It is WAY easier!
    And lastly, don’t forget to iron your patterns before cutting them out 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can’t wait to see what you have for next week!

    • says

      I just found your blog via Pinterest. Love this. Also, always iron your fabric. and iron seams etc…the iron is your best friend in order to have a clean crisp professional look.
      Great tutorial, beautiful pics and clear instructions

  3. says

    My fave cutting tip is to not cut out the pattern piece before laying it on the fabric. Just cut roughly around it, but not on the line. When you go to cut through it and your fabric, you’ll find it much easier to get an exact cut. Does that make sense?

  4. says

    Thanks so much this was very helpful to me. I want to sew some doll clothes but have very little experience with sewing and patterns. I have wondered what all those triangles and such are on patterns and friends I asked were just not to helpful. Can’t wait until I find some time to try and sew something.

    Keep the beginner tips coming please. Even setting up the machine tips would help me!

    Thanks again.

  5. says

    Also, don’t forget to check your fabric direction if it’s directional. I have mistakenly cut out pj pants with the design upside down too many times to count. You’d think I’d remember to check it each time since I mess it up so often!!

  6. Marguerite says

    Don’t forget to mention how important it is to preshrink fabric before cutting out anything. Fabric should be washed and dried how it will be done after the garment is made.


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