Lou Box Top Sewalong – Part 3 Cutting Your Fabric

Now that you have your pattern assembled and your fabric pre-washed, it's time to cut out the fabric pieces. First you'll need to fold the fabric on the straight of grain. Hold your fabric up in the air with right sides together and selvages meeting. The fabric should hang straight without any diagonal wrinkles. Adjust the selvages left and right until it hangs straight. This might take a little practice to perfect but you'll soon be able to recognize when your fabric is not lined up correctly.

Quick side note, in case you're wondering why it matters if fabric is on the straight of grain. Woven fabric is made up of threads that run vertically and horizontally. Gravity pulls on those threads in different ways, depending on which direction the fabric is hanging. The lengthwise threads are the strongest and most of the time, patterns will want you to cut clothing to match the lengthwise grainline. Sometimes, garments will be cut on the bias to create a curvy drape at the hem and more crosswise stretch across the body. In short, if it's not cut straight, it won't hang right and it could be more difficult to sew.

For this pattern, you will be cutting on the straight grain. Lay your fabric flat on a large table or the floor and smooth out any wrinkles. Make sure that the bottom layer doesn't have any wrinkles either. Using the pattern guide on page 4 of the pdf instructions, find the pieces you need for the design you are making. This pattern is mix and match, so you can easily swap in a different hem or neckline. 

For the sewalong, I'm making a scoopneck with a dip hem. (I'm also lengthening the pattern. More on that shortly!) Refer to the cutting diagrams in the pdf instructions and arrange your patterns pieces on top of the fabric. Here, I'm just barely able to squeeze in my pattern front and back next to each other (woohoo!). One of the great things about this pattern is that if you have a wide fabric you only need about a yard to make something.

Next, you'll want to check the length of the garment. The size chart in the pdf pattern provides the lengths for each view. Hold a tape measure to your shoulder and let it hang in front of you. Determine how long you'd like your top to be and compare it to the size chart.

With this pattern, it's really easy to lengthen or shorten the top. Simply move the hem pieces on top of the fabric. When making these tops for myself, I generally lengthen them by 2-3 inches because I'm 5'11". For views A and B, you should make the same changes to both front and back pieces. If you're making View C however, you can choose to make the back piece longer for a tunic style look. (Check out a this version by Lily Sage to get a gander of how awesome that would look.)

Now for cutting. There are basically two ways that you can cut out your fabric–using scissors and pins or using a rotary cutter and pattern weights. For beginners, scissors is generally the way to go because the rotary cutter supplies can be expensive and have a little tiny bit of a learning curve. Tilly has a really great tutorial about cutting and marking for beginners. 

The only thing to watch out for is that when you pin paper to the fabric it will wrinkle a little bit. I often skip the pins and just put one of my grid rulers (or anything handy) on top of the pattern to hold it in place. A rotary cutter will give a very accurate cut but you have to be sure to have a self-healing cutting mat underneath so that you don't damage the surface underneath. And then there's the tricky thing that the cutting mat is smaller than your fabric so you'll need to move it section by section as you cut.

All that said, do what works best for you. I often use a combination of scissors and rotary cutter, choosing whatever seems easiest for the fabric. Hold the fabric in place using pins or pattern weights (I just use whatever heavy this is handy). Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut around each piece.

For the rectangular pieces, I like to use a rotary cutter and grid ruler. It's just so quick and accurate. If I'm feeling kind of lazy, I will use the pattern piece as a size guide underneath the ruler. But you can also write down the measurements and actually use the ruler to measure. :)

After you cut your fabric, you will need to mark a few things–notches, pocket placement, etc. (Ok, actually, this pattern is so simple and doesn't have any gathers or pleats so I generally don't bother with notches but they are included just in case you will find them useful. If you're not feeling it though, go ahead and skip it. That's what I do! :) When I do make notches, I cut away an opening in the paper pattern using the notch punch (seen in top right of photo at the top of the post; you can also use a regular hole punch). Then I just use my scissors to snip a little bit inside the seam allowance. For marking the pocket placement you can use chalk, tailor's tacks or another removable marking device. 

And that's it! We're ready to start stitching tomorrow! If you haven't downloaded your pattern yet, now is great a time because I have a special discount code for the sewalong! Head over to the shop and use the code LBTSEWALONG25 to receive 25% off. Offer lasts until Feb 22, 2015 midnight PST.

Meanwhile check out:

Part 2: PDF Pattern Prep //  Part 1: Supplies  //  Sewalong Schedule  //  Tester Roundup