Ask any home sewer what she dislikes the most about sewing garments and she’ll probably say cutting out patterns. We’re all so eager to get sewing and working with our fabric that we hate anything that stands in our way. But the cutting-out-pattern stage can be almost enjoyable if you practice these five tips:
Cut your dependence on pins and I promise you will be so much happier! I stopped pinning my pattern pieces to the fabric years ago after I saw a video of the Chanel atelier working on a collection. The woman cutting out a gown used weights to hold the pattern in place atop the fabric, and she placed and re-placed the weight on the pattern as she cut. Not a single pin was used to hold the pattern to the fabric. I have four dressmaker weights like the one in the photo above, and find that this is enough to keep patterns in place. When I’m done cutting a piece I fold it with the tissue on it, and then place it in my project bag. Sometimes I’ll put a pin in a smaller piece, like a facing, just to keep the tissue and fabric together more easily.
Another game-changer for me was upgrading my scissors. I use Kai dressmaking shears and they cut through fabric like butter. I almost wept the first time I cut fabric with them, it was that delightful. Many people swear by their Ginghers. Use whatever kind of scissors you like: They should feel comfortable to hold and operate, and they shouldn’t give you any kind of resistance with most fabrics. Keep your scissors nice and sharp. And it’s ok to use your good scissors to cut through pattern tissue and pattern paper.
You will enjoy the cutting-out process so much more if you allocate it to a time of day when you’re feeling alert and generally cheerful. I like to cut my patterns out during the day on Sunday. I’ll cut out one to two patterns at a time, but never more than that, and I take my sweet time. Never cut out patterns when you are tired or your mind is elsewhere. You will have epic fails and you’ll do things like cut out two left front bodices and not have enough fabric to correct your mistake.
This tip can be a challenge for anyone living in a small space, like an NYC apartment. Think about other options that might be available. Can you impose on a friend? In the past I’ve used both a friend’s quilting studio and office conference tables after work. Just make sure you clean up after yourself—don’t leave threads and tissue scraps on the floor. Also, think about getting a folding table that you can store out of the way when you’re done cutting, like under your bed.
I park my iPad on my cutting table (also known as my dining table) and watch Netflix while I’m cutting away. I’ll save episodes to watch, so I associate cutting out with good things like watching a fresh season of a favorite series. Or, try listening to an audiobook or some music. Just remember not to get too distracted while you’re cutting, or else—uh-oh.