This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years, Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.
To begin our week of knit sewing tutorials, Miranda is gonna tell you everything you ever wanted to know about knit fabric and selection, and round here I’m going to show you how to cut knit fabric properly. Of all the steps involved in garment making, I’ll admit that cutting is my least favorite. It just isn’t as fun as fabric selection and design, nor is it as rewarding as the actual sewing. Here are some key steps to cutting knits that are quick, easy and accurate, so you can move on to the fun part!
Prep the fabric:
- Pre-wash it! It saves you from heartache and misery later! Just do it!
- Find the grainline. Square up your fabric by folding it in half lengthwise (or perpendicularly to the greatest degree of stretch), and then holding each all four corners separately i.e. your palm, pinky and ring finger hold one side, and your thumb, index and pointer hold the other. Gently shift the front and back from side to side until you have no diagonal pulling or distortion. It should be smooth and straight. The fabric is now ON grain.
Another way to accomplish this—especially if you don’t want to fold the fabric in half down the middle (to minimize waste), is to eyeball about where you’ll need to fold, and then carefully place a long ruler down (Fiskar’s 3X16 is perfect) so that it’s exactly parallel to the rows created by the knits. While holding you’re ruler in place, fold the fabric over it, and then carefully slide it out.
Prep the pattern:
- Determine size based on your measurements, and cut pattern out (you may want to trace the pattern onto tracing paper first, so that you may use again in a different size–I’m a tracer! Sunni has a great post about tracing patterns, fyi.) If you do trace, be sure to clearly mark the pattern name, size, pattern piece and cutting instructions.
- Iron on a low, dry heat if needed.
- Determine whether or not you need to add a seam allowance (usually not necessary, but for instance, Ottobre patterns require you to add your own SA. It will probably be indicated in the cutting instructions).
- Reference the cutting layout to maximize your yardage.
Prep the surface/tools, you’ll need:
- A good hard surface like a dining room table, and make sure that none of your fabric hangs off the table as it will distort the fabric and prevent accurate cutting.
- A good self-healing mat and sharp rotary blade cutters (my preferred method by FAR, it’s so fast!)
- OR a sharp pair of dressmaker’s shears and pins.
- Pattern weights or equivalent . I use large (1 ¾”) metal washers, but you can also use cans of tuna, butter knives, or baby food jars. Use what you have!
- Marking tools i.e. water soluble pen, tailor’s chalk, your kid’s washable markers (never actually tried that one), or my favorite—a sliver of soap.
- Arrange your pattern carefully on your fabric according to instructions, and then either set pattern weights, or pin securely.
- Regardless of whether you are using a rotary blade or shears, you need to position yourself correctly. You want your left hand stabilizing the fabric, and your right hand positioned upright with your cutting tool (no angles). Reverse if left-handed. If you are using scissors then use long even snips, and if you’re using a rotary blade then go slowly, and use scissors for corners. ALWAYS close your blade when not in use, and ALWAYS keep your cutting tools far away from children.
- Move yourself around your cutting, (or if using a cutting mat, you can rotate it) but never move the fabric once you start cutting.
- Transfer all notches and markings onto wrong side of fabric. For notches, making a small snip is sufficient.
- Finally, I like to fold my pieces together with their patterns, just in case I need to check or re-mark anything before sewing.
Now you’re ready to construct!
**We are so excited today to offer a giveaway from Fiskars–the world’s #1 scissors brand! They are generously offering one lucky sewist a rotary cutter starter’s set, which includes an 18″ X 24″ cutting mat, a 45 mm rotary cutter, and a 6″ X 24″ acrylic ruler, three sewing tools I couldn’t live one day without! Like I mentioned above, cutting knit fabric is so much easier and faster with a rotary cutter and mat, and if you don’t have or have never tried these tools yet, they have the power to change your sewing life completely. To enter, simply leave a comment in this post! You can enter until next Sunday (1/13/2013) at 6:00 pm MST, when we’ll draw a winner to announce on Monday. NOW CLOSED**
Be sure to check out the counter-part tutorial for today knit fabric and selection over at Miranda’s blog, it’s an amazingly informative and comprehensive post, and one that I will definitely be referencing in the future!
More Stretch Yourself: