The Joy Of Cutting

by Erin Schneider

Fabric.  Cutting fabric.  Just to be clear.

Some folks like planning out costumes.  Others like buy the materials.  I know people who groove on beading, adding trims, hand-sewing, and even just sewing Flap A to Slot B with a sewing machine.  But rarely do I encounter anyone who enjoys cutting out a costume from the raw materials.

I guess that makes me strange (well, that, and a slew of other reasons), because my favorite part of sewing is pinning down a pattern and cutting it out.  In fact, I like doing it so much, and have gotten so proficient at it, I can barter my mad cutting skillz for other sewing services.  Like, you know, sewing.  Which, oddly enough, I don’t enjoy as much.

If you’d like to improve your own mad cutting skillz, here are a few helpful tips and tricks:

A.  If you are using a commercial pattern, cut out the pieces you need first, before pinning them to your fabric – especially if you’re trying to line up the design on the fabric.

B.  Use decent pins.  I like longer, flat head pins that lay, well, FLAT against the pattern and the fabric.  If your pins start to function poorly – you can’t jab them through anything – invest in a new box.

C.  If you are making a pattern, use the proper material.  Some people like tissue paper or plastic sheeting.  I say a pox on these inferior materials!  Tissue tears and plastic shifts (as well as wears out your pins faster.  And buckles so you don’t get a smooth, accurate cut.  And can stretch out.  In short, plastic is dead to me.).  I prefer a medium weight pattern paper, unlined, like the stuff they sell at the cutting counter at JoAnn Fabrics.

D.  Make sure your pattern pieces AND the fabric are smooth before you pin.  Iron them both (yes, you can iron paper) if necessary.

E.  Pin perpendicular to the edge of pattern, not parallel.  It will hold the pattern to the fabric better.

F.  Don’t pull the fabric while you’re pinning it, or you won’t get an accurate cut.

G.  I recommend investing in a cutting mat and rotary cutter.  I also like to have a pair of tiny sharp scissors to cut in the corners.

H.  If you are cutting leather or delicate materials, use weights, not pins to hold down the pattern and work SLOWLY.  Move around the table, and don’t shift the fabric to reach it.

Share with the group – what do YOU like best about sewing?

Pictured above:
OFLA® Rotary Cutter
Clover Flower Head Pins



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4 responses to “The Joy Of Cutting

  1. To help keep pins sliding freely, you can use a bar of ivory soap for a “pin cushion”. Always throw out those that have become bent or get that little snaggy hook on the end.

  2. And to make cutting go a bit faster, you can forgo the pins and use large washers as weights to hold the pattern in place while you rotary cut them. However if it is a slippery or super stretchy fabric, still best to use the pins.

  3. Those are great ideas Cheryl! Thanks for sharing them. 🙂

  4. Jo

    I love the large washers. Just plonk them down along the edges, and the fabric isn’t going anywhere.

    I really dislike cutting things out, though. Actually, I dislike fabric shopping, creating the pattern, and cutting out the pattern and fabric. It’s the actual sewing and fitting I enjoy.

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