How to Sew a Simple Dress ~ Step 3 [A Series]

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Hey, you!

Welcome back to the How to Sew a Simple Dress series. So glad you’re still with  me!

Last time, we had to be very brave and face our body measurements in Step 2 ~ Fitting Our Sewing Pattern. And we did so bravely, because we’re serious about unleashing our dressmaking superpowers!

Since we’re here, I’m assuming we’ve washed, ironed, and squared our fashion fabric.

I’m also assuming that we’ve chosen our final pattern size and bravely altered our sewing pattern to fit our body.

Now, we’re ready to commit…

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Series Contents

Step 3: Over at the Cutting Table

Now, that we’re over at the cutting table for real, we’ll be doing the following:

If you need to brush up on  any of the above skills, you’re just one click away!

Step 3a: Choose a pattern layout.

The first step at the cutting table is laying out our tissue or duplicated pattern pieces.

And the first consideration is fabric width. After we’ve determined our fabric width, we’re ready to choose a layout.

For example, the width of my fabric is 51 inches, which is more than enough for me to fold my fabric with right sides together (RST), selvage to selvage.

To keep things super simple, I’m going to choose the 45 inch standard layout suggested in the pattern guide sheet for View A.

v9237-layout-chosen

Then, find a cutting surface that is at least one yard (36 inches) long — longer is even better.

Ideally, we want to lay out ALL of our pattern pieces BEFORE pinning. This way we can make sure that we have enough fabric to cut out all our pattern pieces on grain as instructed by the pattern guide sheet.

Make sure there are no permanent creases in your fabric that you need to work around.

It is also super critical to make sure that NONE of our fabric is hanging over the edge of our cutting surface! Just fold the excess at the end of your cutting surface and unroll as needed.

The tissue pattern gives us information on how to layout the pieces using the grain line and how many to cut of each pattern piece.

For this pattern, the FRONT (4) pattern piece is “Cut 1 on the fold.” This means that after we cut and open the fabric it will yield one full front dress piece.

The BACK (1) and the RUFFLE (2) pieces are “Cut 2,” so we’ll need to make sure they are grain perfect when we lay out the pattern pieces.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about laying out a sewing pattern!

Once all the pattern pieces are laid out and we’ve double checked that they are grain perfect, it’s time to…

Step 3b: Pin our sewing pattern.

First, pin the four corners on the diagonal.

Next, pin at the notches in the SA.

Finally, pin between the notches (shown), placing the pins about a hand’s width apart — parallel to the cutting line in the SA. (Once you’ve become a pro, this step can be optional.)

v9237-pattern-pinned-on-diagonal-at-corners

We might need to place more pins around curved areas to ensure we end up with even, smooth edges as we cut.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about pinning a sewing pattern!

Now, that every thing is secured, it’s time to…

Step 3c: Cut out our pattern.

The #1 thing we need to remember is this: We must keep the bottom blade of our dressmaker’s shears on the cutting surface at all times!

And the #2 thing is to: Take our time!

v9237-cutting-past-corners

If we have sharp dressmaker’s shears and we do #1 and #2, we’ll end up with lovely, even cut edges every time!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about cutting out a sewing pattern and a super bonus cutting tip!

Now that we’ve cut out our pattern pieces neatly, it’s time to…

Step 3d: Transfer pattern markings to fabric.

You want to transfer all pattern markings: notches, circles, squares, triangles, etc.

A sewing pattern is like a puzzle, and all these markings will help us put the puzzle together with a minimum of stress.

REMEMBER: If you don’t have time for marking, you have no business cutting!

And here’s how we’re going to transfer markings from our tissue pattern to our fashion fabric…

v9237-transferring-pattern-markings

Using a water-soluble marking pen, we’ll mark the following:

  • Notches;
  • Center front (CF) because there is no CF seam;
  • Circle at CB (pierce it with a straight pin and mark the top and bottom layers).

v9237-marking-center-back-circle

Finally, if it is difficult to tell the RS from the WS of our fabric, we can place a strip of masking tape on the WS of each cut out pattern piece. Or, we could alternatively mark an “X” with our marking pen in the hem allowance.

Now that everything has been cut out and marked, we’re going to leave the tissue pattern pinned to the fabric until we’re ready to sew!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about transferring pattern markings from tissue pattern to fabric!

THE END

Today, we’re one step closer to sitting down at our sewing machines!

We’ve covered a lot of ground today, so STOP! For tomorrow or the day after tomorrow is another day.

Next up: Step 4 ~ Let’s Sew Our Dress is up next…

Are you excited?! I hope so!

Until then,  remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn about the most lovely dress silhouettes and keep up with the all the dress projects on this site!

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