Marianne Dress Sew-Along: Cutting Your Fabric

 marianne dress

Today in the Marianne Dress Sew-Along we are going to cut our fabric. Yay! Things are getting real today! If you've never cut knit fabric before, it can be intimidating because it's stretchy and can be hard to line up on grain. Below are some tips and I will walk you through all the steps for both views. Here we go!

First off, if you haven't already done so, you absolutely positively without any question MUST pre-wash your fabric. Was that blunt enough? Seriously, stop now and go wash your fabric if you haven't. Okay, moving on! 

Next you will need to decide which elements of the pattern you want to make. All of the pieces are mix and match, so make sure you have enough fabric for each thing you're cutting. You will also need your interfacing if you are working with the collar. First I'll talk about tips for both views, then below there are additional notes on each specific view. 

Cutting for Both Views

Just like with any other fabric, you want to lay your fabric out on your cutting table. It's important with knit that it doesn't hang off your cutting table. A woven fabric will simply slide off the table if it's hanging off too much, but a knit will stretch and pull, making the threads stretch. If you cut the pieces with the fabric stretched, the end result will be too small. You can see on my table in the photo above that the excess fabric is gathered up next to the edge of the table. Smooth out your fabric until it lays nice and flat. 

If you are working with a stripe, I would suggest either cutting in a single layer, or folding and pinning the stripes together prior to cutting the fabric. Above you can see I'm lining up the stripes, then pinning at each stripe to keep it in place. 

When working with stripes, how do you get them to line up on the side seams? Easy! All you need to do is line up the bottom of the armscye at the top or bottom of a stripe. Above, the bottom of the armscye is at the bottom of the white stripe (this is the lower half of the dress for View B but the same spot exists on the dress front and back for View A). 

When you cut out the other side of the dress (front or back depending on which you cut first), simply line up the bottom of the armscye at the same spot, and voila! They will line up perfectly. 

Additionally, for View B, I like to make sure the top edge where the lower half of the dress joins the yoke is lined up exactly on one line.

Many people prefer to cut knits with pattern weights and a rotary cutter, and I am no exception. I prefer to lift and touch my knit fabric as little as possible once I have it all smooth on the cutting table, and I find that cutting with a rotary cutter can be more accurate when cutting knits. This is entirely up to you and what you're comfortable with, so know that pins (ball-point for knits) and scissors are totally fine too!

This pattern, and most knit patterns, has a 3/8" seam allowance, which is smaller than many are used to if you've only sewn with woven fabrics, which usually has a 5/8" seam allowance. Because of that, be extra careful when cutting your notches, as there is a smaller area for the notches. Just be sure to cut small. Remember that they are simply there for your reference, so as long as you can see them, they are big enough. 

In addition to the notches, I also like to make a tiny snip at the center front mark on the neck binding so I can find that later. I don't snip the center of the actual neckline, rather I will mark that later with a pin. This is just personal preference, but in case you'd like to follow the way I actually do it, this is it!

Cutting View A

For view A, you will need one of the dress back pieces, one of the dress front pieces, two collar pieces, one neck binding piece, and one collar interfacing piece. All but the binding are cut on the fold. Reference the cutting layout in the instructions to see how you should lay your pieces out based on the width of your fabric and your chosen size. 

If you would like to add the sleeves from View B to your View A dress, remember that you will need the notches on the sleeve hem to line up the sleeves later when you go to sew them on. Simply transfer the notch markings from the yoke front and back pieces of View B to the dress front and back pieces of View A. 

Cutting View B

For View B, you will need the yoke front and back, neck binding, and cuffs cut in one fabric. Then the dress front and back are cut from a contrasting fabric. Of course, you can mix and match however you like, but if you are following the pattern as written, this is the plan. 

That's it for today! Once you have all your pieces cut and notched, all can be set aside until we get to sewing! Tomorrow we will make up the collar for View A, so if you're not doing that part, you get the day off!