Today in the Lottie Dress & Shirt Pattern Sewalong, we're finally getting to the real deal! This is the start of our finished version, and we will begin cutting and transferring markings from the pattern to our final fabric. This is an easy but important day, so be sure to take your time with this step. My students often would ask me how to get professional looking garments, and I would always remind them that it all begins in the cutting, as poorly cut fabric will not magically become beautiful seams. Once it's cut, it's cut. So don't rush it and enjoy the process!
You will find in the layout portion of the pattern instructions a series of guides, based on the fabric's width and your chosen size. For the Lottie, the dress or shirt front and back are both placed on the fold, so there isn't a lot of variation in the cutting from chart to chart, but there are some key things to consider during this process. Some of my cutting tips are below:
- Before cutting, always pre-treat your fabric in the manner best suited for the fabric, and in relation to how you want to care for it afterwards. If you are in question as to the care and content of your chosen fabric, contact the store that you purchased it from.
- After pre-treating the fabric, you will need to refold the center fold that was lost in the washing process. Remember that your cut ends will likely not line up anymore. What's key is that the threads woven from selvage to selvage are straight, or your fabric will be off-grain from the start. Hold your fabric up and check to see it's hanging straight, when folded. Then you know it's on grain.
- When the pattern piece is to be placed on the fold, always pin that side first, making sure it is right on the fold and not hanging over or in a smidge. If you see extra fabric, you're actually adding double that to the center front or center back, because of the fold. And same goes if you hang the pattern piece over, you are reducing the pattern by double that amount. So try to get it on the money.
- For the pieces not placed on the fold of the fabric, always be sure to use a 12-14" ruler to put the "grainline" on the pattern on-grain, so it is perfectly parallel with the selvage edge. If the pattern piece is to be cut on the bias, the same rule applies. The "grainline" written on the pattern piece should be parallel to the selvage, but the pattern piece itself will be angled at 45-degrees so it is cut on the bias of the fabric.
- Cutting can be done with pattern weights and a rotary cutter, or pins and scissors. The bust dart and underarm curve are really hard to do accurately with a 45mm rotary cutter, so I would suggest at a minimum cutting those areas with your scissors.
- And remember, the three views: A, B, & C are merely suggestions. Mix and match all the elements however you like to create the Lottie of your dreams!
If you plan to use a stripe, plaid, or gingham print, the ideal spot to line up the print is at the hem, working your way up from that starting point. The reason is that if you start at the underarm seam, the bust dart will alter that area, and everything from that point down will be off. So instead, match everything up to the bust dart, and only that area will be off.
In addition, if you are planing to use a stripe, plaid, or gingham print, I highly suggest cutting in one layer, instead of on the fold. To do this, simply place the pattern piece on the fabric unfolded and pin in place. Use a marking tool to outline the pattern piece very carefully, making a mark where the center fold will be, without actually marking that entire line. Unpin the pattern piece, flip it over, line it up, and pin it in place. Cut it out and continue cutting the area you traced for a complete pattern piece. Easy and so worth it when your side seams line up!
The pocket has three options for placement: straight grain, cross grain, or on the bias. Above you can see how the pocket looks when placed on the straight or cross grain on gingham fabric. Super cute! However, if your dress is made in a gingham, stripe, or plaid, it's a perfect opportunity to use the bias option, and you can cut the pockets as illustrated below, so they will be at a contrasting angle to the rest of the dress.
Once you've cut everything out, it's time to transfer the markings from the pattern pieces to the cut pieces of fabric. All those marks are there to tell us something, so we need all that information once we remove the pattern piece so we can properly sew and line up all the pieces.
Some markings should be actually marked by using a water soluble marking tool, and some should be clipped with your scissors. Below are my suggestions on each mark and how I treat them.
Cut with Scissors:
- All triangle notches (Note that you will only cut the notches at the short sleeve hem if you are adding the 3/4-length sleeve add on. Otherwise you should not cut those!)
- I make a very small snip on the sides of the pocket to indicate where the fold line is.
- I also make a very small snip at the center front and center back of the neckline to tell me where the center is for when I attach the neck bias binding.
Mark with Marker:
- Pocket placement on the right side of the dress or shirt.
- The stopping point on the side seam for the vent on the shirt or maxi length. This should be marked on the wrong side of the fabric, since right sides will the facing each other during the sewing process.
- Bust darts on the wrong side of the dress or shirt front.
- If I have a fabric that the "right" and "wrong" side are hard to discern, I place a small X on the wrong side of the fabric, within the seam allowance of each piece. (I often sew in the evening, and under low light, some fabrics are very tricky to tell which side is which!)
And that's it for today! In the next post we'll actually start sewing, so I hope you're ready to go! See you then!