How to Lay Out and Cut Your Pattern

layout front

Pattern layout has become a little more do-it-yourself since the advent of PDF patterns.  When I was learning to sew and teaching my 4-H’ers how to sew we used patterns from the Big 4. Opening your pattern envelope, you would find several double sided pages of instructions and a cutting layout page.

layout page

These layouts were designed for you to lay out all of your pattern pieces without needing to refold your fabric.  Many of us learned early on, this could waste a significant amount of fabric.  Fabric is not a small investment.  A large portion of PDF designers have stopped including a cutting layout because we have found sewers in general do not use them.  Of course there are exceptions to this.  Many of the PDF users are self taught sewers less likely to be trained in using cutting layouts.

Today, on sew-along day one, we are going to show you how to layout your Cecilia Tee to utilize all of your fabric. Also how to be careful that your grain and stretch are going the right direction.  This information should help with all of your fabric cutting!

When sewing with knits it is important to have your stretch going around the body.  It is sometimes easy to get disoriented when folding and refolding your fabric.  I have certainly done it and all of a sudden to get one piece cut wrong and now you are in trouble.  Oopps!

I am  using a nice jersey knit with 50% stretch for this example.  Also it is printed on the right side, so there is no confusion as to the right and wrong sides.  Some knits are the same on the right and the wrong side so be sure to mark your right side.  Melly from Melly Sews has a great post on identifying different kinds of knits. Be sure to read this if you are at all confused.

At OUSM Designs we try to give you accurate yardage requirements based on the fold and refold method of cutting. For my size 4 the fabric requirement is 3/4 yard main fabric and 1/8 yard finishing fabric.  Finishing fabric is the neckband and sleeve band.full fabric

This piece of knit jersey is 57″ wide.  I have it opened to its full width.  With the stretch going width wise (around the body as marked on your pattern) fold over as much as you are going to need for your front.

TIPS AND TRICKS:  I start out by eyeballing and then measure so that my piece is folded the same top, middle and bottom.  This will ensure a straight grain.  I fold my fabric wrong sides together.  That is personal preference.  Just make sure that you are consistent. You want to make sure you have all your wrinkles smoothed out.fabric measureWe recommend pinning well, since knits can be very slippery.  Remember to make sure your pattern piece is not in the selvedge.  There is not as much stretch and this may distort your garment.  Even in woven fabrics, it is not advised to use selvedges in your garment.  Cut your front. layout front Refold and repeat this process for your back.  Make your last fold and cut 2 sleeves.layout sleeve

You can see there is plenty of fabric left so if you wanted you could cut your sleeve and neck bands from the left layout

TIPS AND TRICKS:  If your pattern calls for 2 of your piece and they need to be mirror images, you can fold your fabric and cut them both at the same time.  This will give you one left and one right and since you are cutting them at the same time, there is less room for error.  This is the way we cut all of our mirror image pieces.  This will ensure that you don’t get 2 right or 2 left pant legs or fronts.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for tips on gathering and setting your sleeve.

Happy Sewing,


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Sew Along

Monday- Layout and Cut your fabric

Tuesday- How to Gather your sleeve properly

Wednesday-How to Sew perfectly matched seams

Thursday- How to Sew a Neckband

Friday- How to Hem Knits

Sew a Cecilia Dress! Find the Dress tutorial here.



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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Pam @Threading My Way June 8, 2015, 8:43 am

    I remember a sewing teacher telling me I didn’t have enough fabric for a garment I was making. She was following the layout chart from the pattern. Mum had bought the fabric for me and had assured me there’d be enough. I took it home and Mum showed me how to cut it out. There was plenty of fabric.
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