Thursday, June 16, 2011

Project Frock coat 1 - plus some cutting out tips.

My blog reading has expanded recently into sites devoted to vintage or modern sewing, and it is fantastic to see so many young women taking up sewing. It makes my heart happy! I am also aware that some of the techniques I take for granted would be really useful to other sewists, so I decided to make a new coat, and blog the process, with as many top tips as I can muster :)
The coat is a frock style, mid calf, and I can't show you a picture or sketch as I drafted the pattern. But I am wearing a version of it in the previous post about Steampunking it. This one will have a different collar.
My fabrics - a glorious asphalt brown stretch velveteen and a remnant of striped acetate/viscose mix lining fabric that I intend to use as trims and also to bind the seams as this pattern is unlined. They look so yummy together!!
OK, so this evening, I cut out the coat, taking the odd moment to catch Project Runway. How DO they do it? I would just want to lie down under the cutting table!
I place my first pattern pieces on the fabric which is folded along its length and laid out on my kitchen counter. It is a great cutting table! The rest is pooling on the floor at the other end. The reason there is so much room at the end is that I am adding 6" to each length. I want a longer coat this time. I have pinned the pieces with just a few pins, because at this stage I am just arranging my layout.
This next bit is the key to success for anyone who is pressed for room. Just slide the fabric off the end of the counter, pattern pieces and all:
Then you can position and lightly pin the next pieces, and keep repeating until you're done. No guess work needed! :) And it really works better to lightly pin at this stage, just make sure your grain lines are correct. Note that I am cutting my gored pieces all the same way, as velveteen has a nap. It is less economical but absolutely necessary; velvets, cords and velveteens cannot be cut both ways. I cut these fabrics so the pile is smooth when I stroke from top to bottom of the garment, but I notice some manufacturers do it the other way.
So once I have all my pieces positioned and accounted for, I slide the fabric back the OTHER way, and start cutting the pieces out.
Yup, them is forks. they make fantastic pattern weights as their shape presses gently but firmly down; spoons are quite good too. I use them to hold the piece down before pinning a little more generously and cutting out. This pattern has no seam allowance (which I luckily wrote on all the pieces last time, sometimes I forget!) so am adding 1/2" all around.
As I cut the pieces out, I then take all the pins out but I keep the pattern piece with the cut out piece, so as to keep track of any marking etc that I need to do later. This saves on pins, which I am very short of as The Dreamstress was using mine to pin pleats on Tuesday night and she hasn't returned them yet! (she will, she is very honest!) :)
Other cutting out tips:
  1. Before pinning, measure from the selvage or folded edge to the the grainline arrow, and make sure it is parallel. Pin this first. If you catch just a small amount with the first pin, you can move the piece around to line it up. Then you can smooth the pattern piece out from that point and pin down. If anyone wants me to go into more detail on this, let me know and I'll do a separate tutorial. It is SUCH a sensible way to position pattern pieces! :) Of course, this pattern has no grain lines ahem. I do it by eye. But I have 35 years experience so I'm allowed to cheat, sometimes. And I rarely do.
  2. I always leave a small hem of tissue around the outside of a commercial pattern the first time I use it, and cut through the tissue and the fabric along the cutting line. It is easier to get an accurate cut that way. Assuming one doesn't need to adjust the bleeding pattern of course!
And that's it for tonight. More next time!


  1. Very, very cool. I'll be watching this develop. I figure cutting gores going the same way doesn't really waste much more fabric than it saves, you can usually position gores so closely...

  2. That's true, Steph. If the pattern is wider at the hem so you can only get one piece in a width of fabric, it is ahassle as usually the next one would be turned up the other way and slotted into the gap, so to speak, but these panels are fairly slim. You would have had the same thing with your scrummy cranberry jumper I guess.