How to Cut Fabric for Sewing


Preparing and cutting your fabric properly before you sew takes care and attention and may seem to be one of the most tedious parts of your sewing project. Taking the time to cut your fabric properly, however, lays the proper foundation for your entire project and can make the difference between a professional-looking and homemade-looking finished piece. Paying careful attention to this step saves much frustration later on and makes the finished product well worth the effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Press cloth
  • Pins
  • Chalk pencil
  • Scissors
  • Wash and dry your fabric according to the manufacturer's directions. If it is a dry clean--only fabric, have your dry cleaner dry clean and steam it before use. This preshrinks your fabric so your final project won't be smaller than you intended.

  • Iron your fabric according to the manufacturer's directions. For cotton and cotton-blend fabrics, this usually means using a high steam setting. For delicate fabrics, fabrics with nap or specialty fabrics, this usually means ironing on the wrong side of the fabric on a low setting with a press cloth between the fabric and the iron.

  • Position your fabric so the grain of the fabric is straight. Woven fabrics are constructed with threads running both horizontally and vertically, and for your project to hang properly when completed, the threads need to be straight when you cut out your pattern. Lay your fabric wrong-side-up on a hard surface, completely unfolded, and adjust the fabric until both the horizontal and vertical threads lay straight.

  • Find your selvage edge. The selvage edge of the fabric runs along the lengthwise edges of both sides of the fabric and can be identified by its woven edges. It often has the manufacturer's information printed on it as well. Fold the fabric in half carefully so that the selvage edges meet and the grain of the fabric stays straight. Readjust if necessary.

  • Lay out your pattern pieces according to the suggested layout on the pattern. If necessary, iron each pattern piece on your iron's lowest setting to remove wrinkles and creases. Pin each pattern piece in place. Transfer all your pattern markings, such as darts and zipper markings, to your fabric using a chalk pencil.

  • Cut out each pattern piece, taking great care to not twist or force the fabric as you cut. Follow the line of each pattern piece exactly and use a sharp pair of scissors. Set aside each pattern piece when you are finished cutting until all the pattern pieces are cut out.

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