Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sewing Tips Series #1 - DIY Markers!

No, not a marker for drawing, a marker for sewing.

"What is a marker?" you ask? Simple: it's a cutting guide used by professionals in the fashion industry to plan the layout of their pattern pieces before they cut to avoid wasting fabric. I found this is much simpler and saves time, as opposed to going in blindly and finding out too late that you're out of fabric. This is especially helpful when you have a very limited amount of fabric like I did in my Medieval Dress, where I had to use remnants which I couldn't buy more of. Here you go!

  1. After blocking, measure the width and length of your fabric.

  2. Open a paint document or any other sort of simple drawing program. Things like Photoshop can work, but might be too complicated a program for this task.

  3. Using the scale of your choice (for example: 1 pixel = 1 inch), create a scale diagram of your fabric. Remember to include important information such as border width, etc.

  4. Take each individual pattern piece and take important measurements such as length, width, and any others you might need, depending on each pattern piece. For instance, the sleeve pattern below required four measurements: length, width at wrist, width at elbow, and width at bicep. As long as you can create a rough block of the pattern's shape on your diagram, what measurements you choose aren't important.

  5. Draw each pattern piece into the fabric diagram - don't forget, some pieces might need to be cut multiple times or be cut on the fold. Be sure you allow for these and make sure to mirror anything cut on a fold.

  6. Once you've toyed around with different layouts and you've found one that suits you, you can start cutting. Since your diagram is to scale, you can accurately place your pattern pieces on the actual fabric by measuring the depths of folds or the distance of one piece from the selvage.

Here is the marker I made for the Medieval Dress I created. Each blue square equals one inch.

There you have it! Now you, too can create your very own markers for all your future sewing projects. This will eliminate waste and prevent mistakes in cutting that are too late to fix. This concept can also be applied to finding out how much fabric you'll need before you go shopping. For this you simply need to create two templates: one measuring 42" wide, the other 60". Place your pattern pieces as you would normally, and when you're done you can count how many yards you'll need!

Hope this helps!

Nostalgically Yours

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