Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Quick and easy fabric cutting technique

My sister recently taught me a different way to cut fabric from patterns. This has literally saved me hours of cutting. I work slowly anyway, so this is a major piece of time we're talking about.

This is in no way a new technique, just new-to-me. (Please withhold the collective "duh's" while reading this.) I wanted to post this to help any other newbies out there that want to save time while cutting.

I had always used the tissue paper and pin technique for cutting out patterns. When I designed my own patterns (on recycled tissue paper, no less) they always ended up looking so sad and being difficult to work with, due to the fragile nature of the paper.

This is ridiculous!

The technique I learned uses a sturdy pattern, such as cardstock or a manila office file and a sharpie. To make your own patterns, you'll need the following:
  • your original pattern
  • a file folder or cardstock
  • sharpie marker
  • scissors to cut out your pattern
  • rotary cutter (you can use the scissors if you like, but the rotary cutter is super-easy)
  • rotary cutting mat
  • your pre-washed and pressed fabric

You will definitely need to press your fabric for this technique. No cheating or being lazy on this!

Next, trace your original pattern onto the cardstock or file folder. It's helpful to include any special instructions (like how many pieces to cut, fold lines, grain lines, etc.) onto the new pattern piece. Be sure to label it! Then, cut it out.

(Please notice my brand new, yet ornately decorated cutting mat. Thank you, Monkey 7.)
Next, place your pattern piece on the fabric, following any special instructions required for that piece.
Now you are going to trace the pattern directly onto the fabric using a sharpie. You can either hold the pattern with your hand, which is fine for smaller pieces such as these, or you can use pattern weights (like these, which are little artworks themselves, and only $5!!) I'm sure it's fine to weight the pattern with anything, really, as long as it holds the pattern still. Trace quickly and lightly -- no slow, heavy, perfect tracing is necessary.

Next, carefully cut out your pattern with the rotary cutter. You can use scissors, but I would worry about the piece shifting, especially if you're cutting through more than one thickness of fabric. But then again, I haven't tried that, so it may work fine.

And there you have it! Super-easy, and very quick, too.

And now, for my new fabric....
I recently discovered fabricsgalore's neat shop! She has lots of adorable japanese prints, which I am a total sucker for. And her fabric is very reasonably priced. And she's having a summer sale. And she's a very sweet person to work with. This is what I ordered:
From the white and blue car fabric, I can just see a little romper or some pajama pants for my little boy Monkeys, can't you? And I have some back-to-school pencil pouches planned for those adorable apples! The Home Sweet Home fabric is just so darn cute, but I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it yet.
As for freebies, fabricsgalore sent a ton! Here are just a few:

The little pink daschund fabric is a whole 1/4 yard!
I'm not going to have a tote to post today. I will be making one, just not during daylight (photo-taking) hours.... so I'll still technically have a tote done today! I am going to clean my house now. It has been a little neglected these last couple of days, and needs some major tidying. Tomorrow, I'll be posting a cool new item that I just received in a swap! See you then....


  1. Nice tutorial! I love your new fabric too...very colorful!

  2. I actually use just about the same technique with my patterns! Only after a while I switched to a disappearing ink fabric pen (a water soluble pen works great too). I liked them because the marks aren't permanent and sometimes I make mistakes and now it's no biggie. I got my pen from Joann's and I love it! Adorable fabric!

  3. Oh! I had forgotten about the disappearing ink pens. I used to have one, and used it up. I really need to get another! Thanks for reminding me.

  4. OK, so there was no DUH from me! I've been sewing for ever and have never seen this technique! Thanks.

  5. i can't imagine ever going back to tracing paper! i've been using posterboard for a while now - in fact, it's time to retrace a few pieces as the edges are getting fuzzy from use. i've never quite gotten good at using a rotary cutter though (& they're super simple, i'm such a dork!) so i just stick with my trusty scissors.

    thanks for the heads up on a great etsy fabric shop!

  6. woahhh . . . . rotary cutter!!! NEAT!!! and I like monkey 7's touch w/ the mat :) I use fedex envelopes to make my purse patterns, but then I cut w/ regular scissors. your method looks SO MUCH EASIER . . . maybe i'll take the fact that i LOST my good sewing scissors in the move as an excuse to buy a rotary setup :)


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