How to cut out and mark pattern pieces on fabric

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How to cut out and mark pattern pieces on fabric
Accuracy is the key to a successful sewing project. (serezniy/iStock/Getty Images)

Accuracy when cutting your sewing pattern and then transferring the construction symbols -- or marks -- on to the fabric is crucial. These are the final steps taken before you begin to sew your garment.

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Things you need

  • Dressmaker's carbon
  • Pattern weights
  • Sewing patterns
  • Fabric chalks
  • Fabric pencils
  • Fabric-marking pens
  • Fabrics
  • Straight pins
  • Rulers
  • Tracing wheels

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    Pinning and cutting

  1. 1

    Pin sewing pattern pieces to the fabric.

  2. 2

    Use dressmaker's shears to cut fabric along the designated cutting line.

  3. 3

    Cut all notches -- diamond-shaped symbols that appear along the cutting line -- outwards from the cutting line. These notches will be used to match pattern pieces later on. Treat double and triple notches as one and cut them together with a continuous edge.

  4. 4

    Leave the pins intact until all markings have been transferred from the sewing pattern pieces to the fabric.

  5. 5

    Transfer all the marks to your fabric. These marks include pockets, pleats, circles, darts and tucks. Mark a single dot with a small cross. Mark lining fabric only if you have chosen to pin and cut both lining and fashion fabrics as one.

    Transfer pattern marks

  1. 1

    Transfer marks using pins and a chalk fabric pencil or marking pen.

  2. 2

    Support the fabric with one hand, and insert pins through all layers of fabric along the outline of the pattern mark.

  3. 3

    Carefully turn the pattern piece over and use a ruler and marking pencil or pen to trace along the outline made by the pins.

  4. 4

    Turn the pattern piece over so that the tissue side is facing up.

  5. 5

    Unpin the pattern and carefully pull the pattern piece over the heads of the marking pins.

  6. 6

    Once again, follow the outline made by the marking pins to trace the pattern mark on to your fabric.

    Carbon paper method

  1. 1

    Use dressmaker's carbon, or tracing paper, and a tracing wheel as an alternative method of transferring pattern marks to fabric.

  2. 2

    Mark two layers of fabric by cutting a strip of carbon paper about 10 by 25 cm (4 by 10 inches) and folding it in half.

  3. 3

    Place the coated sides together.

  4. 4

    Slide the bottom half of the paper under the fabric and the top half between the fabric and the pattern.

  5. 5

    Trace along the marking lines with a tracing wheel.

Tips and warnings

  • Any sharpened pair of scissors will do, although the bent handles of dressmaker shears allow fabric to lie flat while you are cutting.
  • Cut fabric with long, even strokes for a smoother cutting line.
  • If your pattern calls for interfacing or lining, save time by pinning and cutting these items at the same time as your fabric.
  • If you use a marking pen, test on a piece of scrap fabric to ensure that any marks made with it can be washed out.
  • Use carbon paper only if fabric is opaque, as the marks will not wash out. Always mark on the wrong side of the fabric.

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