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How to Cut Fabric With A Directional Design For A Professional Look

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R.Kay Design: How to Cut Fabric With A Directional Design For A Professional Look

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to Cut Fabric With A Directional Design For A Professional Look

There are so many cute fabrics on the market today and many have fabulous large designs. I purchased some fabric last night to make a diaper bag. This bag will be a practice bag for me and if it turns out, I'll sell it on Etsy. I'm going to make a diaper bag for my daughter but she wants to pick out the fabric and she wants to be sure if it's a boy, we don't use any pink (we don't know if it's a girl or a boy yet). If this bag is really cute, she may make me wait until we find out...I'm using pink.

Anyway, back to cutting out a large print so the seams match and the print doesn't appear broken. Unfortunately I didn't realize that this would be a good post until after I cut out the fabric, but I purchased extra so I went back this morning and took some pics to reenact what I did.

First, I laid out the fabric unfolded. To do this correctly, I had to iron the fold out and make sure the selvages were flat. So first, iron your fabric. If you're making something that will be washed in the washing machine, it's important to pre-wash, especially cotton.

Since my specialty is purses and bags, I'm going to talk about making a bag, not something that will be worn.

Once you get all your pattern pieces in order, find the pieces that will be the front and the back. Start with the front piece and lay it on the fabric encompassing the part of the design that you want on the front. When doing this, try to get as close to the end of the fabric (where it was cut by the fabric store) and the selvage as possible. Otherwise you will waste more fabric than necessary.

For the pattern I'm working with, there is a pocket on the front with a flap. So I had to match where the flap meets the top of the bag and where the flap laps over the pocket, as well as where the back meets the top. I decided to not worry about the side pieces because both sides have a gathered pocket and matching would be almost impossible and probably frustrate me to no end. I also didn't worry about matching the bottom because even if I matched where it meets in the front, the direction on the print would change on the back and wouldn't match anyway.

So, I first laid out the flap on the fabric so I got the butterfly and a bird. That was my first piece and I matched everything to it. When cutting this first piece it is super important to make sure it is lined up with the grain of the fabric. If it's not perfectly lined up, you will never get a clean match on your other pieces.

To make sure your piece is lined up perfectly, measure from the grain line on the pattern to the edge of the selvage. Take that measurement several times along the grain line and make sure it's the same at the top of the line as the bottom.

I used my large clear ruler and made sure the grain line on the pattern was straight on one of the lines of the ruler and checked to be sure the edge of the fabric was straight as well. I adjusted everything until it was all lined-up. Then I pinned the fabric and cut it out.

Now find the repeat in the design and place your cut piece with the pattern still pinned and lay it on top of the fabric matching the print perfectly. 
First cut piece laid on top of fabric matching the design perfectly.
Adjust until perfectly matched to the fabric underneath.

Once it's lined up, take the pattern piece that will be sewed to it and place it on top of the already cut-out piece matching up the seam line. Most patterns will also have dots, match those dots. This will line up the pieces perfectly. Pin this next pattern piece in a couple of places and then you can remove the first piece. You are now ready to cut-out the next piece. See pics below.

For my diaper bag, I started with the pocket flap and matched the top piece (above). Then I used the pocket flap again to match where the flap hits the front of the pocket. It was a little more difficult to match this piece as the top of the flap and the top of the pocket are not on the same seam. So I had to use the front piece in conjunction with the flap to get the placement correct.
I'm altering the pattern somewhat to add the pocket. There was not a pocket pattern piece, instead a fold out pad was supposed to fold up under the flap. I didn't like it so I'm putting a pocket instead. At this point, if I had a pocket pattern piece, I would lay it on top of the front piece, then remove the other two pattern pieces without letting the pocket pattern piece move. Then I would pin and cut.

Since I didn't have a pattern piece, I cut using the front pattern piece and cut it short at the top where I thought the top of the pocket should stop. Here is a pic with the pocket front with the flap laying on top. When all is sewed together, the design on the pocket will flow to the front of the pocket.

Cool huh?


You'll then repeat for the back-side where it matches the top. I cut the back-side piece first and then cut the top to match. And since it was the back I considered fabric waste instead of the design.

Now, remember, in order to get the seams matched perfectly, you WILL need more fabric, how much is hard to say, at least one extra design repeat but I'd buy more, maybe two or three. If the design repeat is 12 inches, then buy at minimum, 1/3 yd extra, but to be safe at least 2/3 yd extra. If you sit down with the pattern before you purchase the fabric, you can figure it out more precisely but I still have a hard time with this and I'm good at math and geometry. You have to take into account how many seams need to be matched and what part of the fabric you want to show on the front.

Lastly, there may be other ways to do this but I have never been able to use any of them and get it right. I'd love to hear your technique if you can save fabric or time.

If you want to see larger versions of these pictures, just double click on the picture and it will open full-size on another page. Then click your back button to return to the post.

I'll post pics of the diaper bag when I'm done. I'm considering adding video to this site so I'd love for you to let me know if you'd like me to do a tutorial for this pattern on video. It will be a big job figuring out how to do video but I'm up for it. Please, let me know if something like this would benefit you - also, I'd love to know if you'd pay for access to videos like this and how much you'd be willing to pay - I'm still trying to figure out how to make a living sewing!

Until later ~

Reba

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