Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS DRESS - Pattern Layout and Cutting

Although these posts are supposed to be progress posts, I think they are turning into a tutorial.  So I will start at the beginning and try to take photos as I go along.  This is how I start all my fabric construction (including quilts!), so here goes.

Step 1:  Pull out all you pattern pieces and press them flat with a dry iron.

Step 2:  Assemble the fabrics, notions (zippers, thread) and any trimmings you will be using:
Oops, forgot the zipper but I have it!  The green velvet is the dress fabric and the spools of thread are sitting on the interfacing.  If you don't already know, choose a thread color that is one shade darker than the color (or most prominent color) of your main fabric.  I'll be using ivory thread for the collar.  Now, press everything!  (WARNING:  If you are using velvet or any other napped fabric, DO NOT press and, most especially, DO NOT press in any creases.  Velvet must be pressed with a needleboard as explained in the next post.)

Step 3:  Fold the fabric selvage to selvage and press a crease down the middle.  Remember quilters, garment construction is based on the lengthwise grain of the fabric not the width.  Although you can use the width for small pieces, lengthwise grain should be used for the large pieces.  Now, layout your pattern pieces on your fabric. You will be cutting two pieces at a time.  Pay attention to the instructions on the pattern pieces, the fronts are usually placed on the fold (hence the pressed crease).  I am using green velvet for the dress bodice, skirt & sleeves and cream satin for the dress facings, collar and dress ties.  Once all the pieces are in place, pin everything down within the seam allowance.  Remember, the standard seam allowance for garments is 5/8 of an inch.  Use as many straight pins as you need and are comfortable with, even if it means every half inch!

Sorry the ties are not shown.  I had to cut out all the collar pieces and then fold the fabric to cut the ties.

Step 4:   Now you can cut.  I usually cut everything by hand but have found a rotary cutter and ruler works well on the long straight cuts.  Since most patterns are multi-sized, make sure you cut on the line for the size garment you are making.  I am making a size 4 dress.  Pay attention to the notches on the pattern.  These are to assist in construction.  You may cut them in or out, it doesn't matter.  I usually only make small 1/4 inch cuts into the seam allowance at the notches now, but for this dress, I cut the notches out so you can see them.
This notch will help you set in the sleeve.

Here are the cut pieces:

The dress bodice back & front, the dress skirt back & front and the sleeve are cut from the green velvet. 
The collar, neck facings and ties are cut from the ivory satin.  Notice there are two collars?  One will be the facing or underside of the collar.  Facings should be interfaced to retain their shape.  I use fusible interfacing and here is a hint you will not find in any book or pattern.  Fuse your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric before you cut.  So much easier than cutting facings, then the interfacing and then fusing. 

Except when necessary, leave the patterns pinned to the pieces until you are ready to work with them!  The is especially important when you are working with a lot of pieces.  It is very easy to get confused!

Oh, this was exhausting, LOL!  I hope all the instructions are clear but if you have questions or need clarification, leave it in the comments and I will address them at the beginning of the next post.  I hope to start sewing today.  We shall see.

Love from Liri


  1. Looking good so far! The cutting out part of patterns rarely has me stumped, but when you're trying to sew a sleeve into an arm hole...look out! (Thank goodness I have little reason to sew garments!) It's going to be beautiful.

  2. Looking good. So far you make it look easy.

  3. Brings back memories of all the sewing I did in junior high and high school.

  4. Good luck with the sewing -- great tips as well.


  5. You should be a Home Economics teacher! More girls need to learn to sew like that. Those instructions are wonderful! ---"Love"