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How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Cutting the Fabric

As I mentioned above, some pieces are cut on doubled fabric and others are cut from a single layer (the photo shows an example). Sort your pieces accordingly and place them into separate piles (I typically start with the patterns that need to be cut on folded fabric first). Place your folded fabric on your cutting surface and make sure that your selvages match up along the length of the fabric (don't let any of your fabric hang off the table because this can cause the fabric to become distorted and put tension on the fabric while you are cutting). If your folded edge opposite the selvages does not lie flat, you need to adjust the alignment of the selvages. Don't rely on the cut edge being straight. Slide the top layer of fabric to the left or right slightly, keeping the selvages even, until the folded edge straightens out and doesn't twist. This process aligns the grain along the fold. Aligning the grain is extremely important in the construction of your garment so that it will hang straight when it is completed.
pattern arrangement



Begin arranging your pieces according to the diagram. Each pattern piece will be marked with an arrow indicating how it must be placed in relation to the lengthwise grain of the fabric. That arrow MUST be placed parallel to the selvage edge. To do this accurately, always measure the distance between the arrow and the selvage at both ends of the arrow to ensure that it is truly parallel to the selvage. Place all of your pattern pieces loosely on the fabric to make sure that they will all fit before pinning in place. Make adjustments as needed. If your table isn't long enough to accomodate the entire garment, gently roll up the fabric on one end up as you place the pattern pieces to allow room for additional pieces.

When looking at the pattern layout, you will notice that there are some pattern pieces are shown with diagonal lines on them. This indicates that the pattern should be placed printed side down. This reverses the pattern piece so that you cut a mirror image, typically for cutting right or left versions of pieces.

If your fabric has a directional print (a vertical pattern), pay close attention to the direction of the pattern pieces as you arrange them so that all of the pieces are facing the right way.

Once you are sure that all the pattern pieces will fit and you have a good idea of how they should be arranged, go back and pin or weight them in place, double-checking the grain alignments. Place your pins perpendicular to the cutting line, making sure that the entire pin is inside the pattern. This makes it less likely that you will poke yourself on a pin as you are cutting around the patterns. You don't want your project drawing blood this soon!

When you have patterns where some pieces are cut on doubled fabric and others are cut from a single layer, you will have to pin and cut the pattern pieces in two sessions, first cutting those from the folded fabric. Then, you will open up the fabric and cut those that need to be cut from the single layer.

After all the pieces are pinned in place, you are almost ready to cut your fabric! Before you start cutting, though, stand back and take a quick look at the overall arrangement of your pattern pieces and make sure everything seems right and is to your liking. Double-check the pattern alignments to make sure the designs are all running the right way. Decide how you are going to handle the notches. It is a matter of personal preference; some cut them following the pattern so that they stick out from the edge, others cut the notch into the seam allowance. I prefer to just cut a straight slit from the pattern edge to the point of the notch.

Now, take a deep breath and cut cutting out your pieces! A rotary cutter can speed up this process and works wonderfully for cutting curves like the armhole that can be a pain to cut with scissors. Just make sure that your mat is underneath where you intend to cut. Place your pieces safely out of the way as you finish cutting them. When you have finished cutting them all out, you can work on marking any dots, darts or other important marks using the marking method of your choice.

Happy cutting!

How to Sew a Men's Shirt Lesson Index

How to Sew a Men's Shirt - First Steps
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Preparing the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Reading the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Cutting the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Matching the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Pocket
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Yoke
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing Shoulder Seams
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Collar
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - the Collar Stand
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Sleeves

Here are some tools to help you with pattern cutting and marking!


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This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Tamara Bostwick for details.



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