Monday, July 14, 2014

The Perfect Puzzle Sew-A-Long: Cutting Your Fabric

Continuing with our Sew-A-Long with Hailey Bug's Patterns The Perfect Puzzle Setwe all now have our fabric and pattern pieces prepped and ready and it's time to cut into that yummy fabric!

The first thing I did was choose the tee-shirt I was going to use on the front of this dress.  (If you click on the picture, it'll take you to where I got it.)

Once I have the tee all figured out, I like to pull a ton of different fabrics off my shelves and audition them with the tee.  That's just a fancy way of saying I pick a bunch of stuff I think might go with my shirt, and then I lay them all with the tee and edit it down until I like what I see.  It's not very technical, but it works for me!  Here's what I came up with in the end.  I realize it looks like a HOT MESS of a dress at this point, but it always does.  I've got dots, stripes, metallic hears, and there's even some lace in there!  The only rule to upcycling dresses is that there are no rules. Go crazy!

Once I figured out the tee and the fabrics, I took the tee trimmed it all down to just the graphic, leaving about a half inch on all sides for the seam allowance.  I always cut both sleeves off and then save them for later upcycling projects.  I clearly have a hoarding problem.  Once you have your graphic all squared up, it should look something like this:

Next, you'll want to cut some side panels in order to make your tee big enough to fit the bodice pattern.  Go ahead and fold your tee panel in half vertically and grab your bodice pattern piece. Place your tee panel on top of the bodice piece, lining up the folded edge of your tee on the fold edge of the pattern like this

Then, I measure the difference between my tee and the pattern piece at the largest part.  Here, it's a 3 inch difference.  I like to add an inch to that measurement (to account for seam allowances and maybe some mess ups).  So, in this case, I'll need panels that are 4 inches wide.  You'll want to make sure you pay attention to the direction of stretch of your fabric. You always want your knits to stretch around the body. Around the waist, around the arm, etc, so you want the stretch to go horizontally in this case. Once you get your side (and top and bottom if you need them) panels cut out you should have something like looks like this

With this pic, maybe my fabric choices might start to make more sense too.  At least, I hope they do!

Next, we'll cut the bodice top.  Grab your pattern piece and your bodice fabric.  Fold your fabric over, (again with the stretch going horizontally), and place your pattern piece lined up with the fold.

I like to live dangerously and use a good old Sharpie to trace my pattern pieces right on to the fabric. This method isn't for everyone, but it works for me and it's what I do every single time. The Sharpie line will be lost in the seam allowance because I sew all my knits with a serger.  If you don't have a serger, I'd recommend using a disappearing ink pen or a washable marker or something similar to that instead.

Then, remove your pattern piece and cut through the two layers of fabric and you've got your top bodice all cut out.

Now, for my back bodice and top I wanted to do one solid piece.  So, I took my bodice piece and measured 3/8 inch down from the top and drew a line with my pen.  (This is to subtract out the seam allowance because I won't be piecing the back of the dress.)

Then, I folded my fabric in half (with the stretch going horizontally), and then I lined up my top bodice piece with the line I drew on my bodice pattern.  I used some pattern weights to hold the whole thing in place while I traced it.

I traced the whole thing as one big pattern piece and then cut it out just like before.

I decided on lace sleeves for my dress this time around.  If you go the same route, make sure you specifically get a stretch lace.  It must have stretch in it or it won't work.  I got this particular piece of lace in the remnant bin at JoAnn for an extra 50% off.  Score!  Treat your lace is the same as your other knit fabrics.  Pay attention to the stretch so that it goes around the arm, fold it in half and line your sleeve pattern up with the fold, trace, and cut.

Don't forget to cut your sleeve pattern twice.

Now, the skirt.  For my skirt, I'm going to do one layer of a pieced flounce.  So, I need 8 fabric panels for the skirt.  I chose my fabrics and used the flounce pattern to trace and cut.

Once you get your flounces cut out, you should have a pile of pieces all cut out that looks something similar to mine!  YAHOO!!  One step closer.  Take these next two days to cut your fabric out and get organized.  I'll be back soon with some sewing!

Hailey Bug's Patterns Facebook Group
Craftsy: The Perfect Puzzle Set
Craftsy: The Perfect Puzzle Set Boy Add-on
Etsy: The Perfect Puzzle Set
Sugarplum Cuties Facebook Group

Sew-A-Long Blog Post Links:
Intro to the Pattern
Print, Assemble, Trace & Cut your Pattern
Cutting your Fabric
Constructing your Bodice
Attaching the top to your Bodice
Sleeve Construction


  1. Oh, also, I LOVE the metallic hearts.

  2. What type of fabric do you usually use? I can't find any good jersey knit at Joanns

    1. Lisa, my favorite knit to use is a mixture of 95% cotton and 5% lycra (or spandex). It has the best stretch and recovery and it's a thicker knit which makes it easier to sew. I do sew with all kinda of knits though, not just cotton/lycra. I generally do not find knits worth buying at JoAnn. Those knits can shrink up to 6-8 inches so you're paying for a yard but you're not getting a yard once all is said and done. I buy 98% of my fabric online. Some of my favorite places are:
      Purple Seamstress Fabric on FB (be careful here, some of these knits are very thin)

  3. Thanks! I ordered from Eurogirl last week! I'm going to LA Garmet District next weekend so hopefully I can find some good prints there. I never use to pay much attention to their knits except for the few pieces I got to make myself maxi's.


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