This guide to patterned fabrics cutting is from Sewing for Fashion Designers by Anette Fischer, published by Laurence King. This book is a brilliant reference guide not just for fashion designers but also for home stitchers covering sewing tools, materials, construction techniques, hems and seams. Below we’ve shared some pictures of inside the book.
Working with Different Patterned Fabrics
When working with patterned fabrics always buy extra fabric to match the design.
Match the pressing requirements, marking technique, equipment, seam finish and fastening options to the fabric weight, texture and garment design.
Place the pattern on the fabric and mark the position of the stripes into the pattern.
The placement of the check pattern should be carefully considered for a professional-looking garment. Select a check in a suitable scale for your garment design. Allow plenty of time to prep and cut check materials.
• Examine a printed check fabric carefully to make sure it is printed on grain – avoid those printed off grain.
• To see if the check is regular, fold the fabric in half and line up the dominant stripe. Turn back the top corner at a right angle. If stripes match across the diagonal fold in both colour and width the check is regular. If the design does not match, the checks are irregular.
• Plan the layout before buying the fabric.
• Analyse the check to identify dominant stripes or squares and consider where they will be positioned on the garment.
• You will have to make some compromises; not every seam can be matched. Try and match visual focal points on garments, such as centre front and back, at side seams and the front part of set-in sleeves. Match the back of the collar to the centre back.
• Either match the check across pockets, collar, flaps, yokes, cuffs and facings, or cut in the opposite direction or bias. Sometimes the size of these small pieces must be slightly altered to fit the check design, or consider cutting them in a plain contrast fabric.
• Avoid placing dominant stripes at point you do not want to draw attention to, such as at the hip or bust line
• Consider the check pattern on trousers with pleats or crease lines. Carefully place any dominant stripes around the front and back crotch.
• Take extra care on a two-piece outfit: use the same check pattern and match at waist and hip, and at centre front and back, of both garments to make sure the check will not be broken where the garments meet.
• Finish hemline and sleeve edges with the dominant check or stripe.
• Ideally, cut check materials as a oneway layout in a single layer. Duplicate pattern pieces that must be cut twice.
• If cutting out as a double layer, fold the fabric in half and line up at the selvedge. Pin layers together along a stripe or bar so they match exactly in both layers. Place pins every 5–10cm (2–37⁄8in) horizontally and vertically so pieces such as sleeves will look identical on either side of the garment.
The pattern piece marked with the stripe positions can then be matched to adjoining pattern pieces on the seam line.
• Mark the check pattern onto adjoining pattern pieces and match up on the seam line, not the cutting line.
• Place adjoining pattern pieces next to each other.
• Put all your effort into matching stripes – the seams and centre lines must match.
• Examine a printed stripe pattern carefully; avoid any printed off grain.
• To check if the stripe is regular fold the fabric in half, lining up the dominant stripe. Turn back the top corner at a right angle. If stripes match across the diagonal fold in both colour and width the pattern is regular. If not, the stripes are irregular.
• Plan the layout before buying fabric.
• Establish the stripe direction for each pattern piece and mark as a grain line. Stripes can be used horizontally, vertically or diagonally; make sure the grain direction works with the garment area and fabric structure. Mixing directions in one garment can look interesting.
• Mark the stripes onto adjoining pattern pieces at seam line, not cutting line.
• Match visual focal points on the garment: at centre front and back, at side seams and the front part of set-in sleeves. The stripes might not match on shoulder seam, back sleeve and dart.
• If stripes run horizontally, finish the hemline and sleeve edges with the dominant stripe.
• Either match stripes across pockets, collar, flaps, yokes, cuffs and facings, or cut in the opposite direction or bias. Sometimes the size of these small pieces must be slightly altered to fit the stripes, or consider cutting them in a plain contrast fabric.
• For a two-piece, make sure stripes will match where the garments meet.
• When using stripes vertically, place a dominant stripe in centre front and back and/or at any other focal points on garment sections.
• Align buttonholes with the stripe direction and match the colour of the buttonhole to the colour of the stripe.
• For an irregular stripe design decide whether the stripes will repeat around the garment in one direction or to the right and left of centre front and back. For a mirror image result, you need a centre front and back seam or opening.
• Use a one-way layout and cut as a single layer. If the print does not show on the wrong side, place pattern pieces on the right side to match the stripes.
• Avoid placing dominant stripes on the bust, waist or hipline.
• If cutting out as a double layer, fold the fabric in half and line up at the selvedge. Pin layers together along stripe lines so stripes in both layers match exactly. Place pins every 5–10cm (2–37⁄8in) horizontally and vertically so pieces such as sleeves will look identical on both sides.
The key point here is to consider pattern repeats when placing pattern pieces. Select a pattern size that is suitable for your garment design.
• For large-scale fabric patterns select a simple garment design with minimum seams, darts and fussy details.
• When purchasing a small-scale pattern unroll the fabric and look at a couple of metres, not just a small sample.
• Consider the placement of dominating motifs on large-scale patterns. Avoid placing large motifs onto the bust area.
• Consider mixing small-scale patterns with other fabrics, patterned or plain. Some garment designs also work with collar, cuffs, waistband, pockets and flaps or yokes in a contrast fabric.
• For large motifs use a one-way layout and cut as a single layer.
• Some patterned fabrics have no dominant design to match, so pattern pieces can be placed lengthwise and crosswise on a double layer, right side together.
• Small-scale patterns with a direction must be cut as a one-way layout on a double or single layer.
Border pattern design
Border designs can be incorporated into the hemline, waistline, collar, patch pockets, yoke and cuffs. Try different options, such as placing the border at the top of a garment instead of the hemline.
• Let the border inspire your design.
• Simple shapes work best to showcase the fabric.
• Avoid A-line designs and circular hems.
• Plan the layout before buying fabric.
• The length of a garment might be restricted by the fabric width if the border pattern is used on the hemline. To avoid this use patterns with seams towards the top, such as at the yoke or under-bust, to lengthen the garment.
• Delete the hem allowance if using a finished edge border as the hem.
• Border fabric designs are cut on the cross grain in a one-way layout, single layer and right side up.
• Try to lay all pattern pieces in one direction. Occasionally, the patterns can be placed both crosswise and lengthwise – check the fabric works together either way.
• Do not over-use the border design; less is more.
Select a simple garment shape with as few seams as possible. Bias-cut pieces do not look good unless the material has a true bias pattern.
• Avoid bias darts, shaped and curved seams, kimono, dolman or raglan sleeves, turned-back lapels and V-necklines. Set-in sleeves, round or square necklines, horizontal seam lines and straight edge fi nishing work best.
• If unsure about the stripe direction and design, draw the stripe pattern onto the pattern pieces before cutting.
• Do not cut the collar with a fold at centre back. Add a seam at centre back and cut half on the lengthwise grain and the other on the crosswise grain.
• Use a one-way layout and cut as a single layer.
• Duplicate pattern pieces that need to be cut twice, place the adjoining pieces together on the fabric and draw on the stripes to make sure they continue across seams. Match at centre front and back and, if possible, at the sleeve head, side seams at the most visible point, pockets and any adjoining seam within the garment.
To find out more about this book please click on the cover image below.