Several methods, so try them to find which you prefer.
Rotary cutter or shears
The big choice is between cutting using shears or rotary cutter.
I have shaky hands so can’t use a rotary cutter without a ruler. I can understand why rotary cutters are much loved by people who sew unstable fabrics, as rotary cutting doesn’t move the fabric while you’re cutting. But I can only use a rotary cutter with a ruler, for cutting patchwork pieces.
And I find it very satisfying to use quality scissors.
Best not to use a rotary cutter until you’re sure you have good control of your hand. So you don’t find you have wavered off the line intended, and ruined your fabric or seriously injured yourself ! Never move a rotary cutter towards your other hand – that blade is sharp !
Also because of my shaky hands I’m a pinner, I don’t just use pattern weights. I use pins about every 4″/10cm, more round a sharp curve.
Use of shears
Keep your best shears for cutting fabric only, as cutting paper will dull them.
Shears have kinked handles, so you can run the lower edge along on the cutting surface. (Scissors have symmetric handles.)
– some people like to cut with the pattern to the right of the blades, some with it to the left. Try both and see which feels most natural and comfortable, which helps you get more closely to the pattern edge.
– some people love the swish you get from completing the cut stroke. But many people, me included, find we get a much smoother cut line, no jags, if we stop cutting just before getting to the tip of the blades, then moving the shears along. Takes longer, but I get a better result.
I often find it’s worth the extra work of drawing round the pattern onto the fabric and then cutting on the drawn line. I get a better result than when trying to follow the edge of the paper.
Patterns show cutting line or stitching line ?
The edge of ‘home’ sewing patterns marks the cutting edge, and you find the stitching line relative to the cut edge.
The edge of ‘couture’ patterns marks the stitching line, and you find the cutting edge relative to the stitching line.
So the ‘couture’ method uses a pattern without seam allowances. Draw round the pattern, so you have a marked stitching line. Then draw a second line outside that, to mark the cutting line.
Couture patterns do this so you can mark any width of seam allowance. Narrow seam allowances are good around curves, such as a neckline, as less trimming is needed to get a good result.
Wide seam allowances are good along main seams, as you can use them for fitting, either fitting during construction, or if you want to ‘let the garment out’ to make it larger later in the garment’s life.
Here’s a good guide from Threads magazine about fabric layouts, including aids to cutting out slippery shifty fabrics. Though one gap is there are no illustrations of cutting layouts, though the essential points do come out in the examples of other issues.
And here’s a post about how and why sewing makes so much use of cutting folded fabric.
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