An Absolute Beginner’s Guide: Cutting Your Pattern

I hope everyone is having a marvellous Monday today. Last week got away on me but we are back on track now! Today on An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Sewing we are discussing how to cut out a pattern. We’ve previously talked about choosing a pattern and choosing fabric so now we’re ready for the next step. In today’s session I’ll be using Colette Patterns’ Jasmine blouse pattern as the example. I’ve made this pattern once before here.


First things first – prewash your fabric – if its made from natural fibres (wool, cotton, linen for example) it will definitely shrink a bit and it’s such a bummer to only be able to wear something once. It may pay to finish edges the edges before you throw it in the wash so they don’t fray too bad.

Next up you’ll need to find a surface somewhere in your house that is big enough for your whole piece of fabric to lie flat – I cut all mine on the floor on my knees. Pick a surface that you can commit to because you’ll be cutting your pieces all in one go.


Planning Your Layout

Now we’re ready! Unless your garment is asymmetric you’ll be folding your fabric in half (the pattern instructions will tell you which way). Now pin the edges together. This will help your cutting to be more accurate by preventing the fabric from slipping. Lay out all your pieces before you start cutting – this includes pieces you’ll need to cut twice for a lining. Make sure they all fit on the fabric and that all the pieces are going the right way they should go. This direction is called the grainline and will be indicated by an arrow.

Anchor your tissue pieces to the fabric in some way. You could do this with pins or with weights – I use glasses. If you don’t the pieces will slip and slide everywhere meaning that they won’t be terribly accurate. If you’re making something fitted this is particularly important.


Snip Snip nip

Now you’re ready to start cutting! Slowly and carefully cut out each pattern piece. Next transfer all the markings on the patterns. These include the notches (as above) and the small and large circles. I use tailor’s tacks to mark the circles but you can use chalk as this can be quicker. It’s really important to transfer all the markings to your fabric as they help to tell you how to sew your garment. For example they may demonstrate where to start gathers, where your zipper should start and how to match seams.


Don’t forget to enter our competition – simply share a photo of your cat using the hashtag #catsforcolette and be in the draw to win their next pattern! More details here! Entries now open!


Behind the Scenes: March

March has been such a busy month at Dresses & Me HQ. I’m getting straight back into blogging and creating strategies to grow the shop now that I’m back from devouring churros, fawning over art and swimming in the Mediterranean. So what have I been up to?

The Blog

In March I starting writing a new series call A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Sewing. In the first post I talked about how to choose a pattern for your first sewing project and in the second post I offered some thoughts on where to start with fabrics. If you’re anything like me you’re self-taught and spend a lot of time wondering what the ‘correct’ way of doing something is. I’m hoping this series will offer some help for new sew-ers. I have many ideas for upcoming posts but if you have a burning question or topic send me an email [penny at dressesandme .com]


This month I made a pair of Pleated Pants and two Georgia Dresses (here and here). I was pretty stoked that my FBA turned out well as this was one of my first attempts at pattern editing – and you know what? It worked out and it wasn’t as painful as I had feared! I also cut out my Simple Sews Batwing Dress. I am currently sewing this together…

March also mean Meet Up! The Auckland Sewists’ Collective meet up at Tasca Cafe and had a riot. You can join our Facebook group to fine out about the next one here.


The Store

This month I officially launched Dresses & Me’s new website and logo. And because I am always looking for feedback on the store I developed a survey! I’m such a geek but I just can’t help it. On the survey you can tell me which patterns you’d like in the store and any other feedback (and you can do it anonymously if you prefer). So far I’m getting a clear indication that New Zealanders are keen to have Colette Patterns in the store next. So you’ll (hopefully) be pleased to read I’m working pretty hard to make this happen! Watch this space!

I have not be able to move the discount codes over to the new site yet. This is a very time consuming task as it requires manually entering randomly generated codes, creating individual discounts. If you want to make a purchase  using yours please send me an email. I hope to have this completed by the end of the month.


I was also really happy to be able to restock the whole Sewaholic range this month. Tasia’s latest design, the Gabriola Skirt, is a maxi skirt with a fitted waist and hips. It is very flattering and gloriously floaty for this great extended summer we’re having in. I also created a new patterns page so that all the newest patterns are in the same place.

What else did I do? I had a sale on all Victory and Cake Patterns and you guys pretty much bought up the whole stock! I will be placing a new order with Victory when Kristiann when she releases her latest pattern, Hannah (very soon). I don’t have a lot of sales (only had two since opening last June) so if you’d like to know about the next one join the mailing list here.

In March I also returned to study. I’ve previously completed a BA hons in sociology and art history, and while I enjoyed learning I felt totally burnt out by the end of the four years. This year I am studying Public Relations and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! But along with self-directed study and time management comes the inevitable procrastabaking (baking instead of writing a 4000 word literature review) and procrastaplanning (planning cool holidays or events instead of reading journal articles). These procrasta-pass-times have featured heavily in March for me. So tell me off if you see lurking around me too much on instagram!

To keep study spirits high I’ve been listening to this song heaps – enjoy!


Georgia Dress Unlocked

Here is my LBD Georgia Edition


Here is the final product! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on this number and it is finally finished. Unusually for me I did some pattern editing to get this dress to fit perfectly. From making my Hawaiian Georgia I knew that I’d need to make several changes to the real McCoy. I lengthened the bodice and straps, took the bodice in by about a centimetre on each side, and lengthened the hemline by about 10cm (this is one short dress!)


The pattern suggests using a fabric with a bit of stretch to help with fitting. This dress really does hug the figure! My first version of this was in a absolutely no stretch cotton and after making my muslin I decided I had to change to a fabric with stretch. Sorry guys (this dress was for the Monthly Stitch) but silk was not the best option anymore. Instead I used a wool blend from Nick’s Fabrics on Dominion Road. But I stuck with black like you insisted!


So would I make this dress again? Heck yes. There is something immensely satisfying about working on a pattern to make it fit you perfectly. Although I had to do a bit of pattern editing 1. this is totally normal and 2. I now have a go to pattern that is perfectly Penny sized.


Have you made the Georgia Dress? Did you make any adjustments?

Peach Pleated Pants

I made another pair of Papercut Patterns’ Pleated Pants in peach!


As with my last pair these were a breeze to make. They came together easily and the loose design meant there were no fitting issues. I love the style of these shorts – fitted in the waist and hips and loose on the derier!


I also enjoyed sewing these shorts because it meant I got to practice one of my fledgling skills – inserting a fly zipper. (A fly zipper is like the one on your jeans.) Getting a fly zipper in is a many step process, but one with an immensely satisfying result. I think it looks very profesh!


The pleats *make* these shorts. They are a great detail that gives this pattern a bit of flare and shape. I will be making these again!


these shorts were made as part of the Monthly Stitch‘s February challenge – join us in March for the next challenge!