Laying Out a Pattern

Locate and circle the cutting layout for your particular view, size, and fabric width. If your fabric has a nap, pile, shading, or one-way design, use the with-nap layout. You'll use the least amount of fabric while still having all the pieces match.


For many fabrics, the right side is obvious due to the nap, pattern, or print. On other fabrics, however, the right side may be difficult to deter mine. One clue is the way the fabric is folded or rolled on the bolt. Cottons and linens usually have the right side out on the bolt. Wools and most other fabrics are folded with the right side toward the inside.

Fold one edge back and compare the two surfaces. The right side may be shinier or have a more pronounced weave, more nap, or a brighter, clearer print. Some plain-weave fabrics are the same on both sides. For knitted fabrics, stretch a crosswise cut edge. The edge will usually roll to the right side of the fabric.

If you are undecided, pick the side you like bet ter. Then be sure to keep the same side throughout so the finished garment will not have any differences in color or sheen. To help identify the sides, mark the wrong side of the fabric with chalk marks or small pieces of masking tape.


Fgr. 1: Fabric Folds; Lengthwise fold; Crosswise fold; Partial fold; Double fold

The cutting layout shows exactly how to fold the fabric. For most layouts, the fabric is folded with the right side in. The pattern pieces are placed on the wrong side of the fabric for ease in transferring markings. This also protects fabric from soil and dirt during handling.

Stripes, plaids, and prints should be folded with the right side out. Matching fabric design is easier this way. When cutting a single layer of fabric, place the fabric right side up.

Your fabric may need to be folded lengthwise, crosswise, double, or partial. See Fgr. 1.

• Lengthwise fold. Fold fabric in half length wise with right sides together. Match selvages and ends.

• Crosswise fold. Fold fabric in half crosswise with right sides together. Match cut ends and keep the two layers of selvage even along each side. For napped fabrics, the nap must run in the same direction on both layers. Cut the fabric along the crosswise fold and turn the top layer around end to end. Match all edges.

• Double fold. Fold fabric twice along the lengthwise grain, right sides together. Usually the selvages meet in the center. This layout is often used for knitted fabrics.

• Partial fold. Fold fabric on the lengthwise grain, right sides together, only wide enough to fit the widest pattern piece.

After folding the fabric, smooth out any wrinkles by pulling both layers of fabric at the ends or sides. Don't try to smooth only the top layer with your hand, or the two layers will be off-grain.

When the grain lines are straight, pin the two layers together along the edges. This prevents the fabric from shifting as you lay out the pattern pieces.

Always work on a large, hard surface so the full width of the fabric can be laid out without any fabric hanging over the sides. In school, use a long cutting table. At home, work on a large table, folding cutting board, or the floor. Don't use a bed because the fabric can easily shift on a soft surface.


Underhanded Uniquizing Effort Sub-Series:

Wiki Sewing

Rotary Cutting Tools

Rotary cutters are designed to glide right next to the edge of rotary rulers. The thin, very sharp, circular blade promotes fast, accurate cutting.

Rotary cutting mats are self-healing.

Use a rotary cutting mat with a rotary cutter so that neither your blade or work surface are damaged.

Rotary rulers have repeated measurement markings that allow you to line up the markings with two edges at the same time to achieve perfect angles and straight edges as shown in the photo on the right. The 6- x 24-inch ruler is well suited for measuring grain lines while laying out pattern pieces.

TIP: Limited Budget

If you have a limited budget for sewing tools, sign up for fabric store mailing lists to receive coupons and sales notifications. Look for frequent buyer programs and clubs to receive discounts.



Fgr. 2 Checking the Grain Line

Lay out all pattern pieces in the same position shown in the cutting layout. Most pattern pieces are placed printed side up on the fabric. Pattern pieces that are shaded on the layout should be placed with the printed side down.

An arrow or a "place-on-fold" bracket indicates the grain line on each pattern piece. Place every pattern piece exactly on the proper grain line. Never try to tilt or angle a piece to fit a smaller space. If you do, that section of the garment will not hang properly.

Place pins at right angles to the pattern edge, making sure the points don't go past the cutting line. Pin every 6 to 8” (15 to 20.5 cm) along folds and straight edges. On curved edges and slippery fabrics, place pins 3 to 6” (7.5 to 15 cm) apart.

Follow these steps for pinning the pattern pieces:

1. Start with large pattern pieces that go on the fold. Place the pattern fold line exactly along the fabric fold. Pin along the fold. Smooth the pattern away from the fold and pin diagonally into the corners. Then pin the remaining edges.

2. Next, pin pattern pieces that have a grain-line arrow. Place a pin at the end of each arrow, pinning through all fabric layers. Measure carefully from the point of each arrow to the fabric edge. See Fgr. 2. If the measurements are not exactly the same, unpin one end and shift the pattern. Re-pin and measure again. Repeat until the grain line is straight. Smooth out the pattern in all directions from the grain-line arrow and pin diagonally into the corners. Finish pinning all edges.

3. Count the number of pieces on the cutting layout and compare to the number on the fabric. If any pattern pieces must be cut more than once to create four or more layers, be sure you have left the needed space. If two pieces must be cut from a single fabric layer, turn the pattern over when cutting the second piece. If a piece extends beyond the folded edge of the fabric, cut the other pieces first. Then unfold the fabric and cut the remaining pattern piece.

4. Double-check your layout. Are all pieces positioned correctly? Are the grain lines straight? Are there any special instructions for certain pattern pieces? SPECIAL LAYOUTS Special pattern layouts and extra fabric may be needed if you choose certain fabric designs.

When laying these out, always place the largest pattern pieces on the fabric first. Visualize where the dominant lines or designs will fall on the body.

• Napped fabrics. Place all pattern pieces in the same direction. For a richer color in corduroy and velvet, lay out the pattern so the nap or pile runs up the garment. Use a with-nap layout. See Fgr. 3A.

• Plaids. Plaids can be even or uneven, depending on the repeat of the lines. Even plaids are the same in both vertical and horizontal directions. Use a without-nap layout. For uneven plaids, use a with-nap layout so all pattern pieces are laid in the same direction. Use the dominant line of the plaid for the center front and center back. Match plaids at side seams and sleeves. See Fgr. 3B.

• Stripes. For even stripes, use a without-nap layout. For uneven stripes, use a with-nap lay out. For vertical stripes, place the dominant stripe at center front and center back. Match stripes at side seams and sleeves. Stripes will chevron, or meet on an angle, on bias seams. See Fgr. 3C.

• Directional prints. Use a with-nap layout.

Match designs at seam lines. See Fgr. 3D.

• Border prints. Place all pattern pieces on the crosswise grain. Match hemline markings to the lower edge of the border design. Place other pieces in the space available above the design. See Fgr. 3E.

Match stripes, plaids, and prints by placing corresponding notches of the pattern pieces on the same line or design of the fabric. Be sure to match at the seam line, not at the cutting line.

Fgr. 3 Special Layouts for Different Fabric Designs

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Cutting and Marking Fabric


Friday, 2012-06-01 11:21