Over the next few months I will be posting a series of tips on how to get great results when you make your own lingerie. In fact, just about all my lingerie sewing tips and tricks can be applied to any sewing project! This week’s tip is all about accurate cutting. Accurate cutting is especially important when it comes to making lingerie because of the small seam allowances that rely on the fabric edge as a guide.
To start, pattern pieces must be cut with the indicated grain line or the direction of greatest stretch. These directions are indicated on each pattern piece. When it comes to direction of greatest stretch, I have seen the band of the bra cut in the direction of least stretch more than once and if that happens the band will end up too small to go around the body! (It also strains the band fabric causing the bra to wear out much faster.)
The simplest and most accurate method of cutting is to trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric then cut the pieces out of the fabric. When tracing the pattern pieces, I recommend weighting them down on the fabric versus pinning them into the fabric. Pinning can distort the pattern pieces and the fabric, particularly when the pieces are so small. It also helps to have your pattern pieces made of card stock to give you a nice stiff edge to trace around.
When it comes to cutting out the pattern pieces from the fabric, use sharp fabric shears to cut way the pattern outline. Remember, when you trace a pattern piece onto the fabric you are tracing around the outside of the piece. This means that you need to cut just inside that outline to get the exact pattern piece. If you were to cut outside the outline, you will end up enlarging the pattern piece by the width of the tracing line – all around the pattern piece. Depending on the marker you used for tracing, that can create a differently sized garment altogether! To encourage cutting the marking away, consider using a non-removable marker that does not bleed in the fabric. (I will talk all about marking the fabric in an upcoming post!)
For cutting you will want to be sure to use sharp shears to give you the most control. Sharp cutting tools also cleanly cut, not shred the fabric, giving you a clean smooth edge on each pattern piece.
While there are a variety of other ways to cut out your pattern pieces, the “outline” method is the simplest technique to consistently provide accurate results. Do you have any tips for accurate cutting? Feel free to share in the comments!