How To Cut A Shirt

Sometimes you just can't find the right clothing to match your personal style and knowing how to cut a shirt comes in handy. Laying out patterns for sewing is not that difficult if you know a few tricks and can purchase just a few things to make the job easier. For instance, pattern weights rest on top of the pattern pieces while you're cutting and save time. No need to take pins to tack the pattern in place on the fabric. Simply put on a weight and cut the pattern piece. There's no need to buy expensive commercial weights. Take a brick, wrap it in aluminum foil and you're ready to go.

Some necessary items to cut a shirt include:

  • fabric sheers
  • pattern weights
  • fabric
  • pattern pieces
  • pattern directions
  • steam iron, optional
  1. Pre-wash the fabric. Better to have the fabric shrink before you sew the shirt, rather than after you've done the sewing and made it fit your body. Make sure the fabric is washable. If not, obviously, skip this step. If you're not sure about the washability, take some fibers and a match. If the fiber melts, it's a synthetic and may not be washable. If it burns, it's fiber and probably washable. If you're still unsure, take the fabric to a sewing store or your neighborhood dry cleaners and ask their advice. 
  2. Take out the pattern and look over the direction sheet. The first step in how to cut a shirt involves figuring out your game plan. 
  3. Press pattern pieces. This is optional, but it helps, especially when the pieces come out of the pattern envelope all crunched and folded. If your religion doesn't include anything to do with ironing, use your hands to smooth out pattern pieces and move on. You'll never be selected for a sewing design show, but you can still sew up some quality rags. 
  4. Press your fabric. This is another optional step for the obsessive compulsive, but also for folks who like their shirts to look sharp. If you don't press your fabric, it's not going to ruin your cutting or sewing work, but you may have to juggle a few corners in sewing, if your fabric is extremely wrinkled. The wrinkles make it hard to line up the pattern for the cuts. 
  5. Lay out your fabric. You'll need a large, flat area to put down the fabric to cut. Using a large table top is great because you don't need to do all the work on your knees or siting down. If you're a student, think lab tables. 
  6. Look for any nap or pattern. Nap is a fabric texture and pattern is the design. Image how both will look on the shirt. 
  7. Pin pattern pieces using the diagram on the pattern directions. Pin or use your pattern weights to lay out your pattern pieces in the correct way. Pay careful attention to pattern pieces designed to go upside down on the fabric. Look also for pattern pieces requiring a second cutting to make enough pieces. Think collar or cuff pieces for a long-sleeved shirt. 
  8. Take a break. Do something else before you check your layout work. 
  9. Look again at pattern directions. Make sure that the nap or fabric pattern is working with the flow of your design and that you've put all the pattern pieces in the right places.
  10. Start cutting. Begin at one side of the fabric and move methodically along with the pieces. If your sheers are dull you may need to sharpen the blades to make smooth cuts in your fabric. 
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