Prepping your Fabric – SEWING FOR BEGINNERS
Now that you know what you are making and you have purchased your fabric, it is time to get started preparing your fabric to sew. In the toolkit chapter, we discussed why certain tools are needed. Well, let us begin to put that knowledge into action. Some sewists like to prep their fabric by washing it, especially if you are using fabrics that can potentially shrink. If you do not plan on wearing your creation or care if the fabric shrinks, washing your fabric may not be a top priority for you, but it is highly suggested.
Care for your new fabric the way you would anything you already own of that similar fabric. After washing and drying it, it is best to break out your iron so you can get a crisp fold and lay to before you begin cutting. Care for the fabric when ironing it the same way you would things you already own. Once your fabric is completely ironed (or steamed) lay it out on your work space.
For patterns, pay special attention to the direction the fabric is folded in. Your pattern instructions will tell you exactly what to do. Cut out the pattern pieces that are called for (also indicated on the instruction paper). Some people will chose to keep the original pattern intact in case they plan to use the pattern for someone else or in the case of garments or the user foresees drastic weight loss or gain in their future. In terms of garments, for the purpose of this book and as beginners, let’s keep it simply—we have chosen a pattern that fits who we are right now.
Once your pattern pieces are laid out on your fabric, it is time to pin and mark your fabric. Use your straight pins to secure the pattern pieces to your fabric. Use as many or as little pins as you need to keep the pattern pieces from shifting as you lift the fabric to cut or move it. Certain fabrics need more pinning than others but this part is essential to getting your pieces the correct size. Some people choose to mark and pin their fabric extensively to ensure accuracy. It is best to place your pins horizontally. When sewing, it makes it easier to remove the pins as you go along.
If you are not using a pattern, you can trace what you are trying to duplicate or freehand draw it. Mark your fabric using one of the marking tools listed in the toolkit chapter. Remember that if you are not using a pattern to trace about an inch out from the item you are trying to replicate. You have to allow room for seams, which we will talk more about in coming chapters. If you cut the fabric to scale with the item you are trying to sew, understand that it will be smaller once you have completed your project because you generally have to turn things inside out so the raw edges do not show.
Now it is time to cut. Depending on what you are making, you can choose to use your shears or if you purchased it for your convenience, your rotary wheel, you can use that too. Don’t forget your shears need to be sharpened and clean and if using the rotary wheel to have to place your mat underneath your fabric. Keep your lines as clean as possible and take your time while cutting. Cutting out our fabric determines a lot for the look of your finished product. A messy cutting job can mean a messy and uneven finished product. Take your time and be patient during this process. It will all be worth it in the end. Now that you understand how to prepare your fabric for cutting, get straight to it. After you have cut out your pieces, whether you are using a store bought pattern, a printable and downloadable pattern, or just cutting fabric squares of your own, you are now one step closer to completing your project. Now it is time to choose your needle and thread.