Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Cutting & Marking

Full schedule of posts here.
Welcome to part two of our Three's a Charm Sewalong!  Today we'll be preparing our pattern, cutting our fabric, and transferring markings.  If you haven't already purchased your fabric, check out part one of the sewalong, where we talk about what fabrics would be suitable and give some RTW inspiration.

First thing's first - gather your supplies.  And if you haven't purchased your fabric or your pattern yet, we now have a kit available!  You can choose between four different colors of our Linen Mochi Dot, which is the fabric we'll be using in this sewalong.  Click here to learn more about these kits!

You will need the following for this pattern:
  1.  Three's a Charm Jacket Pattern
  2.  Fabric - we picked Linen Mochi Dot in Navy
  3.  Interfacing - we picked Presto Fusible Woven Interfacing
  4.  Marking Implement - we picked Clover Chaco Liner
  5.  Pins - we picked Glass Head Silk Pins
  6.  Tape Measure
  7.  Rotary Cutter or Fabric Scissors
  8.  Paper Scissors
  9.  Thread

You also may want some kind of closure, like a button or a hook and eye, but these are optional.  We planned to give this jacket a button, but we decided to pick one out later, once the jacket was already made.

Now let's get started!

Before we start cutting anything, first choose a size.  Here's the back of the pattern envelope:

One thing to note is that these sizes are grouped together for the fabric requirements.  For example, Size Group A includes sizes 30, 32, & 34, and it requires a yard and a half of 45" wide fabric or a yard and a quarter of 60" wide fabric.  Once you actually go to cut your pattern, you will cut one of nine sizes based on your full bust measurement.

It's also a good idea to look at the finished garment measurements as well.  This tells you how much ease is built in to the pattern, and it can be extremely helpful if you're between two sizes and are not sure which to pick.

We are making ours in the size 40.  Lauren's full bust measurement is 39", but she decided to go up to the 40 instead of going down to the 38.  After all, it's easier to take in than let out!

One of the most amazing things about Decades Everyday patterns is that the different sizes are color coded.  This makes cutting out your size so much easier, especially where the grading is tight, like around darts and curves.  Lauren's size 40 is the brown line.

Confession:  We're not always good about ironing our pattern pieces...but it makes for much more accurate cutting! A hot, dry iron works best. No matter what temperature, just make sure to turn the steam off as it will warp the paper.

And while you're at your ironing board, give your fabric a nice steamy press before cutting.

Cutting Your Fabric

Fold your fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge, and start laying out your pattern pieces as shown in the pattern instructions' diagram.  Make sure the grainline markings on the pattern pieces are aligned with your fabric's grainline.  You can use a ruler or a tape measure, but here's our little trick:  fold the pattern piece onto itself along the grainline marking and match that up with your fabric.  The polka dots really helped us here!

Then carefully unfold the other half of the pattern piece, so as to not disturb the fabric underneath, and lay the pattern flat.  Now you're lined up and ready to cut!

Once your pattern pieces are all set out, keep them that way!  We prefer to use pattern weights rather than pins, but it really comes down to preference.  And know that you don't need any fancy pattern weight; anything heavy will do.

One thing to note before you start cutting:  the sleeve piece will look a little funky and off grain if you have a linear print like ours, but don't worry!  That's just because of the dart at the elbow.  Use the grainline markings rather than the sleeve edge to properly align your pattern piece.  It will all even out in the end.

The sleeve piece may look off, but that's because of the elbow dart.  

Same rules apply with the facing piece—make sure you match those grainlines!

Now take a deep breath and bust out your cutting tool!  Again, it comes down to preference, but we love to use rotary cutters instead of fabric scissors when possible.  Not only is this quicker, but it disturbs the fabric and pattern pieces less since you're not moving the fabric up and down as you cut. Just make sure to have your self healing mat underneath when using your rotary cutter.

That being said, it's always good to have some nice sharp shears on hand, especially with detailed bits and sharp corners.  Here we are using our Fiskars Microtip scissors to cut the facing piece out of our interfacing.

Also to note:  when cutting out your interfacing, you may be able to lay out your pattern pieces differently than shown in the instructions.  Our Presto interfacing is wider than some other interfacings, so we were able to cut a double layer, instead of the single layer shown in the instructions.  We just had to place the largest facing piece with the printed side down.

If you do cut your interfacing single layer, be sure to flip the front facing and hem facing pieces over so you have two different pieces that are mirror images of itself, not two of the same.  (This is what's depicted in the instructions' cutting layout.)

Trimming & Fusing Your Interfacing

Trim off the edges of interfacing as shows in the instruction booklet—1/4" off of the un-notched sides and 1/2" off of the notched sides.  We eyeballed this, but you could definitely draw a line with chalk or a water soluable pen.

Now you are ready to fuse or baste your interfacing to your fabric.  If you have a fusible interfacing, follow the manufacturer's instructions.  We are using Presto Interfacing, so we used a hot steamy iron to bond the interfacing to the wrong side of our fabric.

Transferring Markings

We used two methods of transferring markings onto our fabric—our chaco liner pen and tracing paper with a tracing wheel.

For the small notches and markings, we used our chaco liner by lining up the pattern piece with the fabric or interfacing and then pulling the pattern back a bit to mark the fabric.

You can also cut small notches into the fabric to mark these, as long as you're careful not to cut too far in!

We also used our chaco liner pen to mark the center front and buttonhole, using the same technique we used earlier to place our pattern pieces on our fabric on grain.  Fold the pattern piece back onto itself along the center front and buttonhole line.  Then just mark along this fold!

Marking the center front.

Marking the buttonhole.

For the darts, we transferred the markings by using tracing paper and a tracing wheel.  Tracing paper is like a sheet of chalk that is placed face down on the fabric.  With pressure, the chalk is transferred to the fabric.  (Note:  the "face" side that is placed down onto the fabric is the colorful side.  The white side will face up.)

Then follow the dart lines with your tracing wheel.  The more pressure you apply, the darker the line should be.

Sometimes the line does not transfer that well, however.  You can try using more pressure or getting a new sheet of tracing paper, but you can also go over the line with another marking tool, which is what we ended up doing.  This ensures a nice bold line that will be easy to follow later when sewing.

Since the original marking wasn't clear enough, we went back over it with our chaco liner pen.

Phew, we made it!  We're finally ready to sew!  Even though careful cutting and marking can be time consuming, and lets face it, not terribly exciting, they will really set the stage for a smooth, worry-free sewing experience.  You'll thank yourself later!

Join us on Friday for the next post in this sewalong series, where we start sewing the facings and darts!


  1. Hi, thank you for your sew along! I'm just about to make my own version of this jacket, but am curious as to why we need to trim the interfacing - can you enlighten me, please?

    1. Hi Juliet! Thanks for joining us! Some patterns will tell you to trim the interfacings down so as to decrease excess fabric in the seam allowance. This just keeps the seams from getting too bulky. It's a small extra step that can really help make your garments look top notch!