Its all in the preparation – Grain lines and lays

I’ve been back teaching at college for the last 3 weeks. It’s so good to be back teaching without all the restrictions and letting the students socialise as they did prior to the pandemic. It’s the reason I love my job.

I want to follow on from my posts earlier in the summer about sizing. Once you’ve got your pattern ready to go, you can start cutting out. However you can’t just plough in willy nilly and hope for the best, you’ve got to lay your fabric out correctly and mark all the panels in readiness.

I’m making view C of this pattern and using this fab viscose challis, both I got from Cheap Fabrics (it comes in colours pink, white and kingfisher).

Cheap fabrics has a wonderful selection of everything you’d need to make a full garment and as the name suggests, at a good price. I’ll be sharing more of what they have on offer in future posts as the lovely team there have sent me quite a bit to keep me sewing!

Lay plans

Most patterns should have a lay plan. This means a computer has done the hard work of figuring out how to get the most amount of usage with the least amount of fabric to save wastage and your money. It can seem a bit confusing about which lay plan to use for which size or view so hopefully this will clear it up.

I’m doing view C so I need to find the lay plans for view C and then I need to find the individual lay for the width of my fabric. For this pattern, there is one lay for 45″/115cm wide fabric and another lay for 60″/150cm wide fabric. Sometimes the lays will be for a specific range of sizes, so check that the lay you’re about to use is for the size you’ve chosen. My fabric is 150cm wide so I’ve circled it.

Laying out and grain lines

Now that I’ve figured out which lay I’m doing, I can see the fabric is folded in half down the length of the fabric with selvedges matching.

This is a conventional way to cut out the majority of patterns as you end up with two of each panel (a left and a right). If your fabric is particularly drapey or you feel its not sitting straight, lay the selvedges against something long and straight like the edge of a table, a metre stick or if you’re cutting out on the floor, a skirting board. Following the lay plan I can arrange my pieces onto the fabric ensuring my grain lines are straight.

Now what is a grain line I hear you ask? It is SO important to getting the hang of your garment right. The best example is, if I was making a circle skirt, I would want my fullness to be even on both my left and right. If I didn’t follow the grain it would be off centre and it wouldn’t be so pleasing to the eye. Vicose challis is quite a drapey soft fabric so the grain line is really important to have a successful garment.

So how do you make sure your pattern pieces are completely straight on the grain? You need to make sure the grain line marked on the pattern pieces are perfectly parallel to the selvedge edge (as this is meant to be straight). This means that whatever your measurement is between the grain line and selvedge is at the top of the pattern piece, is the SAME at the bottom of the pattern piece.

Panel 6 for this garment doesn’t have a grain line marked on it and that is because it is cut on the fold, see the symbol above in the photo. It is also marked on the pattern. This doesn’t need to have a grain line marked on it as the fold should be perfectly on the grain if your selvedges match properly. So panel 6 needs to be right on the edge of the fold.

I like using pins rather than clips, weights, etc. I’m old school. When you pin, resist the urge to lift the fabric up in your hands. Try to push the pins through the fabric and use the pin to lift the fabric slightly to push it back out to the top again. The benefit of cutting out using pins is that once your panel is cut, the pattern piece can remain attached until you’re ready to sew that particular panel. Which means you’re less likely to get it mixed up or lost and it’s more convenient while you do your tailor tacks and notches. These I’ll talk about in my next post. At end of day as long as you’re accurate, what does it matter?!

As I’m making this garment in conjunction with my sewing classes, I’ll show you progress. I’m quite excited for this blouse, I think it might become a wardrobe staple.

Thanks for reading.

Rosie xx

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