Altering a cutting plan for different fabric widths

The fabric amounts given in our sewing pattern instructions and cutting plan refer only to the original fabric. If you purchase a fabric that is the exact equivalent of the original, then you can rely on the same cutting layout. However, your fabric requirements and layout can vary considerably if you choose fabric in a different width or with large patterns, checks or stripes. In this case, the first task is to calculate the amount of fabric you need before purchasing!

TOP TIP! It’s easiest if you do a trial run: fold a bed sheet to the required width, place on all the pattern pieces, remembering to take the grainline into consideration, and then measure how much fabric you will require.

As a general guide – for simple tailored or straight style jackets, dresses and skirts, the best advice is to allow:

1 x garment length for the front + 1 x garment length for the back + 1 x garment length for sleeves

Plus allow extra if the fabric needs pattern matching

Although for any styles that have flare or a fully shape its more difficult to generalize without laying out the pattern pieces.

Laying out the pattern pieces

Pattern instructions usually contain a pattern layout that can be used when laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric before cutting. This map shows where the pieces should lie on the two basic widths of fabrics (45″ or 55″ / 114 cm or 140 cm) in order to be cut in a way that wastes the least amount of fabric. This is especially important because the yardage required is estimated from this layout, so if cut differently, you might run out of fabric!

fabric layout

The plan indicates where the fold of the fabric should be when you cut the fabrics, with a thick dotted line.

Additionally, the plan tells you which way to lay the actual pattern onto the fabric, meaning if the printed side of the pattern should face down onto the fabric, or face up. The solid line around a pattern piece means it should face up, and the thin dotted line means it should face down.

Generally as a rule, the fabric is folded so that the right side is on the inside. This makes marking darts, notches, etc, much easier after the piece is cut.

When you lay out the pieces, be sure to line up the grainline marking on the pattern with the grainline on the fabric, going in the desired direction. Most commonly you will find the grainline to be a vertical line going from the top to the bottom of the pattern, which means it should be placed on the lengthwise grain of the pattern, running parallel to the selvage edge.

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