Pattern Prep, Newbie Alert!
Once I have decided on the view I will I measure the width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge. I circle that pattern layout on my instruction sheet with a marker to prevent my eyes from needlessly wandering the sheet for the "right one" as well as to prevent mistakes. Be aware that some markers will leach thru to the other side of the pattern sheet so test your marker out on the margin first.
I find it also really helpful to check of the sequence as so many patterns "jump around" from step to step all over the pattern instructions. I hate having to seek out the correct order of things when I really would rather be sewing.
After that, a bit of time in front of the TV with my "paper" scissors and I do a rough cut of the necessary pattern pieces, checking my layout as I go. Still looking sort of messy, right? Double check that you have all the pieces necessary.
For years, in my ignorance, I just smoothed them out and proceeded to cut the pattern and fabric out at this point. NO! It is off to the ironing board to IRON THEM FLAT. Patterns get the most amazing skinny wrinkles that stubbornly won't smooth out any other way. An 1/8th of an inch here, an 1/8th of an inch there, and fit inaccuracies set in. Trust me, it all adds up. If you have wrinkle discrepancies, then cutting discrepancies, then fit discrepancies, well, you can see where this is headed. Oh, NO STEAM from your iron ! It will shrink your tissue, more discrepancies. Use a low dry heat and get those pieces perfectly flat. See those micro wrinkle? They are flat now but you see their "residue".
Once all pattern pieces are ironed smooth, cut them out now on the black cutting line.Yes, I cut off this line, more discrepancy potential. Years ago these lines were much thicker and it was important to rid the pattern of their presence. Today it is clear the cost of ink is in play so the lines are much thinner. Either way, cut them off as best you can. Another reason to rotary cut! Oh, if you decide to not do this step, I can pretty much guarantee inaccuracy as you try to cut through your fabric layers and your pattern tissue at the same time. With a rotary cutter that habit will do a hatchet job on the pattern tissue, making it a mess to reuse again. With scissors it helps you get a nice even cut.
Doesn't this look sweet and ready to go?
Now it is to the cutting table or whatever you use to make your adjustments for fit. Using scotch tape will prevent you from re ironing the pattern on the next go round as it will result in a hot gooey mess and wrinkled pattern when ironed so use pink hair tape, a fave, cloth bandage tape, or better yet, actual pattern tape which you can get from places like Nancy's Notions.
ETA: I have learned to now use strips of leftover fusible interfacing to make fit adjustments to my patterns. I use the strips jist like tape but then iron them on. It makes the pattern much easier to prep the next time around.
Adjustments all made? Now you are ready to cut!! And remember, when your garment is all finished and it's time to squeeze all those pieces back into the envelope, read Pattern Folding 101 to make it easy on yourself and your pattern. Yahoo and happy sewing!
ETA 3/23/13: Make sure you read the comments. There are some additional great tips from our faithful readers. Thanks, FRs.
I have finished my Marcy Tilton dress and positively love it. Life has been hectic with hubby's needs and that's OK but I won't have pics till probably this weekend, pics and the down and dirty on my love/hate relationship with MT patterns. This was not the most earth shaking post but one that would have definitely helped me early in my sewing life and I hope it helps you a bit. As always, there is more than one way to handle a process so feel free to add your two pennies on the subject. I hope I have helped a few newbies. I love newbie questions and comments. More to come soon!...Bunny