Alder Sew Along Part 4: Cutting Your Alder

Today we’re going to be cutting our fabric. I know this post is a little late in the day but there was a bit of a laptop charger malfunction that needed to be remedied. Anyway we’re back and it’s time to cut!

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

First off you’re going to want to press your fabric so that it’s nice and smooth. You can more accurately lay out, trace, and cut your fabric when it’s freshly pressed with no wrinkles.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

From there locate the cutting layout chart for your size and fabric width. I highlighted mine as well as the interfacing layout so I didn’t start looking at other layouts. You can follow this layout or not, but if you bought the recommended length of fabric you’re best following as to avoid any yardage shortages.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Next I gather everything I need to cut my fabric. Cutting layout, pattern, weights, fabric, scissors, pencil (or your preferred tracing tool) and scissors. It’s good to have all this out and in once place to make the everything run smoothly.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

With your fabric folded selvage to selvage, lay out your pieces according to the cutting layout. You can pin the pattern to the fabric if that’s what you are used to but personally I like to trace the pattern piece off onto the fabric, then remove the piece.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

When placing pieces on the fabric that don’t fall on the fold make sure that you are aligning the grain line of the pattern piece with the selvage. Get out your ruler and double check, any off grain pieces will result in the drape of the garment being affected.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

If you’e tracing, trace around the outside of each piece. I use a number 2 pencil about 90% of the time, but you should use whatever type of tool you’re used to.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Mark any placement points such as the dart apex, pocket placement, and pivot point on View B. You can mark the button and buttonhole placements* now if you like but I prefer to leave that to the end. Since you will need to go through every step of the pattern before you get to that part the likelihood of the markings coming out before then is high.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Cut your pieces. When cutting you’re going to want to either pin or weight your fabric to keep the two layers from sliding. Also cut just to the inside of the line you drew so that you’re cutting that part off. When you cut a pattern or fabric you always want to cut off the outside line to avoid pattern growth, no matter how little growth it is, it’s just a good practice.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Don’t forget to snip your notches! I just clip into the seam allowance about 1/4″ to mark mine.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

The last thing you’ll need to do to cut your fabric is trim the CF edge of the right front piece. Right front is the piece that is on the right side of your body while you are wearing it. Women’s shirts / blazers / coats / cardigans always close right over left. Anyway, cut or fold along the dotted line on the pattern.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Align this pattern piece with the right front piece you cut and mark the new CF edge.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 4 | Cutting Your Alder

Cut the edge off and discard the extra piece you removed. You don’t want to get that piece confused with the actual right front button band since the piece you cut off is 1/2″ smaller in width than the actual button band.

If you’re making your Alder out of silk or another type of slippery fabric I have a tutorial on cutting silk fabric between paper here that you may want to reference, it’s how I cut all my silk. By using this method you eliminate the tendency of the silk to slip this way and that and can cut on grain much easier. This will also make it easier to sew later on because a lot of the difficulty people have with sewing silk can be attributed to the fabric not being cut on the proper grain, or the two pieces you are sewing together being cut off grain in relation to each other.

To cut your interfacing follow the same steps as above and lay out your pieces according to the cutting layout in the instructions.

See you back here Monday where we’ll start sewing! Sewing the button bands, darts, and attaching the pockets are up first. Have a great weekend!

*It was just brought to my attention that if you have the paper pattern the button markings are 1/2″ to the left of their proper placement. They should fall on top of the dotted line. The PDF is not affected.

7 replies on “Alder Sew Along Part 4: Cutting Your Alder

  • Laura

    Hi Jen,
    I’m a bit confused. Why are we trimming the right front piece? Is there some reason that piece wasn’t just made that way (without whatever it is we are trimming)?

    Thanks,
    Laura

    Reply
    • Jen

      You’re trimming off the folded under button band since we’re attaching a sewn on band for the right front. The reason the pattern wasn’t made with 4 front pieces is the addition of two Right Front specific pieces would have added about 25-30 pages to the download and about $4 to the price of the paper pattern as I would have needed to get a third sheet printed. At some point I have to decide what’s best for the customer economically and this was an easy way to do so without affecting the pattern.

      Reply
      • Nina

        And it also means you can cut your two front pieces together – but I guess we could trace off two pattern pieces with the right one pre-trimmed, and then cut them separately from a single layer of fabric, right? (I’m really into cutting everything on a single layer since seeing your demo of how much fabric it saves!)

        Reply
      • Grace

        I’m curious as to why you drafted the right front to have a sewn on front placket with a fold and the left to be a bend-back placket. I took a sports-wear pattern-making class this past spring and we drafted shirt plackets so that there were no folded edges. The CF edge was stitched to the sew-on placket piece with a 1/4″ seam, so there was a tiny bit less bulk and the front edge was stable. My orderly brain wants the both plackets to be constructed the same way, but I’m not sure what the reason is for any particular type of band. I’m following the pattern explicitly, but I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

        Reply
        • Jen

          So here’s the deal with the plackets. There of course isn’t one right way or wrong way. The sewn on placket on the right side with a folded under placket on the left is pretty standard ready to wear construction, check out shirts at places like J.Crew, Gap, Madewell, etc., most of them will be constructed the same way. When you get a bit cheaper they’ll occasionally have two folded under plackets. The more expensive the shirt the more sewn on pieces because, as you know, each seam costs money. When drafting a pattern for home sewing vs. production there are a lot of differences. One is that I need to make the pattern so that the largest number of people with varying skill levels (because there’s no test someone has to make before they know if they’re intermediate or not) can make a successful garment. In this case since a button down shirt has a lot of steps I needed to simplify certain parts. Folded under left band was one of them, plus most shirts people have in their closets look like this so if they have questions and need to look in their closets it will most likely match what they’re looking at. The folded under right band was another one of these. It’s much easier to get a perfectly straight line down the center front of the garment if you’re folding than if you’re stitching two pieces together. I could have easily turned this pattern into an advanced one, which is the beauty of a shirt pattern! Can easily be made as an advanced beginner, intermediate, or advance pattern, I just had to choose which one to go with.

          Anyway, long story short, generally speaking the more expensive the shirt, the more sewn on pieces because they’re more expensive to produce.

          Reply

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