This post is one part of a Swimsuit Sew-Along series! If you missed the previous posts and would like to join in, just click below!
- Swimsuit Sew-Along Announcement
- Your Machine
- The Pattern
- Checking In
- Pattern Alterations (for fit)
- Altering for Style
FINALLY! We are really starting to get to the good part. Get those scissors & pins ready for cutting out your swimsuit and grab a ruler of some sort while you’re at it. I’ll show you why in a bit. The first thing to do is to look at your pattern’s cutting instructions. Most all printed patterns have this feature but don’t worry if for some reason your pattern does not because what we learn here will apply to your project too! If you have been sewing with patterns for any amount of time, you have figured out that most of the time, fabric is cut folded in half so that one selvage edge folds up to lie on the opposite selvage (selvage is the self-finished edge of the fabric, perpendicular to the cut edge). The grainline marking on your pattern usually lays parallel to the selvage. However, with a swimsuit, you will want the stretchiest part of the fabric going across your body, horizontally. To cut in that way, you will most likely fold your fabric so the cut edges are where your selvage generally is and your selvage is folded back over itself at each end (enlarge instructions picture above). Check your fabric for which direction has the most stretch and consult your pattern instructions to be sure.
Now lay you patterns on your fabric as diagrammed or, if your instructions don’t have a diagram, simply pay attention to how many times your pieces each need to be cut (Cut one of fabric, one of lining or cut one on fold, etc.) and the direction of the grain lines and place them on your fabric as best they fit – a little pattern tetris! To be sure your patterns are straight, grab your ruler and measure from both sides of the grain line down to the fold. Usually you use the selvage as your guide here, but since our cut edge might be wonky and the fold should lay nice and straight, we will use the fold this time. Back when I was first teaching myself to sew in high school, I would try my darndest to get the cut edges to line up even if my fold was rumpled – I’d just force some kind of fold to pin my pattern on…oh it’s a miracle I’m still sewing! Don’t worry about the cut edges lining up – just make sure you have a nice smooth fold. Adjust your pattern as needed to make sure it is parallel to the fold or on the fold, depending on your need, and pin in place.
Pin around each piece enough to allow you to cut accurately and when it’s all in place and you’ve double checked everything is right, take a deep breath & cut out your suit! Be sure to transfer all your markings, notches and any other points unique to your pattern. I still use the transfer paper and wheel, but you can use fabric marking pens, thread markings, whatever you’re comfortable using and won’t hurt your fabric.
At this point you are welcome to thread up your machine(s) and follow your instructions to get sewing! I will be back next week with some construction tutorials: Finding the right stitch for seams, Applying elastic to necklines, legs & armholes and finish Friday with finishing work – you could have a new swimsuit by Friday! Thanks for following along & please let me know if there is any way I can help!