8. DRESS FABRIC SECRETS
CUTTING AND CHOOSING YOUR DRESS FABRIC
With a basic knowledge of how to draft a simple pattern and how to draft variations of design for any part of the pattern, we can now begin to think of the dress fabric.
In choosing your material you must keep several things in mind. Keep the style you have designed in mind. Remember to judge the dress fabric for its suitability as far as season, occasion, and the individual who will wear it is concerned.
HOW MUCH MATERIAL WILL YOU NEED?
The dress has been designed, the pattern drafted and cut — every necessary part, facings, bias bindings, pockets, trimmings, etc., have all been cut and marked.
First decide on width of dress fabric to be used, then lay all your pattern pieces on the same width muslin or paper exactly as it will be layed out for the final cutting. Make sure to place all your pattern pieces parallel with the straight of the goods. The amount of material you will need is exactly the amount you have used for laying out your pattern.
Special planning is required for stripes, plaids, prints, and material with nap. The additional amount of dress fabric needed will depend on the style and amount of matching required, and on the size and spacing of the fabric design. Generally fabrics with small designs will require 1/8th yard extra.
Medium designs, stripes, and small plaids —¼ yard extra.
Napped materials, large plaids and large spaced prints will require ½ yard or more extra depending on the design and style.
PREPARING MATERIALS FOR CUTTING
Before any cutting is to be done the dress fabric must be checked for shrinkage control. It is always best to shrink all cottons and woolens whether they have been preshrunk or not. This is best accomplished by immersion in tepid water and pressing dry through a cloth or by pressing the dry material with a damp cloth and steam iron. When pressing be sure to just press and not push the iron back and forth over the material — the latter will only stretch it out of shape.
Another important thing to do with all materials is to straighten edges. Firm materials can be straightened by clipping selvage and tearing.
Delicate materials require delicate handling. Some materials are impossible to tear — with these you will have to draw a thread across the dress fabric and cut along this guide.
Determine which side of the material you want to use as the right side: Washable materials usually come with the right side folded out.
Silks and Wools usually come with the right side folded in to prevent soiling.
Some materials may be used either side — use your own judgment as to which side is more attractive in finish, pattern, weave, etc.
Straighten grain of dress fabric by stretching on the bias from selvage to selvage. Press out all creases and wrinkles.
Pin selvages together to make certain the center fold will be directly on the straight of the dress fabric. Always fold your right side in. Extra pinning is required for plaids, checks, stripes, and smoothe slippery materials to prevent material from crawling and the design from creeping out of alignment.
When you lay out your material for cutting use a large table. Special cutting boards (folding) are available — these are especially good because they are marked for straight lines and right angles and fabric can be pinned to it to keep it in place.
Have all pattern pieces properly marked for straight of goods and for joining points. Place all pattern pieces on your dress fabric making certain that the straight of goods marking matches the grain of the material.
Use sharp, long scissors. Keep material and pattern flat on table. Don't pick up the material. Let the blade of the scissors lift only enough to enable cutting. Take long, clean strokes.
Before removing pattern from material, make sure that you have transferred all the markings to the dress fabric. In a later chapter you will learn how this is done.
SPECIAL CUTTING PROBLEMS
In preparing your material for cutting, pin stripes together. Have fold of material exactly in the center of a stripe or exactly in the center of the space between. If dress fabric has a tendency to crawl, pin stripes together at varying intervals.
With no front opening in the dress design place dominant stripe at center of front and match the rest to this.
On openings stripes must be matched and appear unbroken.
Your second pattern piece with the opposing stripe marked on it is placed on the material, for proper placing, keep the shoulder seam on this piece turned back and move your pattern over the dress fabric until you match the stripes marked on them at the points where they cross the seamline. Pin your pattern securely at this point, unfold seam line — and this is ready for cutting.
HOW TO MATCH OTHER FABRIC DESIGNS
The same procedure can be used for matching stripes, plaids, or checks at any seam.
Plaids or checks have to be matched crosswise and lengthwise at the same time. Since there is always some difference in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the fabric design in plaids and checks, always remember to match lengthwise design with lengthwise design and crosswise with crosswise.
With all such problems it is important to train your eyes and your judgment.
Cutting plaids or checks on the bias requires extra care. Fold your dress fabric on the true bias and pin at frequent intervals to keep the design in perfect alignment and symmetry on both sides.
When cutting sleeves on the bias of plaid material...
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