It’s the Saucy Skirt Sewalong, and it is awesome to see you back here for Day 4: Preparing your fabric!
How are you getting on with the sewalong so far? Any struggles? You can hit me up with any questions in the comments sections below each post! If you missed the first three days, pop here to start at Day 1!
That said, I’m really chuffed that you’re hanging in there with me. I know that the first time I drafted this pattern and made this skirt it felt like the most terrifying thing EVER. With no one to guide me, and figuring it all out by myself, I got a bit carried away and didn’t double check each step.
Now I make sure to work slowly and methodically through the task list, so that nothing gets left out. It’s made me a much more organised fashion creator! 🙂
Day Four – Preparing Your Fabric
So, for Day 4 we will be preparing your fabric!
Did you manage to head out this week and buy fabric for your skirt? Is it so super-duper amazing that you totally fell in love with it at first glance?
Have you also bagged yourself some cheaper, similar weight fabric to make your toile / muslin in?
If so, your next job is to check that the fabrics are on grain. *say what?*
What do I mean by this? When fabric is woven, it has a warp thread and a weft thread.
- The warp thread runs up and down the length of the fabric.
- The weft thread runs back and forth across the warp thread, at a 90* angle.
- The warp edge is the selvedge.
When we cut and rip the fabric across, we are ripping in line with the weft thread. FYI, it’s not a great idea to rip your fabric. Yes it does help you find the grain, BUT, it also helps to distort the fabric!
Fabric grain – on or off?
Part of preparing your fabric is knowing if it is on grain. Now, if you have found your weft thread, and it sits at a nice and neat 90* angle to your warp thread – BINGO! – your fabric is on grain!
If it isn’t, it’s off grain and needs straightening. This ain’t always possible. In fact, some would say that if it is off grain, it’s dead fabric. BUT.. I don’t believe in pointless waste. Even if the fabric was woven wrong, let’s not just dump it in the landfill right?
So, to counteract the ‘off’ we can try to work the fabric opposite to what it’s doing. I was taught to try this at university.
- You take opposite selvedge edges and pull them diagonally across in the direction that is ANTI the distortion. And pull gently!
- The idea is that you are realigning the fabric so that it then sits on grain…
- I’m just gonna say… if the fabric is more than 100cm wide, this is a tricky task! (Unless you have super long arms! – I don’t!)
After you have the fabric as close to on grain as possible you have to pre-shrink it. This can be done in one of two ways:
- Pop it in the washer at the appropriate temperature and give it a spin. (This will take a while longer, as you’ll need to dry the fabric too.
- Pull out your ironing board and iron and give it a good steam. That’s right.. we’re not IRONING it.. we’re steaming it!
The Pressing Method
Yep. This is called pre shrinking. You do it with a little steam from your iron, but you’re not really ‘ironing’ in the traditional sense.
- You just rest your iron above the fabric for a few moments and let the steam ‘shrink’ the fabric! There’s no touching of the iron and fabric! 🙂
- Now, don’t leave your iron in that spot for too long – we don’t want to damage our fabric! Once you’ve applied some steam, move to a new section. You should be doing this in a very methodical manner, covering the entire piece of fabric!
This should be done today for your toile / muslin fabric, and if you have time, your actual skirt fabric too!
Next, we will be cutting out our panels!
- Carefully place and then either pin, or use pattern weights, to weigh down your pattern piece ‘panel’ on your fabric. This needs to be as close to the selvedge edge as possible, as we’ve a few to cut out!
- I’ve been cutting EIGHT panels out of a pair of donated sand washed silk trousers – I’m at Day 7! They were a high waisted UK10 and were NEVER gonna go round my tum!
- The fabric should be doubled up if it isn’t a thick type, so that you are cutting two panels each time when you lay down the pattern piece.
- Make sure to measure that the centre grain line of the panel is the same distance from the selvedge all along – we want the fabric to be on grain, even if this is just a toile / muslin!
Marking and Cutting Out
- Cut carefully around the piece using scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat.
- Don’t forget to snip in all the notches as marked on your pattern. Remove the pattern piece from the fabric and carefully set aside the fabric panels. You will now need to cut out the remaining required panels from the fabric in the same way, making sure to stay ‘on grain’.
If you have time, and you’re interested in crackin’ on a little more, you can also pre-shrink your actual fabric too, while your iron is out! 🙂
That’s it for today. Put your newly cut panels to one side we’re going to sew up your toile tomorrow!
RECOMMENDED READING: Make your own Full Circle Skirt.
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13 Essential Sewing Tools. Do you want to sew your own clothes? Do you have no idea where to start? Join me as I teach you stylish fashion skills, from beginner to advanced.