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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: alisono
Date: 01-30-2005, 06:15 AM (1 of 7)
Hi everyone. I'm Alison, new to the site and very nearly a total newbie to sewing. I did a bit at school about 10 years ago, and I'm trying to get back into it....

Anyway, I've been having a few problems laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric, mainly because I'm working in a smallish space. The table I use (horrible, wobbly, dining room table) isn't large enough to lay out the entire pattern all at once, and, if I'm honest, I tend to be a bit lax with checking grainlines.

Does anyone have any tips or methods to make my life easier?


User: alisono
Member since: 01-26-2005
Total posts: 2
From: Magot
Date: 01-30-2005, 08:26 AM (2 of 7)
Don't be lax on grainlines! The whole garment will pull out of shape if you are not careful - then all that work goes to dust..
We had to use a small space so fold the material according to your pattern layout and then treat it like pasting a roll of wallpaper. Start at one end with the rest neatly folded as though a mini bolt of cloth. Lay out and pin as much as you can then roll this up and expose the next part of the material. A bit like rolling and unrolling a scroll. Pin the grainlines first and then smooth the paper out from these to pin. Sometimes I measure the grain lines from the selvage if it is not easy to see on the fabric - especially if I am using stuff cut on the bias.

Then go all the way back to the beginning and check it all again to make sure you haven't forgotten any pieces. Anything that needs to be on a single piece of fabric will have to be laid out after the others are cut so be sure to leave enough room for it.
love and kisses, Jan
Cells a Speciality
DNA to order.
User: Magot
Member since: 12-22-2002
Total posts: 3626
From: mommydionne
Date: 01-30-2005, 10:32 AM (3 of 7)
Do you have a good floor space ? I've laid out many a garment out on the floor, including my wedding dress (I picked it all up after cutting and walked into my mum's kitchen and then heard the Christmas tree fall over onto the spot I had been working talk about luck!! I had visions of 10 metres of taffeta going down the tubes))

Hardwood is nice b/c you can line up with the lines of the floor :bg: , the last dress I did on the floor was a bias floor length gown for my babysitter, I dug out my volleyball knee pads and that was great!

grainlines are very important! unless you like twisted seams!
User: mommydionne
Member since: 01-08-2004
Total posts: 838
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 01-30-2005, 05:44 PM (4 of 7)
For years, I had to do what Jan told you about.. Fold what you have already pinned in place and go on to the next pieces to lay out and pin.. I used the back of a chair against the table to make sure the folded or rolled part did not fall or roll off.. I did not want it to hang off the table.. (it would pull the fabric and distort it, maybe) You must always lay out the whole pattern first, before you cut, to make sure there is enough fabric..
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: DorothyL
Date: 01-31-2005, 07:50 AM (5 of 7)
Usually I quickly lay the larger pieces on the fabric just to be sure I have enough and then I pin and cut them one at a time. That way I'm not moving and shifting the fabric. But I try to have a bit more fabric than I need so I don't have to cram stuff in. I'm not sure I would recommend that system for a beginner. It really does break all the rules. But if you know you have plenty of fabric it does help with making sure of straight cuts.
And, like everyone says, those grain lines are very important.
The whole thing about laying out and cutting the fabric right is that it is very hard to correct most mistakes you make at this step. They will be there the whole time you are sewing and in the finished garment. For most of us the cutting is the biggest pain in sewing but you just have to do it right.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: TammyE.H.
Date: 01-31-2005, 10:32 AM (6 of 7)
snip. Start at one end with the rest neatly folded as though a mini bolt of cloth. Lay out and pin as much as you can then roll this up and expose the next part of the material. A bit like rolling and unrolling a scroll. .


A suggestion that was given to me was to use the leftover tube from Xmas wrapping paper, and roll my fabric onto it. Now, this works best for lighter fabrics...

I've also used the "Floor Method". I had to make a cloak once and there was no way that I could do it anywhere else.

So long as I could keep the cats off, I was okay... :re:

Thankfully I now have enough space on the dining table to comfortably lay out the first half of most of my projects, get them cut, then move the fabric up and do the second half. I like to keep the balance of the fabric on a chairback off the table. I find it stabilises it for me.

User: TammyE.H.
Member since: 08-28-2004
Total posts: 51
From: alisono
Date: 02-03-2005, 09:12 AM (7 of 7)
Hi everyone.

Thanks for all the tips. As for the grainlines, it's really just laziness on my part, :re: but I promise I'll try harder. Anyway, making mistakes is part of the learning process, right?

User: alisono
Member since: 01-26-2005
Total posts: 2
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