Tutorial: cutting out a pattern

Can I just say I love that I learned about this automatic post feature? I never get to post on Sundays because I’m usually near the computer that day. So I’m programming it to publish when I’m not here. That’s just so cool!

OK, I know this may sound like a dorky tutorial. But listen, if I would have known there was an alternative to cutting out patterns like the way I was taught in jr. high sewing class where you take your paper scissors and cut out the thin tissue paper, tearing it accidentally as you go, and then pinning the thin tissue paper onto the fabric, and then taking the sewing shears and making little jagged cuts around the tissue paper, I would have caught an even bigger sewing bug long ago.

When I started sewing diapers, my online diaper sewing friends strongly encouraged me to get a self-healing mat and a rotary cutter. Little did I know that investment would spur on other sewing adventures. I have a large mat that covers the top of my chest freezer. I use OLFA rotary in a 45mm size. I find that to be the most multi-purpose.

We’re not cutting diapers today, though. We’re cutting p.j.s for part of David’s Christmas present. (Shhhh! Don’t tell him!) He was so sweet the last time I made him pajama bottoms. At the time I had been working on one-sized diapers for Elias, and pj’s for Silje. When he saw the boy flannel, he assumed it was yet something else for Elias. When I told him I was making something for him, he got so excited he jumped all around my laundry...ahem…I mean sewing room. The little sweetie loves homemade stuff.

I’m showing you this method on a Kwik Sew pattern. I’m going to try not to infringe on any copyrights or anything, and only show you partial pieces of the patterns. Kwik Sew patterns are a bit more money, but in my opinion, are worth every single little penny. I try to catch them at a half off sale usually. They come on actual paper, not tissue. I think their patterns are a bit more stylish, and less boxy as some other brands are. But that’s just my opinion, and I don’t get patterns exclusively from them.

The lady at the fabric store taught me this method, and I’m so thankful. She has saved me so much money and headache in the process. First, you’ll want to unfold the pattern you’re working on. It’s recommended that you iron the paper so that it’s more accurate. I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t.


Then you take some non-fusible interfacing. I buy the cheapest, thinnest stuff I can find for usually .99 cents a yard. This one happened to have a light graph on it, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, my favorite stuff doesn’t have it. You’ll want to trace with a Sharpie just the size you want. For David, I’m going with an XS. (This is pattern 3604 by the way.) The beauty of this method is you don’t cut the actual pattern. If I want to make him pj’s again next year, I just trace the next size up on some new “pattern fabric.” The hard copy of the pattern is actually never cut.


I transfer as much of the information from the pattern to the pattern fabric as I can. I usually write the pattern #, the piece #, the size I’m cutting it in, the grain, how many pieces to cut, and any notches.


Then you simply take your rotary, and cut out your pattern. For my own clothes, I can easily drape and pin this pattern onto my dress form, and adjust the pattern right there before it even touches the actual clothing fabric. It’s pretty handy.

So here’s a piece cut, and ready to go.

I’m making these winter pj’s out of flannel. Just a friendly reminder, when you are making clothing, preshrink your fabric. Do a zig-zag stitch on all the cut edges, and throw it in the washer and the drier, at the hottest setting they go.

What I love about this method is you just lay the soft pattern on the fabric, and it just kinda “sticks.” I’ve never had a problem with shifting (except with silky fabrics, but I rarely sew with those). Again, you probably should iron your fabric. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m pretty lazy. When it comes to diapers and pj’s I figure it’s going to get wrinkled anyway. When it comes to quilting or making a bag, I will pull out the iron. This is where I am so not like Martha Stewart.

Then just cut along the edge of the pattern. If your cutter isn’t going through the double layer fabric, it’s time to change the blade. Apparently, a dull blade will ruin your mat.

I leave the pattern on the fabric until I’m ready to sew. With as many interruptions as I get in a day, I try to get a pattern cut one day, and try sewing on a different day. In fact, while I was cutting this pattern, I was interrupted 2 times because it was nap time, and David kept crawling into Elias’ crib and tickling him without mercy. You should have heard it on the monitor. I wasn’t sure if I should be angry or crack up laughing.

And here’s my stack of pieces, waiting to be sewn up. I like to leave my sewing room with a nice stack like this, so that it’s immediately inspiring upon return. Sometimes I leave the room in frustration, but I try not to. If I leave with a tedious job to return to, I may avoid this room completely for weeks.

With my interruptions, cutting this out took less than 30 minutes. (OK, I didn’t time it. But it went really fast!) The quickest way to fall in love with sewing is a bit of instant gratification. Break it up into steps, and pretty soon, you’ll be done. If I waited to sew until I could finish it from start to finish, it would never even start.

Quilt Pati Tutorial

I have been promising a peak at my grandmother’s flower garden quilt that I’ve been working on for Silje. Today you will get more than you bargained for. I’m contributing a tutorial for sewmamasew.com on good uses for scraps.

My quilt is mostly in pinks with touches of green, purple, and browns. Favor is given to fabrics with roses in them. I’m trying to stay in the “shabby chic” look.

When you spend this much time on an heirloom quilt, it’s important to put some heirloom elements in it. For instance, the bunny fabric here is leftover scraps from my baby blanket that “well loved” to the point where I didn’t feel bad cutting into it.

The brown here is scraps from a flower girl dress I made for Silje.

The outer ring on this one was generously given to me from Silje’s great-grandmother who is an avid quilter, and let me go through her scraps to find something for Silje’s quilt.

And lastly, this green is scrap from the bedding I made for Silje’s cradle.

But there are so many more to choose from. This will truly be a good “scrappy” quilt!

I’m using quilt patis to make this quilt, and at the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’ll show you how to use them. I couldn’t find a good tutorial on these. I wanted to make this quilt the traditional hand sewn way, but I was into sewing…not cutting a bazillion pieces of paper or cardboard. I happened to see these on a quilting t.v. show, and found them on eBay for cheap.

There’s about 50 of these in a bag. They’re plastic, and my size is the 1″ size. I do have the 1.5″ size too, because they came with the package I got, but I decided to use these for tedious sake.

They’re very thin.

They’re very flexible, so that you can take them out easily once you’re done sewing.

So I cut my fabric to give a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the quilt pati. You need one for the center, 6 for the inner ring and 12 for the outer ring. (edit: I have learned since, thanks to my husband’s sweet cousins, that you can cut a square too, which can be a time saver, and just wrap the edges around the quilt pati.)

Pin the quilt pati to your cut fabric, and secure in the middle with a pin.

Fold a corner down tightly, and hold with your fingers.

You want to make a stitch where the needle hits both cheeks, but not coming out the fold. You are not sewing the plastic template, just the fold sitting on top of it.

Do the same stitch you just did in the same spot to create a loop. This will secure it.

Then move onto the next fold.

Loop it around again before moving on to the next corner.

Finish all corners, and knot up when you get back to the beginning. You can now remove the pin.

Once you have at least 2, you can sew them together. Although, when I’m doing this not for the tutorial, I usually get all 19 of the patis ready for 1 flower, and then sew them together in a more continuous fashion, so I don’t have to stop and make knots so often.

With right sides together, line them up and sew. I’m not sure what this stitch is called. Perhaps the whip stitch, or mattress stitch, or as I like to call it “putting it together anyway you know how” stitch. You should be sewing together just the fabric, not the plastic pati. It’s really hard to sew through the plastic, so you won’t do it by accident.

Voila! The purpose of all of this is to make sure all the sides are even and no pieces in the quilt are crooked. I have done some of the flowers in this quilt without the patis, but I have to iron every single seam then, and I can avoid the ironing with this method. You can ask Knut. I will do just about anything to avoid ironing. To me, sewing them on the patis is not tedious. Ironing 42 seams per flower is.

Once all sides of the hexagon have something attached to them, just pop the quilt pati out. All the quilt patis will be removed when the quilt is together. Of course this quilt will be hand quilted once the top is done. I’m crossing my fingers for a quilting frame for Christmas.

Repeat. I’m aiming for a full sized quilt, for those wondering.

What I love about this project is it’s so portable. I can sew these on a road trip, or while watching a movie, or while sitting in my boys room making them…um…I mean waiting for them to fall asleep. Although I do intend to piece together some quilts on the machine, those quilts aren’t portable, so you need to set aside a chunk of time to work on them. Most of what I have gotten done has been the result of keeping my hands busy while I wait, or sit and chat with a friend, and adds no more time to my day.

On a side note, surprisingly, many Sears stores have a decent little sewing supplies section. Check it out and possibly save with this Sears coupon.

So go ahead and try it. I dare you not to get addicted.