05 July, 2015

Cutting Out My Shorts

I've been needing to make new work shorts for a while. I can't ignore the worn seams anymore. They've been worn to death. I will be making two pairs.

These are elastic waist shorts so no great fitting issues other than the crotch area and the elastic length. They are made from a pattern I drafted from some RTW shorts some years back. They hit me right above the knee and have all the top-stitching details that I love about RTW.

I haven't seen a post where someone shows you how they cut out pattern pieces from fabric so I thought to show you one of the ways I deal with fabric so it doesn't pull off the table while trying to cut a straight line.


 I usually lay out the fabric on the (clean) floor, doubled at the fold and smoothed out.
Some patterns give you a suggested layout but my self-drafted pattern didn't come in a cute envelope. The grain usually goes lengthwise so I lay out my front short pieces and backs with the grain going vertically from waist to hem. The crotch area gets cut on the bias which is sometimes a good thing. I try to keep all pattern pieces going top to bottom. Sometimes fabric has a tiny bit of directional nap which might not be visible until you finish.

This fabric has about 3%(?) lycra for stretch (and recovery). Most often, the stretch will  be more width wise than lengthwise, but not always. I want the stretch to go around my butt, - not down my leg. This is because the weight of the garment will start dragging on that stretch and your hem will get longer over time.

Basically, there is no right or wrong way to cut out pattern pieces. The stretch and the grain are both something to consider.

The other thing to consider is your knees. This is why I ususally cut garments out on my large kitchen island nowadays. However, the maid took the independence holiday off. lol

I lay each piece down, starting with the larger pieces, paying attention to the grainline. I fit the smaller pieces in as I go. Satisfied with my layout, I start pinning. Every four inches or so. Some people use a chalk pin or ink pen to draw around the shapes for easier and more exact cutting , but that's a newer skillset for me. These shorts have lots of ease built in (so comfortable for repeated bending at work) that my crap cutting skills will still get me to the finish line.

Some people use pattern weights - another skillset I've yet to master.
The problem with pins is the distortion they make in the fabric making the finished cut-out piece not so exact. Some fabrics react badly to pin holes too. This fabric is a nice cotton/?/lycra that loves my pins and doesn't slither around.

 Then I start cutting each piece out.

As I finish each piece, I remove all pins but one at the 'top' and lay this cut piece to the side. I like to keep one pin holding the pattern to the fabric. I have a whopping fifty years of sewing experience telling me that vacations from the sewing room happen and when you finally get back, things are often havey-cavey.

The other reason to keep pattern pieces with fabric is because some pattern pieces look alike!

or - mirror images. This keeps everything organized for when you begin to sew.

I have enough fabric for two pairs. I am sewing one up and then seeing if I need to make any adjustments before I cut out the other. These long tails of fabric will never be of any use to anybody so I cut them off as I go.

 I now have a neat pile of folded pattern pieces cut out and a pile of scraps.

I've re-threaded the sewing machine. I still need to re-thread the serger.

We had a glorious fireworks show last night. I chose to sit at my bedroom window instead of dealing with the no-see-ums outside. I could see four different shows clearly. Our Canbyland one lasted a really long time.

I think a nap is in order.


  1. And how were the tractor races????

    Do you have a sewing room? Space for a cutting table? I bought a 35" high table from Ikea--saves the back and the knees--if you have the space for it.

  2. You're lucky to be able to see fireworks from your house. Hubby didn't want to go up to see the Corbett FW show, so we just heard the big booms going off. We head out on Wed early AM.. see you on the flipside! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  3. Kyle - yes, I have a large cutting table in my sewing room. There are always important things (V.I.P.'s) around the edges of it. Normally, I would use my kitchen island for this but, like I said, the maid took some vacation days (haha). I find it easier on the floor sometimes as the fabric doesn't hang over the table edge pulling and stretching.

    The tractor races were fun. One of the guys brought his jet-powered tractor - I kid you not. Too bad it had a tendency to flame out when he stopped. They did a poker run - have to get off your lawn mower and pick a card out of the bucket to make a poker hand. Another neighbor brought his sand dune buggy (we called it - blades were in the shop for service - lol) and zipped down the runway for our amusement.

    We also had a neighbor bring her misting canopy. OMG - my new love. fine mist on hot 99' days makes it bearable.
    I'm ordering a kit for my patio. Looks to be hottest summer ever. El nina is so not our friend. Us Oregonians whine and carry on when the temp gets over 70'. It's been above 90 for three weeks with no let up in sight.

    I can't recall the last time I had the air conditioning on this long before.

  4. Wish we could wear shorts to work! Some schools are relaxed (given that cleaning toilets and dealing with sick children is part of my job) but not my school!!.

    1. Well - technically, dark slacks are specified but they do offer a skort in the uniform allowance. It's made of polyester ick material that keeps all the heat in. As long as the shorts are knee length, dark color, we skate by.

  5. Great tips on cutting out a pattern. It will be so nice to have a new pair of shorts to wear. Surely, a satisfying project!


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