Now you have your pattern pieces, it’s time to cut and prepare your fabric for sewing. To be perfectly honest, this is my least favourite step, but cutting accurately and making sure edges are stabilized is critical to the eventual look of your garment, so it’s worth taking the time to be as precise as you can!
First, cut the selvedges off your fabric (they’re the the long sides of your fabric, which are usually stiffer than the rest of the fabric, and have often little holes in them). Cutting the edges off will help the fabric lie flat when you’re preparing it for cutting, as Anne of Gorgeous Fabrics describes in this post.
Now, find the grain of your knit, which is parallel to the selvedges – many knit fabrics have tiny ridges on one side on the grain, which you can use a guide (also, the ridges are indicate the “right” side of knit fabric). Bear in mind that the fabric store probably didn’t cut perfectly across the bolt, so you can’t assume the cut edge of the fabric is perpendicular to the selvedge – it’s easier to to find the grain if you *first* square off the cut edge of the fabric to make sure it’s at a right angle to the edge. Once you find the grain, you can put a piece of masking tape along it to give you a very clear visual marketing to use as you move onto folding the fabric. Tasia of Sewaholic has more advice here.
Fold your fabric in half lengthways along the grain, selvedge to selvedge.
Any pattern pieces placed on the fold will automatically be on grain (because the fold is on grain). For the others, carefully measure from the grainline on the piece to the fold (or the selvedge) and make sure the grainline marked on the pattern piece is perfectly on the grain. This is important, because if it’s not done correctly the dress may buckle or twist when you wear it.
Cut it out! I prefer to use weights (just washers from a hardware store), a rotary cutter, a metal ruler and mat when cutting knits – this way, the fabric stays flat the whole time and doesn’t shift around. Using the metal ruler on straight edges helps significantly with cutting straight lines – freehanding is possible, but harder! If you don’t have these tools, you can pin the pattern to the fabric and cut with scissors, or mark around the pieces with chalk and then cut them out.
For the Christine Jonson pattern, I don’t do the self-lining in the bodice, so you only need to cut one set of the bodice pieces rather than the two as indicated. Instead, I add a neckline binding. To do that, first measure the full length of the neckline: that’s the two diagonal necklines that wrap over your front, and the back neck. Then cut a strip *across* the grain (i.e. in the stretchiest direction of your fabric) which is the length of your neckline + 2 inches, and 1.5 inches wide. You may not have a large enough piece of fabric to do this in one piece – no worries! Just cut enough strips that are 1.5 inches wide to match the length of your neckline (personally I don’t care where the seam is as it’s unnoticeable, but if you want to make sure the seam is at the back of your neck or shoulder, measure accordingly!).
Be very careful with your pieces – you don’t want the edges to warp, especially the front neckline which is on the bias (and therefore much more likely to stretch out of shape). Now is the time to reinforce the edges with the knit stay tape. Fuse the tape glue side down (it’s the side that feels rough) onto the wrong side of the fabric, on the shoulders, neckline (all the way around), armholes, and front wrap sides (the vertical edges of the wrap dress). Don’t do the hem yet. I’m using 1 1/4 inch knit stay tape, but you can use thinner if you prefer (and actually I think I should have used a thinner one). You should use a press cloth, or a teflon shoe on your iron if you have one. Remember to press up and down rather than ironing back and forth.
That’s it, we’re ready for sewing! Woohoo! How are you doing wrapalongers, do you have any questions?