the Cutting of the Cloth

Sorry for this delay! Oh my! My internet was down over the weekend, the weather was crummy and pictures could not be taken and to top everything off I found that there was not enough of the fabric I was going to use for the construction process. Sheesh! Not to worry, internet is back up and working, all the posts are finished and awaiting their day to post, and I opted to sew a pair of linen trousers in lieu of the Spring that is just around the corner. Today I’m going to start covering the final construction of our trousers. Oh Happy Day! Here’s a rundown of the schedule:

♥ January 26 ~ Cutting of the shell, the underlining (optional) and the interfacing
♥ January 27 ~ Cutting of the lining (optional)
♥ January 28 ~ Stitching the pant shell
♥ January 29 ~ Stitching and attaching the lining
♥ January 30 ~ Stitching and attaching the waistband
♥ January 31 ~ Inserting the zipper
♥ February 1 ~ The hem

I realize I’m posting during the weekend. You can go at your own pace, I’m just trying to provide the information before you get there. Don’t worry, whether you finish your pants today, next week or next year feel free to post your images in the flickr pool!

Today we’re going to talk about cutting into your fabric. But before you go cutting, make sure you pretreat your fabric, your lining (if you have one), the interfacing and the interlining (if you have one). I decided not to cover pretreating fabric because I think we all have very strong opinions on how we like to pretreat certain fabrics. Be it known that I do. And I have a personal distrust of dry cleaners and will only dry clean very particular garments. Otherwise I do all my own fabric care and such, thank you very much. However, you may love your dry cleaner and more power to you. More power to you!!! If you are not sure how to proceed with pretreating fabrics there is an excellent article here on the Colette Patterns blog. After pretreating, do be sure to press all fabrics concerned.

It’s very possible that you have opted to use a plaid or a  stripe. Oh the HORROR! What are we going to do? And what do you cut for the lining? And what about the interlining and the interfacing? Patience Darling, I’m getting there. Here we go:

♥ Cutting the Trouser Fabric

If you are working with a solid fabric, you’ve got it easy Love. Cut the legs first and then go about getting the smaller pieces cut out. Alright? Alright. If you are working with a stripe or a plaid fabric, we’ve got to have a serious chat. We’ve got to have those plaids and stripes matching up perfectly. If they don’t, your garment will take on a homemade look rather than a professional seamstress look. And we are opting for professional seamstress in this class. I mean you’ve just spent a horrendous amount of time getting the muslin to fit right and examining yourself in the muslin to death. So matching plaids and stripes is a must.

Let’s talk first about where plaids and stripes need to be matched up. Stripes first. Stripes aren’t really that bad. Consider that you have to match stripes vertically, whereas plaids you have to match vertically and horizontally. What areas need to be matched? For stripes, there is the pocket and the crotch. This means that the stripes may or may not match up along the inseam and outseam. That’s OK. But they must meet up in the pocket and the crotch. For plaids we have quite a few more areas to consider. The plaids must meet up in the pocket, the crotch, the inseam and the outseam.

Sadly, I was going to use a brilliant tan plaid for the photos in the construction process. Instead you’ll be getting pinstriped linen. However, the idea is the same. There are several ways to go about matching up plaids and stripes, but I find that cutting out each piece individually is the best way. That is if the wrong side and the right side of the fabric are the same, meaning that there is not “backing” on the back.  This means that instead of cutting two trouser fronts in one fell swoop, I will be cutting them each separately. Twice as many cuts, but in this instance the long way is the short way. Let us begin.

I like to start with the front pieces first. Take your trouser leg front and align it on your fabric. The fabric is not to be folded, you are only going to cut one trouser leg front. Make sure you’ve aligned your grainline straight up and down. Go ahead and cut your first piece. Now flip your pattern piece over and slide the paper pattern over to a new area to cut. Place your freshly cut (from the fabric) trouser leg front, right side down, over the top of the pattern and line up the stripes at the top and the bottom and in the crotch with the fabric underneath the paper pattern. For plaids, make sure that the plaids are lining up at the top, the hem, the crotch and along the inseam and outseam. Basically both pant legs need to be identical twins.  Now you might be asking, but what if the wrong side of my fabric is backed or doesn’t have the print that the right side does? Typically woven bottomweights are the same on the front and back sides of the fabric, so I doubt that many of you will have this problem. However, if you do I’ll explain a different way of going about this process in just a bit.

Now we’ll move onto the back leg. For stripes, go ahead and line up your back trouser leg with grainline and cut. Do the same process that you did for the front legs with the backs. With plaids, you’ll line up your back leg on the grainline, but you’ll slide the corresponding front leg over the top of the back paper pattern piece. Make sure the the hem is perfectly aligned first. Fiddle with the bottom piece until the plaids begin to match up at the outseams and inseams, then cut. Does this make sense? You are basing all of the stripe and plaid match ups off of the first cut piece.

Alrighty, now if you have a plain backed fabric this task is much more difficult. For plaids and stripes I think the best way is to hand baste the folded fabric together, matching up the plaid for plaid or stripe for stripe with each stitch. Then you can cut. Or you can use this method that is excellently explained by Tasia of Still cutting piece by piece, but folding in your seam allowances for match ups, though I must say that I think with this method, it will be much more difficult to match up the crotch area. It would be wise to stay stitch each crotch piece before trying to press down the seam allowance and match up.

OK, the legs are out of the way. You’ll match up the stripes with the pocket in the same fashion as I’ve explained above. The waistband shell is on the bias if you are working with plaid or striped fabric, otherwise cut it on the straight grain. We’ve already discussed that here. Fold your fabric in a triangle and cut. For the waistband facing, cut those on the straight grain. Cut the interfacing for the waistband on the straight grain as well. Also, I’ve sewn up my first pair of these, just to make sure all was good and sound and found that surprisingly, for the bias cut waistband, the seam in the back (which I made of point of getting rid of) is easier to handle than having no seam in the back. I know you’ll want to slap me, but there you have it. Needless to say, I’ve cut this waistband with the seam in the back.

What about the interlining. If this is an option that you chose, you’ll cut the trouser legs and the pocket (exclude the pocket lining piece). If your fabric is particularly see through, you’ll want to cut one set of waistband on the straight grain and this you’ll attach to the facing. You’ll need to attach all the interlinings to each pattern piece before any construction. The interlining and the fabric will act as one fabric. It’s up to you as to how to attach them. You can machine baste, hand baste or glue. I machine baste.

Well….if that wasn’t a mouthful I don’t know what is. Tomorrow we’ll cut the lining. A much easier and less wordy concept.




3 thoughts on “the Cutting of the Cloth

  1. i would love to make my own trousers!! im saving this until my skills are slightly more advanced and ive finally figured out what is wrong with my tension discs!

  2. I can’t tell if I need to match up my fabric or not for the pockets. It’s a very small pin stripe. Can you check flickr when you get some “free” time and send me your thoughts?
    Thanks, I’d REALLY appreciate your help.

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