How to cut to save fabric

How to cut to save fabric

This blog is the first in a little series about making the most of your fabric!

We know that it generally takes more fabric to make garments for larger bodies, so we're already paying more for our me-mades than smaller makers are. So here are some of the ways we try to use as little fabric as possible, while still getting excellent results!

How is our yardage calculated?

When the fabric consumption is calculated it's based on the largest size in the span. For us, our yardage is usually broken down into 2 bands, Sizes A-F and Sizes G-M.

This means that if you're not making the largest size in that span (and even if you are), it's possible that you will be able to squeeze your pieces closer together to use less fabric than the yardage suggests.

Our yardage calculations show layouts that sewists can achieve, but if you're confident at cutting and pattern placement, there'll always be extra efficiencies you can make.

Part of the reason that I like printing out mini-versions of my pattern pieces to calculate yardage is that you're working with your exact size to calculate it, but also the little tiny pieces makes it much easier to play around with the placement than big pieces do.

Cut on the open

Cutting layouts are often mapped out with your fabric folded in half down the middle, but you may have noticed that our cutting layouts generally have you cut with the fabric open and unfolded.

Cutting on the open is generally much more fabric efficient, but is sometimes less time efficient because you'll be cutting through 1-layers of fabric at a time, instead of 2.

One way around that is the "mini-fold", folding the fabric over itself only as far as you need for the width of your pattern piece and then cutting through the 2-layers at once.

You can see in the Atrax Top and Whitlam Skirt cutting layout below how cutting on the open and using mini-folds gives you extra width on the side of the fabric to cut 2 Atrax back pieces, which would otherwise be wasted fabric if you had simply cut on the fold.

Double cutting to save fabric

Another way to save fabric is the epic pattern tetris when you're cutting two patterns out of the same fabric. Natural combos like our Atrax Top and Whitlam Skirt or Banksia Bralette & Waratah Undies (or any of our other undies) won't take as much fabric as their yardage totals combined, because you'll often be able to nestle the pattern pieces next to each other.

Above you can see how with 150cm/60” wide fabric you can almost squeeze an Atrax Top around the space left by the Whitlam Skirt, and below you can see how squeeze 2-pairs of Waratah Undies and a Banksia Bralette from just 1.2m of fabric (Sizes A-F)!

Hot Tip: If you wish to make your undies from even smaller scraps, add a 1/4” (6mm) seam allowance down the centre back and/or front. Sew this seam first, using a serger or narrow zigzag

Scrap-bust certain bits

In many patterns you can do a little bit of fabric replacement to get more efficient cutting- use scraps and offcuts from previous fabric to use less of your main fabric!

Some of the pattern pieces you could use alternative fabrics for:

  • Pocket bags (you could even draft pocket facings)
  • Facings
  • Under-collar on shirts
  • Inner-yokes on shirts

 Of course, making these switches won't necessarily let you save fabric overall, but it might let you squeeze a project out of a remnant or precious/pricey fabric.


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