Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sewing Layout and Cut: Favorite Tools

I've got a really busy schedule this year, teaching classes, preparing for a fashion show, and getting new designs figured out and finished. It can take a long time, even a whole day to prepare the pattern, lay it out, cut. and mark the fabrics, overlays, laces, interfacings linings and so forth. Of course I've tried all the modern methods, and I do use a quilters mat and rotary cutter for some things still, but my favorite tools to layout and cut is a Dritz Superboard and a pair of vintage electric shears. They help me to be fast and efficient.

Favorite Tools

 The Superboard has a 1" grid that helps me with layout, especially when I can see through the fabric even slightly. I don't have to measure from the selvage or fold, I just line up my fabric to make sure it's square with the grid and then I can match my grain line arrow up with the nearest grid line and pin in place.

I pin right into the board, angling my pin inward so that it doesn't get in the way of the cutting line. It's the perfect surface for marking fabric with dressmakers carbon and a tracing wheel. Yes, at one time I used air or water erase fabric pens, but I want to make sure I make an exact copy of what's on my paper and the old vintage method is the most accurate.

Dritz Superboard
This board is fairly inexpensive and easy to find. I buy mine at JoAnn Fabrics with a 50% off coupon. In fact, I stack two on top of each other and use push pins (thumb tacks) when cutting sturdy fabrics.

vintage electric scissors
Electric Scissors are fairly plentiful at the second hand shops because, it seems, no one wants these lovely's. I have nabbed up quite a collection and tried them all, and not all are equally useful. Even at the most expensive, they run about $3.95 in my area, way less than a pair of scissors. If you are thinking of snagging a pair for yourself, and if you are able, hold it in front of you as though you were going to cut, with the bottom square to the table. If you can't see the blades, then pass them by. Some will have lights and adjustable speeds. These are of no consequence. Some will angle strangely. Pass those as well.

Can you buy them new? Of course. Nowadays, you'll be looking for a brand like Black and Decker, Sears, Dritz, or even Simplicity. They all seem to have overly large handles and strange levers as if more is better. I don't care for them, personally. I like to keep it small and simple.

In your search you may come across rotary electric shears or knifes. These are professional cutting tools for cutting many layers of fabric. They don't work so well with only only one or two layers.

I will say that it does take a little getting used to. At first it will feel awkward, and you'll go too slowly, and you won't know that a short horizontal glide will easily cut your notches for you, but after a while you'll get the hang of it and will never want to go back to cutting with scissors. 

Now you know how I get my work done and stay (mostly) efficient! Happy Cutting!

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