Pussy Bow Blouse Sewalong No. 2: Measuring and Cutting

Hi sewalongers!

So pleased to have you with us. Today we’re talking measuring and cutting. If you want your blouse to fit you properly in the end, it’s important we get this step right. No slapdash measuring or wonky cutting allowed!

Banner - measuring and cutting

So let’s work out what size you need to cut. To do this, you need to find your your bust, waist and hip measurements. Make sure you’re not wearing anything bulky – for most accurate results you might like to do this step in just your underwear.

When holding the tape measure around yourself you want it to be fairly snug against your body. Holding it too tight or too loose will give you an inaccurate measurement. Aim to fit a couple of fingers between your body and the tape, but nothing more.

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To find your bust measurement hold the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust – usually this is around the nipples. Make sure the tape measure is horizontal all the way around your back. If it dips down or is up too high your measurement will be wrong and you could end up cutting a bigger size than you need to. We recommend standing next to a mirror so you can check.

Your waist is usually the smallest part of your torso, and the point from which you can bend sideways. Hold the tape measure around yourself, have a little wiggle, and it should find its way into the right spot. Remember, no breathing in!

For your hip measurement you want to hold the tape measure around the fullest part of your bottom. This is not necessarily the fullest part of your thighs when looking at yourself from the front, so it’s a good idea to stand sideways next to the mirror to see if you are holding the tape measure in the right place.

Once you’ve got your measurements written down, use this handy chart to work out which size you’re going to cut…

Pussy Bow blouse body measurements

Sorted? Now it’s time to put those paper scissors to good use!

If you’ve got a paper pattern then easy peasy. You can get cutting right away. If you’ve downloaded the PDF version we’ve got a little bit of cutting and sticking to do first. No biggie. If you’re new to PDF patterns and are a bit stuck on what the heck you’re meant to do with it, you can find our handy guide here: Assembling Your PDF Pattern.

Once you have it all stuck together you can now work from it as if it’s a traditional printed pattern.

So, cutting out. There are those of us who prefer to just go right in all guns blazing and snip right into the pattern paper. This is great if you’re confident of your measuring and are probably not going to want to make the pattern again for anybody else. If that’s you, then go on, grab your scissors and get stuck in!

But if you think you might like to make the blouse for someone else in the future, you might prefer to trace your pattern onto another sheet of paper. Then you can store the original safely away without a care in the world. You can find a tutorial on how to trace your pattern on the blog here: Tracing Your Sewing Patterns

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Now you’ve got your pattern all traced and cut out we can move onto the next stage. It’s more cutting everyone!

Quick question: who remembered to prewash their fabric? If you haven’t prewashed it already, hurry, you’ve still got time! If you simply just can’t, at the very least give it a nice steam press. You want to preshrink your fabric at this stage so that your finished blouse doesn’t shrink the first time you wash it. You do not, I repeat, you do not want that!

Making sure your fabric is pressed and wrinkle free, fold it right sides together, selvedge to selvedge. The right side of the fabric is the side that you want to show when you’ve finished the dress; the wrong side is the side that will be hidden on the inside. The selvedge is the finished edge of the fabric, which does not fray. On some fabrics the name of the designer is shown on the selvedge, and sometimes it is evident by little tiny dots in the fabric that run down this edge.

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When your fabric is folded, smooth out any wrinkles and staying clear of the fold, give it another quick press. Lay the fabric out on a large, smooth surface (in the absence of a table, the floor is a good substitute), and begin laying out your pattern pieces following the layplans in the instructions booklet.

Layplan - 115cm Layplan - 140cm

Pay close attention to the grainline – the grainlines on the pattern pieces need to be parallel to the selveldge. For the Pussy Bow Blouse you are likely to be using fabric that is slippery and tends to move around, so you should always double check your grain is correct by measuring from both ends of the grainline to the selvedge, and making sure both measurements are the same.

(For more tips on working with lightweight, drapey fabrics, hang fire with those scissors! We’ll be sharing some of our favourite techniques on Wednesday, so if you’re not feeling too confident you might like to leave your cutting out until then.)

If your fabric has a one-directional print, make sure you lay your pattern pieces out all facing the right way up, so your blouse doesn’t end up with upside down panels. Rookie mistake.

When you’re happy with the positioning, either use pins or weights to secure the pieces down onto the fabric.

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Then you can begin cutting! Try and keep the pattern paper to the left of your scissors as you cut – this will ensure that your cutting is nice and accurate. Keep the lower blade of the scissors in constant contact with the table for more control.

Once all your pieces are cut make sure to snip those notches. These are going to be invaluable when we get to the sewing, so don’t skip this step. You don’t need to cut out the full triangle – a snip down the middle will do. Keep these snips no longer than 5mm in case the blouse ends up too tight and you need to let it out a little.

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And we’re done! That’s it for today. We’ll be back again on Wednesday when we’ll be sharing our tips for sewing with finer fabrics. Until then we recommend keeping your fabric pinned to your pattern so nothing goes walkabout. They can be sneaky like that!

If you’re stuck with anything we’ve gone through today you can leave us a comment below, or holler on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. No flying solo for you, we’re on hand to help!

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