#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Preparing your Fabric (M7684)

Welcome to week one of the sewing part of the Royal Wedding Sewalong! By this point you should have your pattern (in my case, McCall's 7684), fabric, and notions... we're ready to start.

Gather all your fabric and first, before you do anything else, make sure to wash it! I had a lot of questions about if I always make a muslin, and the answer is no. But do I always wash my fabric? Yes! Always! My general rule is to launder your fabric however you intend to launder your garment in the future, so if you want it to be wash-and-wear, wash your fabric in the laundry machine, if you plan on dry cleaning your dress, you could dry clean your fabric.

I have three layers to my dress--an outer poly chiffon and a nude cotton voile I'm using as both a lining and an interlining. All three are getting chucked in the washing machine and then the cottons will be dried in the dryer to shrink them as much as they will shrink. When the dress is complete, I'll be able to wash it in the washing machine and hang it to dry.

Once your fabric is dry and pressed, we can start to cut out our pattern pieces! Use this chart from the instructions to determine which pieces you'll need:

This dress has a lot of mix-and-match options, so you'll only need, for example, one of the two bodice fronts. The skirt lengths are all on one pattern pieces, but you can cut the skirt to the view you've chosen, the cut lines are marked on the skirt pattern pieces. You can cut out all the pattern pieces if you think you'll use them all eventually, or just the ones you need, and don't forget, if you made a muslin last week, and made a bunch of changes to it, don't use the original pattern piece! You may want to consider using your muslin, disassembled, as your pattern (as long as the pieces haven't been warped). I'm using my altered paper pattern pieces, since I clipped a lot into the seamlines of my muslin.

On the instructions sheet of your pattern, you'll see that there is a little chart showing how to lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric.

 Here is the layout for view A, the short view that I'm making. There are a lot of permutations shown here, but it's basically suggesting how to lay out your pattern pieces depending on fabric width and chosen size. The first set is for 45" wide fabric in small sizes, the second sew for 45" wide fabric in large sizes, and the second two are for small and large sizes on 60" wide fabric.

These cutting layouts can be a bit confusing so I'll try and walk through a few examples.

The top row (small sizes on 45" fabric) show two separate sections of fabric. On the left, the fabric is folded in half lengthwise (see where it says FOLD on the bottom, and both selvedges together at the top) so that the front skirt and front bodice can be cut on the fold. Other pattern pieces are fit around those two pieces, which are important because they need that fold. On the right, the fabric is laid flat (see, the word SELVAGE at top and bottom) because it's most efficient fabric-wise to cut the back and side front skirt panels individually instead of cutting both at once through a folded piece of fabric.

The third row (small sizes on 60") has a third option: rather than just folded or flat fabric, it's folded at an offset from the center. You can see that on the right; the diagram still has FOLD at the bottom, but it has a staggered top and some pattern pieces shown just on that one layer that sticks out.

I sometimes follow this, and sometimes do not. In this case, I have a lot of pretty wide, directional fabric and I'm doing my own thing. I think if you are a beginner to printed patterns, it's smart to follow the pattern layout--it should ensure that all of your pattern pieces fit onto the fabric allowance the pattern calls for! Pin your pattern pieces ensuring that they are on grain.

If your fabric is folded accurately, the pieces cut on the fold (front bodice and front skirt) will be on grain if they are on the fold.

For the other pieces, ensure that the grainline marking (it says GRAINLINE right on it) is parallel to the fold or selvedge (whichever is closest and easier to measure :). Here the grainline is just at the end of the ruler, and it is 5" from the fold all the way down its length, so you know it is parallel.

Once your pieces are all pinned down nicely, cut carefully around the lines that correspond with the size you've chosen!

Do the same for lining.

All your fabric is cut and it's time to move on to marking. This little chart on the instructions sheet shows all the markings under "notches and symbols" and some of these need to be marked by notching, and some by marking with a pencil.

Since you have your scissors handy from cutting out all your pieces, clip your notches--this means that wherever you see triangles on the seamline, clip a tiny bit into the seam allowance like so:

Here there are two triangles so I've made two little snips, just to the apex of the triangle.

Wherever you see a mark on your pattern, mark your pattern pieces in your preferred manner--I've always used a little fabric pencil and the pin method. Poke your pin directly through both layers of fabric exactly where the mark is:
 Then peel the fabric open and mark right where the pin pokes through.
I don't actually know if I learned this somewhere, or if I made it up, but it is described in my 1963 McCall's Sewing Book, so it's a legitimate way to do this, even if it feels to me like cheating. Finally, all my pattern pieces are cut in lining, interlining, and fashion fabric, and marked. Step one of prep is done, it's time to get out my sewing machine.

I need to attach my interlining to my fashion fabric. If you are making view D with the lace-overlay bodice, you'll be doing this too, but if you are using an opaque fabric this is unnecessary. What I'm doing is just basting (that's sewing with a long stitch length, either by hand or machine) the outer fabric to the interlining at a 1/2" seam allowance, so that we can treat the two layers of fabric as one going forward.  I'm using my walking foot, which is great for this type of thing:

And the longest stitch length my machine has:

This stabilizes lighter fabric and/or provides opacity to sheer fabrics such as mine. The only pieces I'm interlining are the front and back bodice and waistline pieces, for opacity, and the sleeve straps, for structure--I want the skirt to be more sheer, so no interlining there! Here's what the basting stitches look around the edge of the back shoulder:

If you aren't using an interlining, you'll want to staystitch your neckline and armscyes. This ensures the fabric doesn't stretch or warp as you handle it. Follow the instructions regarding direction of staystitching and use a basting stitch at a 1/2" seam allowance so it is invisible when you sew up the garment. It will look just the same as the picture above when you are done.

Next week we'll move on to construction and get this pile of flat pieces into three dimensions!

As always, feel free to comment below with any questions, or send me an email at hello@alliemjackson.com!


ps: this is the most boring week. haha

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