Apronalong – Economical Cutting Out

I’m sure some of you are making weekend plans. Maybe one of your chosen tasks is to cut out your pattern pieces for the Apronalong. Well, fear not! I’m here to guide you through this terrifying (easy) task – and save you some fabric along the way.

If you’ve cut out your paper pattern pieces, you’ll need to iron them. Otherwise, you’ll be working with crumpled abominations like this:

I keep my iron on the wool setting when pressing paper. You definitely don’t want your iron at full heat, or you’ll scorch the paper! Question to the scientists out there: why do paper pattern pieces become full of static when you iron them?

You’ll also need to press your pre-washed fabric. Fold it right sides together, with selvedges meeting:

Now, aren’t you feeling organised and in control already? It’s a great feeling! Take everything over to your cutting mat or cutting out area – which I know for some of you will be the floor. It was for me, until my aged knees kept protesting. I invested in a table top cutting mat and rotary cutter from Ebay and have never looked back.

Now, the apron pattern pieces really aren’t that big. The largest piece (piece 12) is cut on the fold, which in theory means placing it against the fold I’ve just pressed. But that leaves acres of wastage, that could be saved:

My answer is this. Open up your fabric again and fold one selvedge in by 17.5 inches. Be careful to ensure that your newly folded fabric is still on grain ie that the selvedge is folded in by precisely 17.5 inches the complete length of the fabric. Don’t rely on your raw, cut edges for accurate placement because they won’t be accurate. Look!

All Over The Place

But look at this newly placed pattern piece. See how much fabric you’ll have left over for making your own apron bias binding, or for other projects!

On this folded section, you’ll also be able to cut out two of the tie ends and two of the front waistband (pieces 14 & 15).

Top Tip For Tie Ends! Because this piece is one long rectangle, I fold it in half and place it against the fold for ease of cutting out. Remember, again, you need to cut out two of these.

My pocket pieces (10 & 11) are cut out of a tiny scrap of fabric. So tiny that I cut some pieces out on the cross grain, as below. You might need to do the same if you’re using up scraps. As long as your fabric is fairly stable, cutting out on the cross grain is no biggie.

One challenge with these smaller pattern pieces, is that the pins really do ‘pinch’ and distort the paper – you can see this above. Would pattern weights be better suited, does anyone think? And what would you use as a pattern weight on something so small?

All I had left to do was cut out piece 13, the lower section, from my third fabric. We’re all done! At a later stage, we’ll get our cutting mat back out to make our fashion fabric bias binding. But for now, you can put your cutting implements away. I like to store my cut out fabric with something weighing them down (see the first photograph) until I’m ready to re-engage.

Next up – tailor’s tacks!

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23 Responses to Apronalong – Economical Cutting Out

  1. annabelvita says:

    I use pebbles as pattern weights. I selected a load of different sizes so that some would work for small pieces like this. (You can see them here http://annabelvita.com/2012/09/21/river-rock-pattern-weights) The smaller ones are not super heavy, but enough to stabilise things, possibly with the help of your spare hand.

  2. Ha, I was about to say the same thing – pebbles and small stones. I also read on another blog that somebody made their own – basically, a cube filled with dried beans. I figured you could probably also cut a small circle of fabric (less faffy than cutting the base for a cube), stick in some dried beans, and tie it up – and you could make them as small as necessary. I find anything that’s too high gets in the way of the rotary cutter, so bottles only work to a limited extent. And certainly not for small pieces. And if it’s very small, you might as well just use a pebble 🙂

  3. Joanne says:

    Hey Karen – great start to the sewalong! I was full of good intentions for this but I’ve been sidetracked – I’ll come back to it! Agree it’s tough to keep smaller pattern pieces from becoming distorted when pinning. Often I’ll just slip a pin in and leave it there, rather than forcing it through the fabric a second time. It sort of anchors the piece without pulling at it.

  4. sosewlovely says:

    Great post! I normally used silk pins with a smaller glass head when pinning. I think the round pin heads are causing the distortion. Alternatively, headless dressmaker’s pins would work as well!

  5. sewbusylizzy says:

    Nerding out… I would guess the static electricity is caused by ironing with a dry iron. Low humidity causes static electricity in paper… I think…
    I’m waiting for my apron pattern to arrive in the mail 🙂

      • The geek in me wandered off and read about this! It is indeed the humidity! Dry ironing must dry out the paper further.
        One of the articles I read reminded me of the children’s game where you rub a balloon and pick up little bits of paper. That can only happen if paper has an electrical charge, and so ironing (reducing the humidity) just increases the charge…

  6. I love this post! My grandmother taught me to sew, and she was the QUEEN of making sure she didn’t waste an inch of fabric . . . and then using those scraps for another project. So inspiring . . . thank you! 🙂

    • your granny and mine must have been related!! LOL I never met mine, but the stories are legend of her thrift with regard to adjusting layouts for maximum benefit and minimum waste fabric. And, yes, no fabric gets tossed in this family either. There’s always some other use for them. (Hence my joy at inheriting someone else’s scrap bag.)

  7. Roobeedoo says:

    You are making me want to sew an apron! I don’t NEED an apron! 😉

  8. Dorothy says:

    For the fabric edge not lining up – if it is a fairly firmly woven cotton without a twill weave, you can make about a one inch snip near the selvedge and perpendicular to it, then quickly and firmly pull either side of the snip to tear across the fabric. The cotton should tear neatly along the crosswise grain, and that makes it easier to line up the fold. You might have to repress that edge to flatten it.

  9. Wendy says:

    I don’t do any pinning for cutting out my patterns since I took a trip to my local hardware store and bought about a dozen large metal washers. These are perfect for holding pattern paper down securely while you zip around with the scissors or rotary cutter.

    • That’s a great idea but my suspicion is that they must actually be very large washers? I tried that (always looking for the easy option) but there wasn’t enough weight to hold anything, alas, even if I piled them up on each other (which, as you can imagine, started to create other problems).

  10. MrsC says:

    Don’t pin it or weight it down – pop a sheet of tailors carbon underneath and draw around it. The shape is traced onto the fabric. Works a treat!

  11. Diane says:

    Karen, you’re really inspiring me here with the lovely fabric. But I am wimping out of the Apronalong. I’m having enough difficulty with my first ever project and it’s just a simple A-line skirt. Will be watching with interest and willing you all along.

  12. Tez says:

    I use saucers, mugs and tins for pattern weights, and for long, skinny pieces I like a pair of scissors – they’re generally heavy enough to hold the paper in place.

  13. Tania says:

    I use washers as pattern weights – they’re brilliant because they don’t get in the way and are easy to move around but are heavy enough to hold the tissue where I need it. Mine are 4cm in diameter and they only cost 99p for 10 from my local pound shop. I use rubber ‘O’ ring washers as well for markers when knitting – they were 99p for loads. Goes to show it pays to shop around for stuff!

  14. I’ve cut out my fabric pieces for my apron (and gone ahead and made my tailor’s tacks). I’m looking forward to learning how to sew around scallops and how to make your own bias binding 🙂

  15. Kata. says:

    Thank you for this post! My stomach always turns when I see pattern pieces thrown in the middle of the fabric – not only expensive but wasteful as well.

  16. Taja says:


    My brain was mush on the day I originally read your post–recovering from pneumonia seems to be hard work these days! *rolleyes*

    For the small pattern pieces, trace them onto oaktag (manilla file folders will work). Then trace the pieces onto the fabric with tailor’s chalk or disappearing/removable ink fabric pen or pencil. Be sure to cut inside the traced lines.

    Cardboard doesn’t work well–it’s too soft.

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