A Simple Trick To Cut Patterned Fabric & Panels Perfectly Straight

Don’t you love it when you stumble across an amazingly simple solution that makes your sewing life so much easier? One thing I have struggled with when sewing with fabric or panels with a  directional pattern is getting it lined up perfectly straight as I cut out my pattern pieces. I found a trick this week that makes it so easy!

Cutting Straight Pattern Pieces

I was getting ready to cut out a Southwest peplum top (pattern here ) from this lovely Riley Blake anchor fabric, and the last thing I wanted was to have crooked lines of anchors on my shirt. The pieces for this top are all cut on the fold, so my goal was to make my fold perfectly straight so that the pattern would be lined up on both sides.

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I started by opening up the fabric and laying the pattern piece next to the edge so I could see exactly how much fabric I needed to fold over.

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I chose the line of anchors right next to my pattern piece and lined my 6″x 24″ ruler up with the print. If you don’t have a quilting ruler, another straight edge will work. It should be something that is at least as long as your pattern piece and that will slide out of your folded fabric easily.

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Remove the pattern piece and fold the fabric tightly over the ruler. You should now have a nice, sharp fold that is perfectly even with the fabric print.

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Carefully slide the ruler out and then place your pattern piece neatly along the folded edge. If you are cutting 2 of a piece (like a right and left) instead of cutting on the fold, place your piece so that the paper edge is lined up with the fold but not right on it.

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Cut out, and there you have it! A nice, straight pattern!

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This is also a really easy way to make sure that you have the pattern on a fabric panel centered. Start by laying your panel out and determining the horizontal center of the fabric. This panel is 14″ wide, so I put my ruler at 7″. I aligned one of the horizontal lines on the ruler with the text on the panel.

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Then fold the fabric tightly across the ruler and proceed the same as above.

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Perfect!

5 Responses

  1. More or less the same point I was making. I spend a lot of time trying to line up the print on th edge, not by pulling but by gently shifting. Kints also have a sort of surfact teniosn (not the right expression but you’ll probably understand) so when you try to move them they catch even on the smoothest of cutting surfaces. One of many reasons why personally I prefer making things with woven fabric!

  2. Good tips, but I have found a lot of the custom knit prints to be so very crooked across the grain. Bolting the knit fabric with stretch can pull it so far out of alignment and quite often sellers cut across fabric that is bolted crooked and to straighten the print you loose a lot of fabric.
    Knits on the fold are almost impossible to see the print underneath – to be able to see if the print is straight and lined up.
    Some paper patterns I have had to draw the pattern out full size (full pattern pieces, so no placing on the fold, make it easier to see where straightening has to be done) and it is still very hard to get everything on the fabric pattern straight left to right and up and down – so frustrating! Pulling fabric on the bias and keep adjusting helps though and after completing and washing and pressing, my garments usually look straight.

  3. Thank you – that’s a nice tip. I think the other thing, though, is to check the horizontal alighment also. It’s not so much a problem with woven fabric (unless it’s very cheap and not printed straight, or it’s loose weave). But it can be heart-breaking to cut a piece of knit fabric thinking you’ve nicely lined up the vertical centre, only to find out that, because of the stretchiness / slippery nature of knits fabrics, the horizontal pattern is a bit off. If you are trying to do some nice horizontal pattern matching on the side seams, you want to have a row of anchors exactly the same distance beneath each armhole. (As you have.) But your trick with the ruler won’t guarantee that unless you check that it’s lined up horizontally as well.

  4. I love this tip! It will work great when your pieces are much smaller and you need to fold the fabric too (baby items). I struggled with this recently and didn’t even think about using my roller tho keep the fold even. Thank you!

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