It's gonna be May!

elevation hoodie sew-along: cutting and marking our fabric

Can you believe it? No sooner did we finish our last sew-along, when BOOM, I’m down with another! Because for May – spoiler alert! – we are making up a lovely, scrumptious hoodie!

It's gonna be May!
Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along
Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: May 2016

Pattern Testing
OK, enough swag. Time to get stitching!

As you may remember from our supplies post, we’re working with midweight knits with 35% stretch and good recovery. This sew-along will be performed on a lock-stitch machine (read: a “regular sewing machine”), although those who serge are welcome to do so! This is such a great project for those new to knits! If that’s you then emember, I’ve written tons of knit tutorials if you want to skim those before starting!

So first, we need to print out our pattern! I like to get the “copy shop” style – wide-format (you can email Terra and ask for this version, if you’ve purchased the pattern online). A wide-format verison is becoming more common for both indie and large-scale pattern companies, and I applaud this. Otherwise, if I buy a letter-size PDF I will “tape” the pattern together in Photoshop, which usually takes about ten minutes, then print the pattern.

Why do I do this? Well, lots of reasons. For one, I dislike the time it takes to tape together copy paper sheets. I also prefer all my copy shop style because I store all my patterns in rolls, suspended from the ceiling of my sewing studio and labeled – but that’s a story for another time!

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric
Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric
Regardless of whether you use a letter-size pattern or a wide-format pattern, I always measure the test square before I proceed. So far I’ve never had a problem, but I always double-check first. I don’t want to discover an error later in the process!

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric
The pattern has a wonderful layout diagram, which cannot really be improved upon. This pattern, being a colorblocked option, has the opportunity for a great deal of mixing and matching colors. Note that the piece for the drawstring is not included in the layout diagram, so don’t forget to cut it.

If you look at the layout diagram below, you can see it demonstrates a general rule of cutting with knits: the girth of the pattern pieces (hood, cuffs, body, etc) lines up across the grain such that the garment stretches girth-wise, not length-wise. This isn’t always true – but darn near!

The only change I made to the garment’s pattern pieces was to add some width to my bottom band. If you are using self-fabric, not ribbing, you might want some extra width to play with later.

In addition, you might also want to add a larger seam allowance to the cuff pieces, if you are sewing a thumbhole cuff. I like to add another 3/8″, for a total seam allowance of 3/4″. You will see why, in our last post when we construct the cuffs.
Elevation Hoodie: Layout

And now – some cutting and marking tips that will help you a bit!

In general for sleeves I like to cut, then mark the front part of the sleeve or armscye, with a safety pin (on the right-side of the fabric). Shown below: the main body for the hoodie’s sleeve. The pattern itself is marked with a safety pin for the front of the sleeve; I will also be marking the fabric pattern pieces similarly:

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric
I will likewise mark the front body pieces with safety pins. It only takes a moment, but makes the construction go faster, with less chance for errors. Ever sewn in a sleeve backwards? I have? Only about a thousand times!

Next, it’s time to mark those pocket “dots” on the front of the hoodie. I like to use thread-marks for much of my marking, and this is no exception. You can see the top pocket “dot” under my ruler, in the middle of the photo below. Just below that, you see a needle with a scrap of green thread, for marking. After the piece is entirely cut, I drive the needle straight through the paper and through both layers, pull it through, then cut the tail, leaving a long length. I repeat, with the other pocket dot. Then I carefully pull the paper piece away from the fabric, making sure I don’t remove the thread-mark. I then snip the thread between the layers such that each side has an ample thread mark, and pull the thread until there is an equal amount of tail on both sides of the fabric.

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric

More thread-marking. Because it’s fun! Here I’m marking all the inset corners of the “chevron” pieces of the sleeve, front, and back pieces – because this will help me line up a perfect point, later.

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric

And finally, I always like to mark the center line, on the raw edge of the garment’s neckline and hem, for both the front and back of garment. This helps me line up collars, bands, hoods – that sort of thing. You can use chalk, wax paper tracing, thread-marking, or just make a snip, as I did here. I cut about 1/8″ to 3/16″:

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric
So by way of demonstration here is my “B” color, for the sleeve. You can see why I mark with a safety pin; it would be easy to sew this piece in backwards. You can see also see my thread-mark on the inner corner of the chevron:

Elevation Hoodie Sew-Along: Cutting & Marking Our Fabric

You will also want to mark your eyelet points on the hood, and trace the hood hem (along the face of the hood) with either chalk, wax paper tracing, or a washable marker. We can also mark our thumbhole notches (if we’re using a thumbhole version) using the same methods. You can trace the little “windows” of our pocket pieces using a regular ol’ pen (unless you’re using a thin or sheer fabric) if you want a bolder line – or use the chalk, wax paper, or washable marker. In any case, the windowpane will be hidden in the finished project.

And we’re set! At the point I am done cutting, I like to recycle my paper scraps, fold my fabrics back up (but keep them out on the table in case I need to use more), and make sure to thread my machine(s). Waking up to a clean studio with a project ready-to-go is absolutely fabulous!

We’ll be back in a few days to start stitching! After the last sew-along, this is a welcome relief for me. I am starting another Elevation in just a few days, and so if you have any questions about construction, let me know. I can use that hoodie to take more pictures, if you need them!

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