Sewing Tip: Get More Mileage from your Fabric

Part of what I love about my new company is the interaction I have with customers. Yesterday I got chatting with Lillie. She ordered the last of one of my fabrics, and when we rolled it off the bolt, it turned out we came out 1/2 yard short. Ouch! I hate when that happens. So I called her to let her know, and we got talking about what she was going to use it for. I checked the pattern and she had enough even with the shortage, so she was fine. But I then started talking with her about layouts, because we all hate to come up short on fabric when we’re cutting out a great garment, right?

Well here’s a little secret that not too many people talk about. You can get away with less yardage than the pattern companies recommend. Sometimes a lot less. How? Simple. Use a single layer layout. By that, I mean, open your fabric out with the right side facing up, and cut each pattern piece twice, flipping the pattern piece over so you get the right/left sides.

Now, don’t go looking at me like I just sprouted horns. There are lots of good reasons to do this. First, you might not have as much fabric as the pattern envelope recommends. One example stands out in my mind. I wrote an article for Threads magazine called, “Pressing Matters”. I needed to make two versions of the same blouse for emphasis. One would be left unpressed during construction (the “Sad Blouse”) while I would press the other blouse at all stages of construction (the “Happy Blouse”). I called my vendor to get a brocade, which can look either fabulous or hideous depending on your technique. He had a perfect one, BUT, he only had 3 yards. The pattern envelope called for 2 1/8 yards of fabric for one blouse. So, since I wanted to make two blouses (total of 4.25 yards according to the envelope), I was coming up short by 1 1/4 yards. Well, damn the torpedos, right? I laid the pattern pieces out using a single layer layout, and I was just able to eke two blouses out of 3 yards of fabric! I did have to get a little creative and leave off the cuffs, but other than that, it was the same top, and it turned out great for my needs!

Another reason to do a single layer layout is to match patterns across seamlines. It gives you much more control, while saving you fabric. Couture garments are all cut one piece at a time.

So don’t be afraid to do a single layer and buy slightly less fabric. It takes some practice, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll find you can estimate yardage pretty accurately.

Happy Sewing!

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Gorgeous Fabrics

I own an online fabric store, The name says it all!

6 thoughts on “Sewing Tip: Get More Mileage from your Fabric”

  1. Hi!! I do the same!! Is there a type, though?

    ” he only had 3 yards. The pattern envelope called for 2 1/8 yards ”

    Do you mean the envelope wanted 4 1/8?

    1. Nope – that number is correct. There were three yards total. I was making 2 blouses, each of which called for 2 1/8 yards per blouse, so the total needed, according to the pattern envelope was 4 ¼ yards. I’ll change it to make it a little clearer. Thanks!

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