Thursday, February 15, 2007


One of the things I'm trying to work out for my current project is how to cut and mark fabric without using pins.

I have a couple reasons for this. First, some fabrics just don't take pinning well, and I want to learn a method for handling those.

Second, I want to keep my patterns in good shape and multiple pinnings do take their toll.

I've gone back and forth with using pins, using weights, and using a combination of the two.

Part of challenge is my cutting method and mat. I don't cut very well with scissors. I'm just not very good at it. I much prefer using a rotary cutter. I'm able to control that better and end up with much nicer lines. So, I use a self healing mat along with my rotary cutter to cut fabric.

The problem is that my mat is fairly small - usually smaller than the pieces I'm cutting. So I have to move the mat as I'm cutting. Pins handle this fairly well. Weights are trickier. On my initial attempts, the fabric would slip around at bit as I was moving things around if I did not put in at least a few pins to anchor things down.

I recently read a thread somewhere on PatternReview about using clips to anchor fabric instead of pins. I wish I could find the thread again, but I can't. But it did get me to thinking and I decided to try to use a combination of paperclips and weights to see if that would work.

First, I set the pattern down on the fabric and held it there with weights:

In case you're wondering, those are pieces of petrified wood that I'm using as weights.

Then, I cut along the bottom and sides as far as my mat let me. After that, I carefully papercliped the fabric and the pattern edges together. Then I slid my mat over and finished the rest of the cutting for that piece.

The fabric still slid up a bit as I moved the mat, but with the paper clips there, I was able to smooth it back out again. BTW, I tried this with fairly slippery fabric.

How did it turn out? There was at least one problem; the end points of the paper clips would sometimes catch on the fabric if I wasn't careful in removing them. It also seems like the fabric moved around too much in general.

The more things I try in my efforts to make cutting and marking more precise, the more I think that the ultimate solution will be to get a larger mat! But this little technique may tide me over for a while.


B.E. Sanderson said...

Way to use your smarts. I thought about using paperclips to mark lengths in my crochet work, so I don't have to go back and count rows over and over. I don't know if this would help you at all, but have you thought about those plastic coated paper clips? I mean, if the metal is causing any problems for you. Just a thought.

BTW, I really like your progress meter. =o)

Janimé said...

Ooooo! Plastic coated paper clips. Or even plastic paper clips. Or those triangular kind. Or maybe some really small binder clips.

I'll have to tinker more with this. I have a feeling that even when I get a larger cutting mat, this issue will still be an issue on occasion.

COS: You like that progress meter do you? ;)

.x.Helen.x. said...

I am yet to find anything better than pins to stop fabric slipping around. Maybe you could focus on preserving your patterns? If I think I'm going to use a particular pattern often, I dry-iron the pieces onto interfacing. This makes the pattern much more robust and able to handle multiple pins! But if you find anything better, let me know!

Janimé said...

The paperclips worked nearly as well as pins. I think ultimately, I will use a combination of techniques, depending on what I'm trying to do.

In this particular case, I'm still fiddling with the pattern for sizing, so I can't do anything to make it more permanent yet, and the pieces are getting used a lot. So I had to do something to cut down on the number of pinholes I was generating.

You can be sure I'll keep playing around with ideas until I find things that seem to work, and of course, I'll share them :)