Pt 4 - Making a master pattern, seam options and cutting your fabric...

Pt 4 - Making a master pattern, seam options and cutting your fabric...

While perfecting your muslin is probably one of the most important stages of a great garment,  making a master pattern is not far behind.

Using your muslin as a pattern to cut out your fashion fabric can cause inaccuracies as fabric grainlines stretch and distort over time.

But by transferring all your new seam lines,  markings, notches  and notes to paper,  you are recreating a stable permanent pattern which can be used time and time again.     


Today's post includes: 

Removing or leaving seam allowances?

Final muslins?

Making a half pattern?

Making a full pattern?

Seam options

Adding seam allowances to your pattern

Cutting your fashion fabric    

Working with silk



As I sew mostly with Marfy patterns and they come without seam allowances , I tend to cut mine off every pattern I use for consistency.

But if  you find it easier to work with the seams included, and generally do so , just make a note on the paper when you transfer the pattern over that they are included and what size they are.



If you are removing your seam allowances , cut alongside your new fitting lines to remove all the excess fabric.

Check before you take them apart that you have marked  your muslin front with your gathering start lines and end lines and any increase or decrease you have made to the bodice or hemline..

and for your back  bodice,  your dart lines/ slash length if you are using this method or the slash depth if you are binding/hemming it......also note again any increases/decreases from your final fitting.

Also - are you going to use elastic at the hem?  You might want to consider adding another inch or so to your hem, depending on the size of elastic you will use and the final width of your casing... Its always better to build in extra  and remove should it be unnecessary.

( btw don't discard your muslin once you have transferred the information, I store mine with my paper patterns to cross reference should a issue arise)



If you are one of the (very) lucky few with a perfectly symmetrical body  then you can simply fold your bodice muslin in half and transfer your new lines directly to your paper (I've inc seam allowances on this one)

 I'm using pattern paper that I bought from Mood, which comes in 30yd rolls  but you can also buy it here  or here in different quantities.

Medical paper, butchers paper, construction rolls, or any other wide plain paper will work just as well..



And for all of us who don't have symmetrical bodies , its much more common to make a full pattern so both sides are treated individually.

I like to transfer my markings by sliding my carbon paper between the muslin and paper... as shown below..muslin/carbon/pattern paper.

You could also draw around your pattern marking the outer edge for the slash details and joining them after the muslin is removed or you can use tracing paper,  parchment paper or similar.


Do not cut around your paper pattern just yet.....we need to talk about seam's!



There are a few options for sewing this blouse together based on the lightweight fabrics suggested.

French seams, serged, pinked  or hand finished are some worth considering..

French seam - Pro's ... This is a really nice finish that encases the raw edges neatly into the seams  and works especially well with  lighter fabrics.  Con's -  Takes some practice especially on silk.

Machine sewn/Serged Pro's ... This method finishes the seams neatly and quickly.   Con's - A serged seam produces a very even line of close stitches, in a lightweight fabric this will alter the way a garment drapes as it creates a heavy ridge.

Machine sewn/pinked - Pro's.. Its quick and effective especially in a fabric that is stable and slow to unravel, pinking will finish them with a vintage flair.  Con's - The edges can buckle over time and take some pressing to control...some fabrics will begin to fray.

Machine sewn/Hand overcast Pro's...  As each stitch is machine sewn but hand finished,  this creates a looser softer feel which flows perfectly with a lighter fabric.  Con's - It takes a little patience and time!

Machine sewn hairline seam - Pro's...  Great for curves (I used on my armseye) and sheer fabrics, minimal seam to see.  Con's - Again takes some practice and patience, harder on slippery fabrics.

Sandra shared a link here.....thanks!    


This is a stage where you are ultimately relying on your fabric to make a decision in conjunction with your skill and it a heavy light to medium weight?  then French seams might be to bulky, fold your fabric a couple of times, how does it feel?

Are you using a synthetic silk? then French seams might be tricky for a beginner as synthetic fabrics  are usually harder to handle.

Is your fabric very drapey and light?  then serged is not the way to go...A small French hem, pinked or that lovely hand overcast finish would be better!

Spend a few minutes trying out different techniques to see which looks and feels the best.....and more importantly decide what you will enjoy sewing more.

(The first time I make a garment I always stick with techniques I am comfortable with, its my time to learn the pattern.  It should be fun not stressful )

*After making a couple of test garments, I have decided I am going to use French seams for my sides and shoulders, a narrow hem for my armseyes and a 1/2" casing for my hem. For my sleeved version I will use a handstitched gather and finish with a hand overcast*

However, I will also show you how to hand finish, bias binding, finish armseyes without facings, sew narrow silk hem's and elastic casings..

BUT for the purpose of this section you just need to decide on a seam so we can add the correct seam allowance to the paper pattern before cutting it out.



For the standard 5/8" just run your tape measure width ways along the finished pattern line marking  below it every few inches and then use a ruler to join your new seam allowance together.

 and cut your paper pattern out following this new line...



A couture seam is usually marked by using the seamless pattern as your guide.  You use it to trace your finished garment line and add rough large seam allowances when cutting out the fabric.

As you will not have a standard seam guide you have to mark your finished seams onto the garment when you trace, this can be done a number of ways, using chalk, carbon paper and/or thread basting, but generally in a simple silk blouse or dress, thread basting could be considered excessive!

So if this is your method of choice, just cut out your pattern without a seam allowance and we will talk about how to mark the fabric later in this post...



Marfy included a fabric layout in their pdf pattern which is most unusual!

If you are using a 5/8" or similar seam allowance and your fabric is 55" or wider, the above layout will work perfectly for you.

and if you are using a 5/8" or similar and your fabric is only 44" wide, try the single the layout above.

For a flat pattern, lay them out in full on either your 44" or 55" fabric,  lining up your selvedge with your grainline.

and for the couture version, lay your pattern out in full, line up grainlines  and cut out rough seams  (shown in the dotted lines) leaving at least 1" of fabric for seam allowance.

Use similar color carbon paper, chalk, soap slithers or pins to mark around your finished pattern lines not the seam lines.  Thread tracing would also be a option once you have carbon traced, but it might not be necessary in such a quick sew blouse!

 (Check before you use any of the above that they will not leave a mark once removed)



Sewing with silk takes a little more preperation but its really fairly easy when you've used it a few times. 

A good quality pure silk is always easier to handle than a synthetic mix, they are more stable, tend to be a little weightier and don't slip and slide as much.....

There are a lot of different weights and finishes, order swatches of as many as you can find and sew lines of stitching into them, cut them and join them...see which feels easier to handle..


When cutting silk,  a large flat surface, sharp scissors, weights  and silk or small sharp pins are all you should need.

Before you start check that your fabric has no "nap" by  running  a hand down one way and then back up the other, if your finish distorts make sure your pattern runs the same way as shown above on the guides....

and if you would like a little more help with your silk,  lay some tissue paper or similar  on the table under your fabric. The paper will "grip" it while you pin and cut, treat it as part of your fabric and cut through the paper too,  we will remove it later.

or try this or even this and if you do I want to know what you thought!!

(and Soie left a comment with this great tip: 
I like to use freezer paper to stabilize silk. I iron it very lightly to the fabric and cut. If the pattern piece is small, I trace it onto the paper beforehand. If large, I may trace it after ironing it to the silk. After cutting, the paper is easily removed. Microserrated shears make a big difference on silk. If I'm using the freezer paper method I use my regular shears.)

Pin your pattern if your silk pins leave no marks, if they do then use weights placed at least 2" into the pattern so you can cut easily.

To cut,, keep your silk flat to the table and your lower scissor in contact  at all times with the table, this will keep your grainlines as straight as possible and your fabric stable.

Cut roughly around your silk and then go back a second time to cut around the pattern... tight corners will be easier to reach with less fabric attached.  Move you around the silk, don't move the silk.

Once you have cut your fabric, start removing one pin and releasing any paper attached, replace that pin and move to the next one....until all the paper has been removed.

If you are making the dart with your slash, I found using pins was the easiest and most secure way to mark it before I removed it from the table.  

If you have cut out a single piece, mark your dart beginnings and then carefully fold down your pattern paper,  without shifting you silk, until you reach the dart leg, put a pin here.  Remove the paper completely and while keeping the silk secure with weights rejoin the dart legs and lines with chalk or similar.   Then carefully fold one edge over the over matching the dart up, and pin as shown below.

As soon as silk is lifted in the air, grainlines shift so make sure all marks, notches and guidelines are already in place,  the silk pinned well and your fabric is folded ready for a dart etc..

Below is my pinned and white chalk marked dart.. 

All of the carefully placed pins kept the dart, fold and grain from moving as I carried it to my sewing machine.

When sewing,  a small needle is kinder to silk, normally a 60/8 or a 70/10, and  while my machine sews well with a 2.5 stitch length some machines prefer a 2.0, with a looser tension...also  I generally use a Guttermann Polyester but some sewers swear by silk thread....

Also,  hold the tails of your thread behind the silk and pull them tight when you begin,  this will help stop the fabric from being pulled into your throat plate,  let go when your machine is feeding the fabric through without issue.  Go slowly,  silk is thin and  high speeds can punch it back into the throat plate...

of course sew lots and lots of  scraps before you start on your blouse and finally keep washing your hands, the oil's from your skin  can transfer over to your silk....especially if you are one of the lucky ones sewing in the summer right now :-)

I think thats it for today, nothing should take to long, there was just a lot to cover!  

Let me know if I missed anything...


So lets mix it up a little, as we have cut our fabric today and I have already covered the back slash in detail, go ahead and make that...

and also add two rows of 4.5 /5 basting stitches above your seam line to your front bodice - machine for traditional and hand sewn for couture - and on Wednesday let's sew our blouse together using all kinds of different methods, and make collars and sleeves. 

Leaving Friday for hems, closures and elastic.

That way for anyone working on theirs at the weekend, all the info will be available for you to finish up.


Wishing everyone a lovely day!


Blouse sew along Pt 5 - Construction, collars and sleeves...

Blouse sew along Pt 5 - Construction, collars and sleeves...

Marfy 1913 - the final blouse......

Marfy 1913 - the final blouse......