Rachel Skirt - Cutting Out Delicate Fabrics on the Bias

I am sharing an epic life saving (well sewing saving) tip on how I cut out delicate fabrics on the bias in relation to my latest sewing pattern The Rachel Bias Skirt.

This technique works wonders for cutting out on the straight grain too. I think of it as a perfectionists savour when it comes to cutting out those floaty, delicate materials that move all over the show. 

rachel bias skirt

I discovered this method when I was studying and had to hand cut out silk flounces and tiny rouleau to hand make button loops and straps. This trick saved my life! I honestly swear by this method and its the only way I will ever cut out any delicate fabrics. It's also the only way I cut out on the bias to ensure complete accuracy.

I have been meaning to write this post since I launched my recent sewing pattern The Rachel Bias Skirt - if you haven't already got a copy you can buy the pattern here

The reason I want to share this with you is because bias cut garments will sit super weird and pull in all sorts of ways if even the slightest bit off grain - I can confirm I have learnt this the hard way. 

The basic principle of this method is to lay your fabric in between two layers of paper. It sounds simple but there is a bit more to it then just making a paper/fabric sandwich.

Below I have created a small scale of the Rachel Bias Skirt to show you a step by step.

What You Will Need: 

  • Rachel Bias Skirt Pattern 
  • Plain Newsprint paper (not printed) or A3 sheets of paper.
    You can buy rolls or newsprint at office supply stores for super cheap, its also really good tracing paper!
  • Fabric - amount needed is in the instruction guide 
  • Masking tape or sellotape
  • Tools; Pencil, Fabric Scissors, Paper Scissors, Pins or weights, ruler.

How To:

1. Find a sturdy surface to lay up on it may be on your dining table or it could be on a wood or tile floor. 

2. To begin you need to check the paper you are using is slightly wider than your fabric width. If it's not wide enough tape some pieces together. 

If you are using newsprint roll out to the length you need twice and tape the paper together in the centre.

If you are using sheets of paper glue or tape them to be one large sheet as once you start to cut out its important for the paper to be stable.

Once you have the right size paper, tape it sparsely to the surface you are using making sure it is flat. You will need to draw a 90 degree line along the width and length of the paper to use as a taping guide for the next step. 

3. Next grab your fabric and check how the end is cut - you want to have a straight cut for your lay. If its not great try cutting it so it is as best it can be. 

Start by roughly laying your fabric flat onto the paper. Starting at the corner of both 90 degree lines begin to tape the fabric down by matching the selvage to the guideline and the cut edge to the other guideline. Continue this until all sides of the fabric are taped down and sitting as accurate as you can get it.

If you don't know what the selvage is, it is the length way of your fabric, that hasn't been cut, which you line the grain line up with. 

You want the fabric to be in place but not pulling so be careful of this when taping. Continue to tape the selvedge down on both sides of the fabric until you get to the end of your fabric length. 

4. Now you need to repeat step 1 and set up another layer of paper exactly as you have on the bottom for on top of your fabric.

Once set up carefully place the paper over your taped fabric and carefully tape down sparsely to the surface. 

5. Trace around your pattern pieces on the top layer of paper, making sure your grain line is parallel to the selvedge.
*Be careful when you are tracing your pieces that they are with in the fabric width not just on the paper.

This step is important for when you start to cut out.
You need to use pins or weights to hold the paper and fabric in place when you start to cut out your pattern pieces. Pinning through all three layers within the pencil marks is probably best but do what works best for you. 

6. Once you have all your pieces in place you can begin cutting. Be really careful and take your time to cut out.
What I like to do is start at one end and carefully pull the paper/tape off the surface little bits at a time and begin to cut through all layers along the marked lines. Continue to do this until your full garment is cut out.

You can then pull off the paper to reveal your fabric cut perfectly and on the correct grain. 

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I hope this helps ease some of your worry or fear of cutting out garments on the bias grain and helps you gain confidence to start using delicate fabrics. 

I used to hate using light weight or silky fabrics because I could never chalk my pieces accurately or cut them out right and it just became a hated project or a waste of money. I now use this method all the time.

Here is my mini Rachel skirt hanging up to show the beautiful bias drape. 

If you use this method please tag me in your progress shots, I love seeing your work and projects.  

Happy Sewing, Mak x 



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