When you're cutting out your pattern, it seems like a long and boring task that doesn't equal much in the long run, but the opposite is actually true. A successful project starts with good cutting! Every little bit that you're off in your cutting can all add up together and suddenly your seams and pieces don't line up or fit together. Or worse yet, your garment might not fit you anymore! Here are a few quick tips to ensure good cutting and a quality garment.
When cutting out your paper pattern pieces, make sure you're using your paper scissors and not your fabric shears. Your fabric scissors will dull quickly if you use them on paper and that will result in more frequent sharpening. Best to designate a specific pair of lesser quality scissors in your sewing room to use just for paper.
Once you've decided on the size you want to make from the pattern, you will cut around the lines that are designated for that size. But it's a great idea to leave the entire line for your size in tact, that way when you go to make it next time, you won't question if you did some creative editing since you'll be able to see the entire line, informing you of what size you cut and made. Just be sure to cut right up to the line and not leave any extra, as you want to make sure your fabric pieces are the exact size of the pattern, without any extra paper around the shape.
Most pattern companies write the text on the pattern pieces with the top of the pattern piece as the "head" and the bottom as the "hem" when reading the words on the pattern pieces. So when you pin your pattern to your fabric, keep in mind the direction of the print on your fabric, so that the print is going from "head" to "hem" in the same direction on every piece of your garment. If you're unsure of which is which, many companies label the waist seam and hem right on the pattern piece.
This is equally important when cutting a fabric with a nap or pile, like corduroy or velvet, where you would want the texture of the fabric going in the same direction on each piece so that the texture is consistent on your garment.
Being able to see where you are cutting is obviously a key element in cutting well, but not everyone cuts the same. Some sewers cut more correctly with the scissors on the left of the pattern, while others cut more correctly with the scissors on the right on the pattern. If you are having trouble, try switching to the other side and see if your skills improve!
Lastly, if you are cutting close to the edge of the fabric, I always cut with the pattern on my right so that I can hold the little bit of fabric in my left hand. This keeps the fabric tight and in place for a clean cut. Of course, if you are left handed, you would want to hold the extra fabric with your right hand while you cut with your left.
Just remember that each step leads to the next, so by cutting well you are setting yourself up for a quality garment from the very beginning!