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July 25

Quick Tip: Marking fabric

First of all, thanks everyone for leaving me such sweet comments about my newly-cleaned fabric.  I really hope you also find some use with the stain removal formula, but also hope you never need to.  :)

As you saw on Monday’s post, I’m working on the McCall’s 4003 shirt dress pattern.  Having never worked with a hem-detail fabric design, I’m finding that there are new things to consider, namely the length of my skirt and hem placement.

I’m a shortie, and as a result I usually hack off at least 6″ from the hems of my skirts & dresses.  I try to save fabric and do this before cutting it, but for the McCall’s 4003 I went and left around 2 inches of extra length at the hem.  Unfortunately, what this now means is that if i need to shorten the hem once the dress is constructed, I won’t be able to without losing some of the fancy hem pattern! *Aaaack!*

Before I finish my short story (& tell you my nifty tip), I need to talk about the design of the skirt piece itself.  The skirt portion of this dress is constructed of 4 very large rectangles.  At the top of each skirt section, there are 5-6 pleats for the waist shaping.

Putting all of these pieces together:  Since I’m undecided about the final hem length, I needed to find a solution to mark the top of the pleats that would not be permanent yet enable me to finish them in a way that I can alter them, if needed, later down the line.

The solution:  Marking the pleats, on the outside without leaving a mark.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?!  And no… I’m not using disappearing ink.

For pleats, to get them to fold the correct way, I’ve always found that it’s easier to mark them from the right side of the fabric instead of from the wrong side.  But you really don’t want to leave permanent markings on the fabric.

What I’ve done in the past is to make little *snips* at the top of the fabric piece to denote where to make the pleat and where the fold lines are.  But since I may end up hacking off the top of this skirt piece (due to the hem length), I needed to extend this mark further down the fabric without leaving a mark.

Marking Fabric Without Leaving a Permanent Mark

I marked my fabric using a my pattern tracing wheel without the carbon paper.  I have two thin layers of fabric: one a light-weight cotton fashion fabric and the second a thin cotton batiste, as underlining.  To mark the pleats, I held my clear ruler perpendicular to the top of the skirt, and drew a line using my tracing wheel, lengthwise down the skirt for around 4 inches.

The wheel leaves nice, thin lines that I could pick up and fold to make the pleats.

The two outer lines fold to meet the center line, similar to a box-pleat.  You can see the lines can’t you?!  :)

One side pinned to the center line:

I kept folding and pinning all the way across the fabric panel.

Since this method is not permanent, you don’ want to work too much at one time and loose your markings.  I only marked thee lines at a time, pinned them, and then marked three more lines, etc.

From here, I’ll be basting them in place with some silk thread so I can remove the pins.

Once I know where I want to place my final hem, I’ll cut the fabric from the top of the skirt piece, through all of the basted pleats.  And from there I’ll take my skirt to the sewing machine to baste them in place along the top before stitching the completed skirt to the bodice of the dress.

I’m not certain if any of you have come up with this handy trick on your own, but I’m sooo going to be doing this more in the future for lots of different things (darts, tucks, etc) assuming that the fabric type I use will ‘hold’ the markings.

Hope you like my quick tip & happy sewing!

  1. Paunnet / Jul 25 2012

    Great tip, thanks Liz!

  2. Clare S / Jul 25 2012

    Very clever tip! Thanks, Liz :)

  3. Ginger / Jul 25 2012

    Great idea! I’ll have to try that! Thanks, Liz!

  4. Meg / Jul 25 2012

    You’re brilliant!! This is definitely a tip I will be using in the future :)

  5. Sam / Jul 25 2012

    What a great tip! I must get a pattern tracing wheel now.

    By the way, I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it!

    • Liz / Jul 25 2012

      Yay! Welcome to my blog. I’m tickled that you love it.

      P.S. I stopped by yours today and will be visiting often. :)

  6. Qui Pardue / Jul 25 2012

    the pleats are looking quite lovely already, can’t wait to see the rest!! :)

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