Slippery fabrics like silk charmeuse and silk chiffon can be very difficult to cut. This becomes all the more important with the increased emphasis on perfection and a fine finish. Also with infinite variety of fabrics available, cutting techniques differ for different materials. Elongation, strength, bending and rigidity of a material are some factors which affect the cutting.
The knife blade, elastic properties of fibers and air permeability also have significant influences on the quality of cutting and pattern pieces.
A simple tool to cut fabrics easily is by using an underlay. An underlay is a piece of paper that is placed below the fabric you cut. Something as simple as brown paper can be used as an underlay. An underlay prevents the fabric from shifting and going off grain.
The paper needs to be wide enough as the table and of course the fabric which you will cut. An added advantage is that you keep a record of what you have cut which can also be used in future.
While using an underlay, It becomes imperative that you cut along the straight grain. A G-thru ruler or a T-square can be used to make a straight line along the grains. The grains can be revealed simply by tearing, as in the case of chiffon or by pulling a thread all the way as in charmeuse.
It goes without saying that you would have to use weight to hold the fabric along the lines you have marked. Having established a straight grain, you need to lay out the fabric absolutely smoothly. Use a ruler to clear out all bumps. Use weight to hold the fabric and the underlay in place.
Now place the pattern on the fabric and hold it in place using weights. Also ensure that the weights are not too close to the edge of the pattern as this will not get you a clean edge.
I strongly recommend that you do not use pins to hold the fabric as this will move the fabric and disturb the layout. You should also not cut on the fold while using an underlay as there is serious risk of going off grain.
All in all, an underlay, if used well can make work much easy and lend a fine finish to the end product.
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