cutting fabric

Throwback Thursday: How to use the cut + spread technique to draft an A-line skirt


After a few days of Rushcutter pattern alterations, it is time to get back to our skirt blocks, as it is, after all, Throwback Thursday! So Welcome back to The Skirt Series! Now that the pattern is pretty much complete (we just need to create a waistband pattern - which I will cover in tomorrow's post) I think we should have a play around with our new pattern blocks.

Once you have a skirt block that fits you well, there is just so much that can be done with it, and over the next few weeks I plan to show you some of the techniques you will need to know to transform your block into a skirt. 

One of the techniques I use the most when I am flat pattern-making, is relocating darts. So I think that is a good place for us to start! Once you know how to do it, you will be able to use this technique on any pattern that has darts.

Cut and spread


So today, I will show you how to relocate the waist darts in the skirt block, to create an A-line skirt. 

1. To start, you will need your skirt block. I will demonstrate by showing the front pattern piece, but the principle is exactly the same for the back pattern piece.

2. Trace a copy of your skirt block, without seam allowance. 

3. Draw a line, parallel to the centre front, from the tip of the dart, down to the hemline. 


4. Starting at the hemline, cut along this line, until you are 1-2mm from the dart point.

5. Now focusing on the outside dart arm (the dart closest to the side seam), cut down from the waistline towards the dart point, once again stopping 1-2mm from the dart point. This will create a small 'hinge,' so that the two parts of your pattern remain attached. But you will be able to open and close your dart with ease.


6. Close the waist dart by rotating the pattern, until the cut dart arm sits on top of the inner dart arm.

7. When in position, tape (or glue) in place. You will see that, by closing the dart, you have opened up the hemline, giving the skirt an A-line shape.

Trace the pattern


8. Take a separate piece of pattern paper and use a weight to hold it in place on top of the pattern. Trace around the pattern. You will see that the waistline has become quite angular since removing the dart, so you will need to redraw it with a soft curve. You will also need to redraw the hem with a smooth curve.

9. Add pattern details, notches and repeat for the back pattern piece.


10. If you would like a more drastic A-line you can redraw the side seam as a straight line (this will remove any shaping around the waist). To complete the pattern, add seam allowance.

Want to give it a go yourself?

I have created a small scale version of my skirt block that you can download (just click the image above) so that you can have a play around, if you are short of time, paper or space. It is also great to have a small scale version of techniques for your reference, so that you can easily store them for reference. And there will be many more new techniques to come, so print a few copies!

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The Rushcutter Sew-along: Cutting your fabric


So it's finally time to cut out our Rushcutters!

If you are sewing a long with me, by this stage you should have gathered your supplies, picked your size,  printed your pattern, made a toile and made any necessary adjustments. Now that much of the hard work is done, it's time for the fun(ner) stuff!

Prepare your fabric

Grab you fabric (that you have pre-washed, dried and pressed) and lay it out on a flat surface. I won't judge you if your only flat surface is on the floor! I went years without a proper cutting table and I managed just fine - so use whatever space you can.

Cutting flat vs cutting on the fold

Generally speaking, most patterns ask you to fold your fabric lengthways, matching selvedge to selvedge, so that you can cut a piece once and get a pair. This is the most time efficient method (and what I included in the pattern's instructions), but I must say that I generally cut flat.

By cutting flat, you get much more control, which is especially good if you are using a placement print or matching a print or stripes.


The other bonus is that you use much less fabric. Above, I have shown the suggested lay plan for View A on 115cm (45in) wide fabric. By cutting flat, instead of on the fold, you could save almost 1 metre (the saving is not so big when using 150cm wide fabric - about 30cm). So if you are tight on fabric, or have a bit of extra time up your sleeve, then I recommend giving it a go. 

Pattern piece inventory


View A

Front - cut 1 on fold

Back - cut 1 pair

Side panel - cut 1 pair

Side pocket - cut 1 pair

Centre front panel - cut 1

Front hem facing - cut 1 on fold

Back hem facing - cut 1 on fold

View B

Front - cut 1 on fold

Back - cut 1 on fold

Side panel - cut 1 pair

Centre front panel - cut 1

Front upper bodice (size A and B only) - cut 1 pair

Back upper bodice (size A and B only) - cut 1 pair

Upper bodice (sizes C - K only) - cut 1 pair

In-seam pocket - cut 2 pairs


Waist sash - cut 1 pair

Cutting tips + suggestions

If you are using a heavy weight fabric, consider cutting your in-seam pockets (View B) in a lighter weight fabric. You could also consider a lighter fabric for the neckline / armhole binding.

You may also want to use consider adding interfacing to your hem facings - if you would like to add weight to the hem. 

Cutting your fabric

After working out what pattern pieces you require, cut loosely around the pattern pieces. This will make them much easier to handle, and give you more flexibility when working out the best cutting layout. 

If you are cutting on the fold, fold your fabric lengthways, with right sides together, matching your selvedges. You may notice that I cut my pattern with wrong sides together. This is because I was planning to make my dress with the wrong side of the fabric on the outsidem but changed my mind at the last minute!


1. Place your pattern on the fabric, and measure the distance between one end of the grainline and the selvedge. Hold this side in place with a weight or pin.

2. Measure the distance between the other end of the grainline and the selvedge, and pivot until it is the same distance as the first side. 


3. Use weights (or whatever you have got lying around) to hold the pattern in place, and use pins to hold in place. 

4. Cut around the edge of the pattern, being very careful to get as close to the line as possible.

Cutting notches


When the piece is cut, work your way around the pattern, cutting into each notch. The notches are 6mm - try not to cut them any longer as you may risk getting too close to the stitching line. Be careful to find them all - they really do help when making sure you are putting the correct pieces together!

Marking the dart point

There are a number of ways to mark the dart point, and the best option will depend on the fabric you are using.


1. If you are using something stable, or dark in colour, fabric chalk or fabric pen will work fine.

2. Mark the dart point on one side of the fabric, and then put a pin through the point so that it comes out the other side. Make sure the pin is nice and straight, and then mark the dart on the other side with chalk.


3. If your fabric is a little more delicate or prone to moving, use a needle and contrast thread to put one long stitch through both layers of fabric at the point of the dart. Tie a knot at wither end of the thread.

4. Open up the two pieces and cut the thread in between. Now you can tie a knot on either side so that the stitch remains in place.

Do you cut the old-school way like me? Or are you a rotary cutter kind of gal (or boy)?

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