Wednesday 21 March 2012

Tova Sew Along- Post 3: Cutting Out Part One

  This post covers basic cutting out and transferring paper pattern marks.  Part two covers more advanced stuff including simple variations like rounding the collar, altering the sleeve length  and making Tovas out of patterned, striped and plaid/check fabrics.   I think cutting out is best done in a single session so set yourself a couple of hours to get all your Tova pieces cut out in one go. These are my cutting tools of choice.  
Your fabric needs to be prewashed and pressed.  If you are using 44"/115cm wide fabric, fold your fabric in half so the selvedges meet and press along the fold so the fabric lies flat and the grain runs straight.   It is worth taking time to get this done really well, it will save time in the end.  It is easier for this pattern to place the fold on the right of the surface that you are working on as you can see in the picture below.   If you are cutting from wider fabric, I will cover layout of the pattern pieces in part 2.   My fabric pattern is directional so all my pattern pieces will need to be the same way up- if I put the back piece upside down, the print would be upside down on the top when it is finished.  If you are working with plain fabric or non directional pattern like spots, you could turn your pattern pieces round 180 degrees if you wanted to.  Jenny shows a layout sketch in the Tova instructions which is suitable for this width of fabric and I mainly followed that.  There will be variations according to the size of Tova pattern you are working with but for the main pieces like the front back and sleeves, the layout will be as her sketch.  If you look at all the pattern pieces in the picture, you can see they all have an arrow- this is for the grain of the fabric. There are times (see post two) when you can play around with this-e.g. cuffs could go across the grain for a variety of pattern but the main pieces must be along the grain arrows, in this pattern they are all on the straight grain.  Look at the sleeve cuff and the placket,-both narrow strips but the arrows are in different places so the cuffs lie horizontally and the placket vertically.  Both benefit from the extra stretch in the cross grain of the fabric by being placed like that,
You can see in the photo above that the front piece is lying right on the fold, the back piece needs to do the same.  I pin the pieces loosely to the fabric just to check they fit together correctly.  Then I pin them more carefully and line the grain up properly. To do this, use a tape measure or a quilt rule, measure from each end of the arrow to the selvedges- it should be the same distance for each.
After you have pinned and checked all your pieces you will have a choice on how you cut out.  You can cut carefully round each pinned section.  Pins can distort the paper so this is not always totally accurate.  I prefer to take the pins out and draw round the paper using Frixion pen which will disappear under the heat of an iron.  I then use a rotary cutter with the ruler always inside the line on the piece itself to cut usign the pen line as my cutting guide.  You could use weights like wing-nuts or metal washers, trace round and skip pins altogether.  Any tricky tight bits I cut with scissors, big and small.  After cutting I pin the fabric together again to keep everything in one place.  But before you cut, there are some vital marks to add!
 Luckily on this pattern, there are very few marks to transfer but there are some important ones that really need atention.  You will see a T mark on many of the pattern pieces.  These vary in position according to the Tova size but all sizes have them.  I highlight all the T marks in my size on the pattern pieces.  You can see my pink highlight below and another mark, the dot in the cirlce that I'll mention in a minute.  So back to the T- these are marks to help you match up the seams where the different pattern pieces will meet.  The easiest way to transfer them is to make them into notches on the edge of the pattern pieces.  Where you see a T add a triangle, the width of the T to the cutting line.
This is the same mark on another pattern piece, I have just moved the paper pattern back a little so you can see it more clearly.
 You need to use little scissors to cut these, they are fiddly but you will be so glad of them.  I used very sharp embroidery scissors.  You can cut them out roughly as you are cutting the pattern piece out and then neaten them afterwards if you prefer.  The triangle notch on pattern piece should go outwards, you can see this above the scissors in the pic below- the inward notch is what is left behind on the remaining fabric- below the scissors in the same pic.
Now the other pattern mark needs to be transferred- the dot in the circle on the front which marks where the front inset panel will fit.  I choose to use tailor's tacks are here as they are easy to remove and leave no residue.  I have a youtube tailor's tacks tutorial here.  
I fitted the sleeve close to the selvedges as it didn't need to go on the fold.
As the sleeve cuff and the plackets look the same but run in different direction, I kept the paper pinned to them after they have been cut out so I didn't muddle them up.
Pieces cut out, ready to sew.  This is how my first Tova ended up- just so you can get an idea where we are heading and how a quilting fabric looks as a Tova.  I altered the collar- and made it narrower and rounded.  I lengthened the sleeve and I took a few inches off the hem as well.  That is covered in part two of this post.  It is a great fit.  I made size small.  My chest ( complete with generously padded bra) measures 34" and I am a UK size 8-10, I think that is size 4 in USA and 36 in Europe.  I am shortish in the body so needed a shorter hem length to make this version look like a top or a tunic.
Visit part 2 for alterations and cutting striped, checked/plaid fabrics.
Questions will be answered in the comments thread, do feel free to chime in and help!
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  1. Thank you for doing this sew-along, Kerry! I've been looking for perfect fabric for it now! You look so gorgeous in the Tova!

  2. Dumb question- new to garment making :) Why do one of the T's triangle cut into the fabric and the other T triangle stick out from the fabric??? When do we do which?? Thanks!

    1. I have edited this to make it clearer Candice- it should stick out!

  3. So pretty... thanks for all the helpful advice. Still have to decide on fabric, but have bought the pattern so no turning back now. :-)

  4. i am excited kerry. i am still looking for fabric but i am anxious to start. i have to tape my pieces together...

  5. You are such a pretty lady and this top is perfect for your style! You look awesome!
    Love all your instructions and hints. This is such a nice pattern.

  6. Your top looks great. I have some fabric and I think this is exactly what I need to walk through the sewing process. It has been a long time since I have sewn a garmet. Thanks!

  7. You look great in the Tova and with my fabric choice I'm especially to see how well it looks.
    Thank you so much for the clear instructions. I'm not sure I'll be able to sew this weekend but I hope to cut everything out today.

  8. Great post! and I really REALLY love your top. Great use of the Echo fabric. Makes me wish I'd bought more of that print! I think the Tova might be a little advanced for me so I might buy the tank patten and try that first. I'm assuming that is the simpler option!


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