Start your sewing adventure with us.    Join Seamwork

Learn to Sew with Bo

12 Lessons taught by Meg

3,007 Seamwork members have watched this class.

Lesson 6: Cutting & Marking Fabric

Don’t be intimidated by all those markings on a pattern piece. Those symbols are just hints from the patternmaker that show you how to construct a garment! In this video, you’ll learn some tips for cutting and marking your fabric.


Now that you have some tips for choosing a pattern and fabric in your size, it’s time to prepare your fabric so you can start sewing. Here are some tips to help with cutting and marking.

Before we can cut out our fabric pieces we need to pretreat our yardage. A good rule of thumb is to wash and dry the yardage in the same manner as you intend to launder the finished garment. This will prevent shrinking once the garment is constructed and remove any sizing that the manufacturer may have put on the fabric.

When it’s time to cut out your pattern, refer to the cutting layouts in the instructions. This will help you lay your pieces on the fabric in the most efficient way, including folding the fabric so you can cut more than one piece at once. When you are first learning, follow these cutting layouts as close as you can. They will ensure your fabric is cut on grain. What does grain mean?

The lengthwise grainline on a fabric runs parallel to the two edges, also called the selvage. In general, you’ll want to line up the grainline marking on your pattern piece—usually noted with two arrows on the ends of the line—to the grainline on your fabric. The reason for this is because it will help your fabric hang on your body correctly. It won’t twist or warp as you wear it. You can find the grainline by ensuring the selvages run parallel to each other and measuring from the selvage to the grainline marking on your pattern piece. Use your clear ruler to do this. When you learn more about sewing, you’ll learn how to work with the crosswise grain and the bias. But it’s a big topic, so don’t get overwhelmed right now.

When you follow the cutting layout and place all of your pieces on your fabric, the individual pattern pieces will take you through the rest of the process. On each piece you’ll find how many pieces you need to cut out along with any markings you need to transfer to your fabric. These markings will help you as you sew. You’ll see markings for things like buttonholes, pocket placements, and any other notes the pattern maker want you to know about construction. As you spend more time with sewing patterns, you’ll become more familiar with these markings.
On the Bo pattern you’ll find:
Notches— which you will line up when you sew pieces together
Circles to help you match the cuff to the sleeve
The grainline
Not too bad!

Remember all those tools we talked about earlier, the fabric shears and rotary cutter? The pins and pattern weights? It’s time to think about your cutting style. Are you team rotary or shears? You might find a rotary cutter and pattern weights are helpful for cutting out knits and pins and shears are nice for woven fabrics, but I actually use a rotary cutter almost exclusively. Try all combinations and see what you like best for your fabric. Same with marking —I like chalk, you might like pens. The only rule is to transfer ALL pattern markings to your fabric - don’t skip this step, but have fun with the rest!

Alright, before we get started sewing the Bo top, we’re just going to talk about one more thing, a few basics for garment construction.

Learn to Sew with Bo

Here’s what you’ll need for this class:

  • Bo top pattern

  • Your sewing toolkit (we’ll show you how to make one in the videos)

  • Fabric

  • Your pressing tools (we’ll show you what you need)

  • Bias tape


Work alongside other sewists by participating in the Seamwork community. Ask and answer questions, share your progress, get inspired by real-life sewists, and post your finished projects.

Join Seamwork