Well, first I need to say that I am just crawling out from under one of the most trying times at work.
I shall not go into it here but suffice to say that management errors have left our department with crippling amounts of overtime.
Hence the lapse in my best laid blogging plans.
Back to the topic at hand though.
The designer makes 99% of our fabric decisions, and although the cutters are sometimes asked their opinion on whether it is suitable or not, usually it arrives on our table and we work with it.
Many fabrics don't pose much of an issue. The easiest are plain fabrics without a nap or one direction design- think a good plain woolen cloth. You can top and tail the layout of your pattern pieces (this means you can turn a pattern piece upside down/top to bottom in the layout) taking advantage of every square inch of the cloth and being quite frugal in its use.
Up the ladder from the basic could be a cloth with a woven pattern in it- a symmetrical or balanced check or stripe. The challenge is to place your pattern on the cloth keeping in mind the centering of the garment on the woven pattern in the cloth, and matching the pattern where needed at centre front and back and sleeves to body. You can still top and tail the layout.
Another rung up the ladder might be velvet (or corduroy), a definite one way fabric. I remember as a teenager, cutting myself a pair of overalls in corduroy, and being completely stymied by the fact that one side of the body looked dark and the other side light. I knew nothing about "nap" and I don't think I ever finished them as I was so confused.
We often cut velvet "nap- up" for the stage because it usually reads as a richer colour than when cut nap down. You must cut your pieces all in one direction- you cannot turn a piece upside down to fit better on the layout because it will end up a different colour than the rest of the garment. You can turn a pattern piece over, only as long as up remains up. These fabrics often have a fair bit of wastage depending on the garment type.
Next up could be asymmetrical/unbalanced or one way printed or woven designs. These could be plaids, florals, uneven checks or uneven stripe combinations. These fabric designs cannot be "book matched" at the centre front or back. When they are folded in half, right sides together for cutting, the design in the fabric does not lay matched atop each other.
I have run into uneven or unbalanced cloth a couple of times this year. Twice with suitings and once with a velvet floral. I had no problem making the decision of how to cut the velvet but I started wondering about the options for the stripes.
Here is one of the striped fabrics:
It made me wonder about whether I should cut the jacket as a one way design or not. I could conceivably cut the yardage in half lengthwise, and turn one layer of the fabric to make it symmetrical. Hmmm....I didn't do that in the end, but it did make me wonder if doing so was a "thing" or a no- no.
Here is an example of an 18th Century style waistcoat in the floral velvet where you see the one way fabric in the cloth and how I have laid it out so the pattern continues uninterrupted at mid centre front. It requires enough fabric to do this and there are a lot of offcuts, which I used for the facings and such so as not to waste fabric.
Of course, it also takes a bit more time when cutting out cloth like this as you have to be quite careful to make sure that all your pattern pieces are oriented the same direction. The tricky bit is with pattern pieces like trouser backs and undersleeves. These pattern pieces are developed from the trouser front and top sleeve respectively. They "face the same way" when they are drafted.
In laying them out on the cloth you must make sure you flip the trouser underside pattern and the undersleeve to maintain the directional patterning at the side seam in trousers and of the sleeve.
that sounds complicated so here is a quick sketch of what I mean.
Okay, I think that is all I can muster up in the bad drawing department this evening!
It is certainly a lot to keep in mind while cutting things out!