This section covers a few of the techniques that are useful for many of the manipulations in this book including how to use freezer paper to create templates, how to cut on the bias and other specialist methods of working with fabrics.
Woven fabrics are made with vertical warp threads and horizontal weft threads, which run from selvedge edge to selvedge edge. The lines of these threads are known as the straight grain. The true bias runs at a 45-degree angle to the straight grain. Woven fabric is considerably stretchier on the bias and easily pulls out of shape. Fabric cut on the true bias will fray considerably less than straight grain cut and some fabrics will not fray at all on the bias. Bias-cut fabrics will also take a curve, sew into curved shapes and mould to fit curves using steam pressing.
To cut bias strips from straight grain fabric, fold the fabric so the warp and weft threads line up and you have a neat diagonal fold. Press the fold and unfold. Mark the width of strips required using the fold line as one edge. Once cut, be careful not to stretch the bias out too much by supporting the fabric. You can purposely stretch the bias out (particularly in floppy fabrics like chiffon) by pulling the strip along its length and ironing it out.
Freezer paper templates
Freezer or waxed paper can be used to make templates that are ironed onto the fabric temporarily. Iron-on templates can be used to cut out precise shapes, as templates for fluffy fabrics such as felt which cannot be easily drawn on, and to press over for Appliqué. There are three different methods.
Fold over templates
This technique is used for creating templates for Appliqué where you fold over the raw edges to the back.
Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly larger than the motif and draw the motif on the paper side; cut out. Place the freezer paper wax-side down onto the reverse of the fabric. Press with a warm iron until the paper has stuck. Cut the fabric out around the motif allowing for a 5mm–1cm (¼in–3⁄₈in) seam allowance. Leave the template in place and press the edges over. Tack (baste) the seam allowances in place if required.
Raw edge motif
This technique works well for cutting very precise shapes out of particularly thick or fluffy fabrics such as wool felt. Use fine, sharp embroidery scissors to cut out.
Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly larger than the motif and draw on the paper side. Cut the motif out. Place the freezer paper wax-side down onto the reverse of the fabric. Press with a warm iron until it has stuck.
Cut around the motif without a seam allowance, following the outline closely. Remove the paper only when you are ready to apply the motif – leaving it on prevents the motif from stretching or fraying before use.
Cut through paper
Cutting through both paper and fabric works best on lighter fabrics as it is hard to get a precise edge when working on thick felt.
Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly larger than the motif and draw on the paper side. DO NOT cut the motif out. Place the freezer paper waxside down onto the reverse of the fabric. Press with a warm iron until the paper has stuck. Cut around the drawn line, through both paper and fabric. Remove the paper when you are ready to apply the motif.
Clipping and notching curves
Curved seams must be shaped to make them lie flat when ironed. Inward curves should be clipped so the fabric can spread out. Outward curves need to have little V-shaped notches cut into them. Use small, sharp scissors to cut into the seam allowance: do not cut too close to the stitching or the seam may tear.
150 CREATIVE Sewing Techniques