Pattern Cutting – Morplan Pattern Paper

Thanks to a small but timely tax rebate I have been able to buy myself a big roll of pattern paper from Morplan.  Yes, I know you can use bank paper, lining paper, greaseproof paper, agricultural fleece, the rolls of paper used for examination tables in GP surgeries and yes, I guess I could also sellotape together all that scratchy, ‘Izal’ toilet paper that my mother has kept stockpiled in her airing cupboard since the early ’70s too but the point is it’s all a bit of a pain, isn’t it?  Also, it’s never quite big enough. 

If you’re getting creative and want to do your own pattern cutting there are a few things which you really can’t improvise or stint on, however indoctrinated you are by ‘Blue Peter’.

Pattern Cutting Essentials:

  • A proper grader’s square.  It doesn’t have to be  a Morplan “Pattern Master” or a Shoben “Fashion Curve” but it does need to be a decent size (50cm along the hypotenuse) and with a 45 degree angle marked across it for when marking an accurate bias line on pattern pieces.  Morplan sell them.
  • A flexible, transparent ruler marked in centimeters and millimeters across its surface.
  • Proper pattern cutting paper.  Preferably nice and thin – 40 or 45 gsm or thereabouts – and plain.  I know some people like the ‘dot & cross’ or the numbered paper but to me these markings are an annoying distraction and as the paper tends to be thicker too (around 60 gsm) make it harder still to see through and trace lines from pattern pieces placed underneath.
  • A proper, needle-spoked pattern tracing wheel.

That’s it, really.  A cutting mat is good, too, and a craft knife for cutting out the paper pattern pieces.  Not a rotary thing; just a normal, small craft knife.  I discovered this while I was at college: it is much quicker, and a great deal more accurate, to cut with a knife than with scissors.  It’s just like tracing a line with your finger along the line you have already drawn and is much easier to handle than using scissors on such a large and unwieldy piece of paper.

Pattern notchers and a pattern drill are nice, additional extras if you can get them at a decent price.  If not, just use your craft knife and wait for the people who drop out of or graduate from fashion college to put theirs on e-bay.

I’m really pleased that my paper is here – I finally feel I can be properly creative…and free from the guilt at taking paper from the roll I bought at Ikea for the baby to paint and scribble on!

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Morplan Notchers

Oh how I longed for my own pair of notchers.  Right from when I started my fashion qualifications in 1983.  Right the way through my degree course.  But, as all things in the student world are ultimately balanced against how much of a night out could be bought for the same money, the notchers repeatedly lost and I gained, in their place, countless nights out and a bunch of friends I count on as such to this very day so I can’t say it was a bad trade-off.

For those of you unfamiliar with notchers, they are typically available in three cutting widths; 1mm, 2mm or 3mm and they do exactly what the name suggests – cut a notch.  They are used in pattern making and block making and are used to create a notch in the edge of the pattern or block which corresponds to an important point which will, on the paper pattern piece be marked with a pencil mark made through the notch which mark will, in turn, be notched and, on the fabric, snipped through to mark the sewing line, the balance marks on the sleevehead/armhole, the outside extremeties of darts and anything else that needs to be marked on to the fabric.

Occasionally I would visit the Morplan website just on the off chance that they had dipped within budget and even e-bay seemed to be stalked by the pattern-savvy so no joy there either.  Then finally, a few days ago providence smiled on me as a “Buy It Now” arose at £5 for a beautiful pair of notchers.  I’m not sure whether they’re the standard or the deluxe ones and nor do I really care – I have my notchers!

They arrived this morning and I am delighted with them.  They cut a perfect 2mm notch and I can now proceed with my current project – that of creating a block for the perfect pair of trousers, but that’s a separate blog entry…

Notchers

Notchers close-up and the 2mm notch created with them.