Five ways to make a little fabric go further

So you’ve altered your pattern and you’re all ready to cut out your brand-spanking-new garment. Except that once you’ve laid out all the pieces, you realise you don’t have quite enough fabric. Aaaargh.

Well, you probably can’t get a maxi dress out of half a metre, but if you’re only a little bit short, here are five things you could try.

  1. Tweak your garment a bit – maybe 3/4 length sleeves would be more flattering than full-length, or you could skip the pockets? I left out the pockets on my version of Simplicity 2246, and I much prefer it without them.
  2.  Colour block – how about a contrasting belt or using a scrap of another fabric in your stash for the collar?

    Sewing pattern showing 6 different lace dress options
    If I ever get around to sewing this lace dress, I’ll definitely make the belt in a contrasting fabric.
  3. Facings and bindings can almost always be cut from a different fabric, and I love the look of a patterned facing inside a plain garment like this Bettine on Lauren’s blog
I wish I'd thought to cut the facings for this dress from another fabric - they're so itchy in the green wool!
I wish I’d thought to cut the facings for this dress from another fabric – they’re so itchy in the green wool!

4. Create your own fabric layout – rather than slavishly following the layouts given in the pattern, try re-arranging the pieces on the fabric yourself. There are just two rules: you must follow the grainline, and if you’re using a fabric with a nap, or a one-way pattern, then make sure the pieces that matter all face the same way

For this dress, I didn't have enough fabric to make another bodice in one piece, so I created a seam in the centre front and cut it as two pieces.
For this dress, I didn’t have enough fabric to make another bodice in one piece, so I created a seam in the centre front and cut it as two pieces.

5. Try folding the fabric differently. What happens if you create two folds in a knit fabric, for example? Or you could flat-cut everything like Jen from Grainline if you’re obsessed with yield.

Two pattern pieces laid out on twice folded fabric
Making two folds in the fabric for this maternity top gave me a nice chunky piece left over – enough for another T-shirt

If you’re new to making your own clothes, you might prefer to stick with the layout given by the pattern company. But if you know what you’re doing, especially if you’ve altered the pattern to fit you, you might well be able to do better with a bespoke layout.

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