You are viewing this site in staging mode. Click in this bar to return to normal site.

Creating a Cut & Sew Kit

26 July 2018 08:30

It has come to my attention that some of you may have missed the design challenge last month (Girl's Cut & Sew Skirt) because of difficulties creating and / or uploading a pattern onto which to put your design.

I must admit, I'd sort of assumed that a simple skirt would be basically rectangles.  This month's challenge - Cut & Sew Shorts - is a bit more complicated, so I'll give you one way of doing it here.

If you use Illustrator, Gimp, or something similar, you probably won't need this tutorial.  If, however, you don't (or can't) use vector software, then this might be helpful.  I used and Photoshop Elements, because they are the programs I'm happiest with.  If you've only got (or prefer) Photoshop, then you can use that for the whole process.  The parts where I use will be very similar in Photoshop - I'm sure you'll be able to work it out!

If you've only got, I'll give you an alternative for the part where I use Photoshop.

If you haven't got either, you can download here, for free.

The Pattern

Probably the hardest part of this challenge will be finding / creating the pattern.  There are lots of ideas for different styles of shorts on Pinterest, including on my Pinterest board, Dress-making for Children.  By all means use them for ideas, but you can't actually use those patterns, or commercial ones, without permission, for something which you plan to sell.  However, the sites which tell you how to design your own shorts start by drawing round an existing pair of shorts (or trousers, although you may have to make the legs a bit wider, or pyjamas).  

You could use the patterns as a guide to the general shape you need and draw your own.  Measure the child you're making for (or use standard age-related measurements) to get the dimensions right.

You may, if you wish, use my pattern here, either as it is, or adapted to suit your own requirements.

Getting your pattern onto the computer

You will need to scan or photograph your pattern pieces into suitable software - I use  Use a high resolution on your scanner to give yourself more options further on in the process.   If the pieces are too big for your scanner, cut them neatly, preferably with a paper slicer, and upload each  piece.  Then 'glue' them back together in your software.

Check the resolution and size of your pieces.  It's easiest to work at 150dpi, but your pattern pieces need to be at the same resolution as your canvas, whatever resolution you go for.  (Between 150 and 300dpi)  

If changing the resolution alters the size, you can change that in without the resolution changing.

The Kit

If you are making simple shorts, especially if they are for a small child, then open a new canvas which is 112cms wide by 50cms deep - the size of 2 fat quarters.  Select 150dpi as the resolution.

If your pattern requires more fabric, open a new canvas which is 1 metre square, again at 150dpi.  (or any dpi up to 300 - but be consistent!)

Put all the pattern pieces onto your canvas.  Remember that you may need 2 of some pieces - but don't forget to flip one horizontally or you'll have 2 left legs instead of a left and a right! Take care with placing the pieces so that the straight grain is parrallel to the edge of the canvas.  Label the pieces - NEXT to the piece!  You can put marks onto the pattern pieces if it will be in the seam allowance, but not on the main body of the pattern piece.  Put the markings on after you've added your design.

Check again that your pattern pieces are still the right size!

You will also need instructions for making up the kit.  If there are too many to print onto the fabric, print them in a Word file to go with the fabric.  You'll need to tell people about that on the fabric.  (If you know what you're doing, you may prefer to put a website address on the fabric and have your instructions uploaded so that people can download them when they buy the kit.)

Adding the Design

This is where I go to Photoshop Elements.

In Photoshop, open your design.  Select the area you want to use.  Choose Edit, Define pattern from selection.

Enter a name for your pattern in the dialogue box.  Your new pattern will now be included in the Pattern panel.

Open your Kit canvas.  Select a pattern piece.  If it's not rectangular (e.g. a leg pattern) use the quick selection tool to select the pattern piece.  The selection should be exactly round the pattern piece.

I found it easiest to start in the top RH corner.  For some reason it worked better from there.

Click on Edit, Fill selection.  (Make sure the layer is high-lighted in the layer panel on the right.)  In the dialogue box which opens, click on Use: and choose Pattern.  Then choose your pattern from the Custom Pattern box. 

Click on OK – and your pattern piece should be filled with your design.

Repeat this step for all the pattern pieces.

One of the advantages of digital printing is being able to add trimmings easily.  So I picked up the purple of the road and used that for the waistband and bib linings and for the inside of the pocket.  I picked up the green and used that for the pocket and strap loops.  I also added a vehicle from the map to the pocket.  

Add instructions in the blank spaces of your canvas.

Your Cut & Sew Kit should be ready to upload now.

Adding the Design with

 If you are only using, you will not, as far as I know, be able to fill your pattern pieces like this.  (If I'm wrong, please tell me!)  Instead, you will have to fill the whole canvas, then delete the unwanted portions.

Open a new canvas 1 metre square, 150dpi.  Copy and paste your design onto the canvas.  You may well have to do this several times, so it's probably best to add the pattern pieces as you go, and only add what you need of your design.

Click on Layer, Add New Layer to add a layer to your canvas.

Copy and paste your pattern piece onto the new layer.  (Check that the new layer is highlighted, so that you are working on that layer.)

Click on F4, then, in the dialogue box, reduce the opacity by moving the slider to the left. 

If you move it onto 0, you will lose your pattern completely.   As you move towards 0, the design will show through more and more. 

You want the design to show as much as possible, whilst keeping the outline of your pattern.  You may find you need to make your pattern outline darker and thicker so that it will show through with the maximum level of design.

When you have added all your pattern pieces, remove any unwanted sections of your design (outside the pattern pieces!) using the rubber or the paintbrush with white.  You can then add your instructions in the blank spaces on the canvas.

Your Cut & Sew Kit should be ready to upload now.


Many thanks to Helen Hodgson of Polly Dextrous for the use of her design, Bank Holiday on the Road, also available in our Market Place.