How to Sew a Simple Dress ~ Step 3 [A Series]

In this article, you will choose a pattern layout, pin your tissue pattern to your fabric, cut out you pattern pieces, and transfer pattern markings for Vogue 9237!

Welcome back to the How to Sew a Simple Dress series. So glad you’re still with me!

Last time, we had to be very brave and face our body measurements in Step 2 ~ Fitting Our Sewing Pattern. And we did so bravely because we’re serious about unleashing our dressmaking superpowers!

Since we’re here, I’m assuming we’ve washed, ironed, and squared our fashion fabric.

I’m also assuming that we’ve chosen our final pattern size and bravely altered our sewing pattern to fit our body.

Now, we’re ready to commit…

Series Contents

Step 3: Over at the Cutting Table

Now, that we’re over at the cutting table for real, we’ll be doing the following:

If you need to brush up on any of the above skills, you’re just one click away!

Step 3a: Choose a pattern layout.

The first step at the cutting table is laying out our tissue or duplicated pattern pieces.

And the first consideration is fabric width. After we’ve determined our fabric width, we’re ready to choose a layout.

For example, the width of my fabric is 51 inches, which is more than enough for me to fold my fabric with right sides together (RST), selvage to selvage.

To keep things super simple, I’m going to the standard layout.

How to Layout a Sewing Pattern

Then, find a cutting surface that is at least one yard (36 inches) long — longer is even better.

Ideally, we want to lay out ALL of our pattern pieces BEFORE pinning. This way we can make sure that we have enough fabric to cut out all our pattern pieces on grain as instructed by the pattern guide sheet.

Make sure there are no permanent creases in your fabric that you need to workaround.

It is also super critical to make sure that NONE of our fabric is hanging over the edge of our cutting surface! Just fold the excess at the end of your cutting surface and unroll as needed.

The tissue pattern gives us information on how to layout the pieces using the grainline and how many to cut out of each pattern piece.

For this pattern, the FRONT (#4) pattern piece is “Cut 1 on the fold.” This means that after we cut and open the fabric it will yield one full front dress piece.

The BACK (#1) and the RUFFLE (#2) pieces are “Cut 2,” so we’ll need to make sure they are grain perfect when we lay out the pattern pieces.

Once all the pattern pieces are laid out and we’ve double-checked that they are grain perfect, it’s time to…

Step 3b: Pin our sewing pattern.

First, pin the four corners on the diagonal.

Next, pin at the notches in the SA. This is optional if you feel confident enough.

Sew a Dress - Vogue 9237 - Step 3

Finally, pin between the notches, placing the pins no closer than a hand’s width apart — parallel to the cutting line in the SA. (Once you’ve become a pro, this step can be optional.)

We might need to place more pins around curved areas to ensure we end up with even, smooth edges as we cut.

Now, that everything is secured, it’s time to…

Step 3c: Cut out our pattern.

The #1 thing we need to remember is this: We must keep the bottom blade of our dressmaker’s shears on the cutting surface at all times!

And the #2 thing is to: Take our time!

Sew a Dress - Vogue 9237 - Step 3
Please, pay attention to how I have cut past the corner.

If we have sharp dressmaker’s shears and we do #1 and #2, we’ll end up with lovely, even cut edges every time!

Now that we’ve cut out our pattern pieces neatly, it’s time to…

Step 3d: Transfer pattern markings to fabric.

You want to transfer all pattern markings: notches, circles, squares, triangles, etc.

A sewing pattern is like a “puzzle,” and all these markings will help us put the “puzzle” together with a minimum of stress.

REMEMBER: If you don’t have time for marking, you have no business cutting!

And here’s how we’re going to transfer markings from our tissue pattern to our fashion fabric…

Sew a Dress - Vogue 9237 - Step 3

Using a water-soluble marking pen, we’ll mark the following:

  • Notches;
  • Center front (CF) because there is no CF seam;
  • Circle at CB (pierce it with a straight pin and mark the top and bottom layers).

Finally, if it is difficult to tell the RS from the WS of our fabric, we can place a strip of masking tape on the WS of the cutout fabric piece.

Sew a Dress - Vogue 9237 - Step 3

Now that everything has been cut out and marked, we’re going to leave the tissue pattern pinned to the fabric until we’re ready to sew!


Today, we’re one step closer to sitting down at our sewing machines!

We’ve covered a lot of ground today, so STOP! For tomorrow or the day after tomorrow is another day.

Next up: Step 4 ~ Let’s Sew Our Dress

Are you excited?! I hope so!

Until then,  remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to how layout your pattern pieces!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about cutting out a sewing pattern and a super bonus cutting tip!