Tips on Using Fabric Panels

Tips on Using Fabric Panels


*This is a guest blog, written by Megan Harvey*

I love a great base pattern that is easily customizable. It’s even better when that pattern can accommodate panels and extra touches. We recently took a trip to Disney, and the Discoverer Tee featured heavily in my makes for the trip! This pattern fit the bill for so many of the ideas I had. All together, I made four: two for each child.

Panel Tips and Tricks

Let’s take a look at the shirts using panels first. I don’t know about you, but I’m always nervous to cut into my panels. They’re always so fun, and precision is key to have them looking their best. Precision is not a favorite word for this imperfect sewist! Here’s a few steps I take to ensure my panels are as close to perfect as I can get them.

My first step in cutting a pattern piece using a panel is to find the width of the design. On this Mouse panel, that’s about 6.5 inches. Then, I divide that number by two and I look for a feature of the panel that stands out at the new measurement.

In our example, 3.25 inches is just about at the edge of the eye. This gives me a guide when I fold the fabric in half. I fold it so I can cut my pattern piece on the fold.

Caption: A note - I cut using a projector. Occasionally, pieces are unfolded on the projector file, then the panel can be cut without folding. But, a folded pattern piece is no obstacle when cutting panels with a few extra minutes of prep!

Then, I do one more check. This is a lot more checking and measuring than I would normally do when cutting, but even so, it doesn’t take much extra time at all. At this stage, I’m checking to see if the edges of the pattern aligned when I folded it. I also take a look at the fold to make sure the fold isn’t crooked in relation to the panel. It’s almost time to cut! The last thing I check is how far from the top of the pattern piece the design starts. Because the Discoverer has the top yoke portion, I like to move the panels up a bit higher than I normally would. Then, the design sits nicely on the finished shirt. I approached my daughter’s princess panel shirt with the same method (and took the opportunity to do some scrap busting with the rest of the colors on hers!)

Simple Hacks

The Discoverer Tee is a great starting place to get creative! I think it’s the curved color block shape - there are so many possibilities that come to mind when I think about that shape. When I was planning the Disney outfits I’d make for my kids, I of course bounced ideas and chatted with my sewing friend for inspiration. She suggested the Alien would be a cute look. I realized I could make one small addition to Discoverer to achieve this, along with a little applique.

For this shirt, I added a strip of piping between the color blocked sections on both the front and the back. There’s not much purple on those little guys, but the piping strip added just enough to pull everything together! Some appliqued eyes completed the shirt for my little dude.

My little man got one more Discoverer for the trip. He loves a certain mischievous duck, and I realized I could again use applique to get a simple but effective look for him. This time, I wanted a solid blue shirt with no color block. I almost reached for a different shirt pattern, but I love how the Discoverer fits him. It was a fairly simple matter to adjust seam allowances and cut a solid front and back piece from the pattern.

Even though I cut with a projector, I accomplished this without tracing any pieces to combine them. For the first step, I cut the top portion of the shirt out (but not the curved color block line), marking that bottom line with a pin.

*Caption - I’m blending between sizes for him, so that’s why there are two lines showing at the top of the pattern piece.

Then, I did a little figuring to remove seam allowances. I moved my cut fabric to line up with the projected bottom of the shirt, to take out about ½ inch of space. I didn’t worry too much about getting it super precise with the seam allowance removal - if the shirt ended up a bit long, that was ok with me. I was sure to err on the side of taking out too little.

Then, I could easily cut the rest of the shirt piece. I added my applique and then finished up the shirt!

I hope you are inspired by these panel tips and ideas for customizing this pattern! The kids loved their new outfits, and we had a great trip. These shirts have been worn since we arrived home as well, and I know they’re going to be loved for a long time!



PDF Sewing Patterns

Download your pattern immediately after your order.