Top tips: Pattern matching stripes and plaids!

So you have found the perfect sewing pattern, and you have found the most perfect plaid or striped fabric but you are dreading getting all those lovely lines to match up! These fabrics are such a popular choice at the moment and look so good, don’t be put off by the pattern matching. Here are our top tips for matching those lines!

how to pattern match stripes and plaids

1.  Make any sizing alterations to the pattern and test with a muslin first. Once the pieces have been cut out any alterations will ‘mess up’ all your hard work with the matching! Always make a muslin!

2. Decide what falls in the centre of the garment. Depending on the type of plaid/stripe you will need to make decisions on which way up you want the pattern to be and which ‘line’ falls in the centre. As a general rule, it is best to place the most dominant colour or the one you want to be featured in the centre of the garment.

3. Make sure that your pattern is running in the same direction for all the pieces you cut. Sometimes plaids can look different when placed different ways up. Unless you are creating a contrasting section, you will want all your pieces to be placed in the same direction on the fabric.

4. Never cut on the fold! Most of the time stripes and plaids turn out slightly uneven and it is so difficult to get the pattern to sit straight when you can only see half of it. Lay your pattern piece on the fabric and draw around it in a water soluble pen, pencil or tailors chalk and then flip it over to do the other side. This way you will be able to get it perfectly in line.

5. Always mark the reverse of your pattern pieces. Sometimes it is not always clear which is the right and wrong side of a striped or plaid fabric and there is nothing more frustrating than spending all that time lining up your pieces to then not be able to work out which way up you intended them to be! It is also a good idea to mark the top/bottom of any square or rectangular pieces.

6. Prioritise the matching on a garment as follows: front and back, sides and shoulders. Seams that run down the front and back of a garment are the most noticeable so match these first. Then look at the side seams and shoulders which are not quite as essential.

7. Don’t be afraid to draw on your paper pattern pieces. This can help a lot. Once you have one piece ready, draw the pattern lines to help line up the next piece. Also adding the seam lines to your pattern pieces can help you to see which line/section of the print you need to be matching too.

8. Use the bias to create contrasts. Sometimes it is good to break the pattern up a little with a bias section. Turn your pieces so they sit diagonally on the fabric like we did with the waistband and pockets on our Sylvie Dress.

9. Take your time when cutting out. This is the most important step in the pattern matching process. Make a mistake here and you will be kicking yourself further down the line! Find a time to cut out your pieces when you can really concentrate without interruption and your results will be top!

10. Use plenty of pins to match up that pattern before sewing. You don’t want to spend hours getting all your pieces cut out to then rush the sewing bit! Pin each line together before sewing and take it slow on the machine. A walking / even feed foot may help with thicker fabrics to stop them shifting about.

I really hope these tips have given you more confidence to work with these amazing fabrics. As long as you take your time and really think about the placement you will be pattern matching like a pro in no time!

Don’t forget to show us your ace pattern matching with #thevillagehaberdashery

2 Responses to Top tips: Pattern matching stripes and plaids!

  1. PsychicSewerKathleen July 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

    Brilliant tutorial! Something else I’ve found more helpful than pins is WonderTape or even a decent water soluble glue stick.

  2. Francis Paul July 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    thank you for this great tutorial!

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