Hey y’all, welcome to Prints month on the blog! Yeah, I know September started a week ago, but life happened and I’m just now getting caught up. At any rate, I’m excited about the things I’m sharing this month, starting with today’s tutorial on working with prints when you’re sewing garments. So let’s get in to how to match prints.
Stripes are the easiest prints to start with, so let’s talk about how to match stripes. The first thing to know is that it’s much easier if you make sure the stripes line up when you fold the fabric. You want the stripes on the top layer of fabric to lay right on top of the stripes on the lower layer, as shown below.
Next, use lots of pins when pinning a seam. You’ll want to carefully insert one pin at least every 1 inch, more if the fabric is shifty. The more carefully you line up the stripes, the better your matching will be. With really shifty fabric (rayon challis, for example) you might even want to hand baste the seam first to match the stripes.
Matching plaids follows the same principle as stripes, except that now you have to consider matching both horizontally and vertically. And depending on the seams, you may not be able to completely match the plaid. The important thing to remember in cases when you do want to and can match both horizontally and vertically is that you need to match on the seamline, not the pattern edges. Because of this, it’s helpful to mark out your pattern seam allowances on the pieces.
In the image above, the red arrows indicate points that I matched horizontally. If you’re sewing something with side darts, you’d want to match from the hem point instead of the armscye point for the side seams, because the dart will throw off the pattern matching.
The shirt below has princess seams, so it’s not possible to completely match the plaid around the curves. In cases like this, you want to match the most obvious joins, so I chose to match the lines horizontally, and not worry as much about the vertical pattern repeats.
You can see those results clearly on the shaped side seams as well; the horizontal lines stay matched but the verticals don’t.
If you’re sewing with a floral or other print, these also have repeats, but sometimes they’re harder to spot. Because of this, it’s also less bothersome to the eye when you don’t match them, but if you really want to try, here’s a tip: make a vertical fold anywhere on the fabric perpendicular to the selvedge, then pull that fold along the fabric parallel to the selvedge until the pattern matches. Then you can mark those repeat lines to help you in pinning your pattern to match.
One last pattern matching tip – as you’ve probably noticed, any time you want to match a pattern, you generally have to have extra fabric. If your pattern yardage chart doesn’t specify, it’s a good idea to plan on an extra 1/2 – 3/4 yards for pattern matching.
I’m so glad I read this because I usually avoid plaids and stripes just so that I don’t have to match them. but this is very helpful! especially with prints that have repeats. thanks for this post, I’m totally bookmarking it 🙂
One of my goals for sewing this fall is to make a plaid shirt, and I’ve never matched prints before, so this post came at the perfect time!
After learning to sew in the early 70’s and learning these techniques, I have a hard time purchasing ready made items where the strips and plaids don’t match! Thanks for teaching others these techniques!!!
Matching plaids, stripes and prints was one of the first things my mom taught me when learning to sew with patterns. She used the notch markings on the pattern pieces to help line things up and it worked really well.
I wanted to share with you (on my blog) how my efforts went to follow your guidance, on a tartan dress. I even managed to get the horizontal lines across the sleeves and bodice to match, with ehr arms by her sides! The pleats matched perfectly at the front, as I centred everything, but wouldn’t quite work at the back, as her waist wasn’t an even number of pleats. But overall, I’m really proud of myself, having got both the verticals and horizontals to match where possible. (The sleeves look a little long on her at Christmas but this girl grows like a summer weed and the sleeves fit her perfectly by now.) So thank you for your advice.
This page on my blog: