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The Perfect Match: Matching Patterns When You Sew

Updated: May 5, 2021

I love plaids and stripes but when sewing with them there are important planning steps that you need to take to ensure your patterns match so you end up with a beautiful make. When working with a stripe, plaid or repeated pattern here are a few tricks and tips to keep in mind.

When you are laying out your pattern think carefully about the direction your pattern pieces need to go. Does the pattern repeat in only one direction? If so, make sure that you have your pattern pieces laid out in that direction only. Take time to really look at the pattern in detail and understand its layout and repeats.

Laying Out Your Pattern

If your pattern has a definable vertical line use one of these main lines as your center for the front and back pieces. Once you have the pattern piece laid out on this vertical line, pay attention to where the lower armhole corner is in relation to the pattern. This armsyce* (armhole) point can be used as a reference "anchor" for the pattern. Try to maneuver this point so that it is at an easily determined part of the pattern and not in an undefined space of the pattern. If there is a horizontal line in your pattern, or a repeated floral focal point use this as your reference point. Taking the time to place pieces on these anchor points of the pattern will guarantee that they will match together much more easily.

When you cut out the arm pieces match the point of the armhole to the same part of the pattern as the bodice arm syce "anchor point". This will allow the pattern on the sleeve to line up with the bodice pattern. If your pattern has a collar, line the center of the collar up with the same vertical line as you did for the back center then it will match the center back.

Trace smaller pieces like pockets and lapels. You can use parchment paper if you don't have proper pattern paper. This allows you to see the pattern of the fabric through the pattern piece. When you are matching pockets on the front of a garment, align the pattern piece with the markings on the actual piece of fabric that you have cut out. Lightly trace the basic pattern onto the pattern piece. Now place the pattern piece on your fabric to cut out until the traced pattern exactly matches the traced lines on your pattern piece. Voila! You will now have a pocket/lapel piece that perfectly matches your main body fabric. See everything you need to know, you did learn in Kindergarten.

Starting to Sew

Matching your side seams is an important part of the overall pattern match effect. Pin, pin, pin and pin some more! Pin the top and bottom of your seams and then the center. Slowly work your way from these points to pin the pattern pieces easing the two parts together. The less you pin, the less chance you have of your pattern matching along the seam. As you sew the machine can pull the fabric so that it doesn't match. You may want to baste the seams together first, or even use a very thin strip of sewing adhesive if pinnng is too difficult. Your shoulder seams will never match completely due to the nature of the the slope that is created when you sew them together, but your vertical pattern lines will match up in most places.

I hope that these hints help you to create a perfectly matched make. Enjoy pattern matching... there is Sew Much to Design!

Armscye (also spelled arm scythe and pronounced 'Arm's Eye') is a Scottish term in origin. It refers to the armhole opening in a garment and is also the tailoring term for the pattern shape used when constructing the armhole.

This is a shortened version of the Fibremood Rya Shacket- an unlined jacket that works really well as a layering piece or a transition jacket between seasons. To see my blog for the longer version of this shacket click here.

Boots: L'Intervalle Shoes

1 Comment

There is something so satisfying about perfect stripe and pattern matching. Bravo - this is beautiful!

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