Have you ever just walked by a big, bold plaid fabric and were totally intimidated? You love the colors and the way the stripes are woven together, but you know that unless you want your garment to look a sale rack reject, you are going to have to MATCH that plaid. And I agree, it can be daunting, but like the striped knit garments we made, it just takes a little extra care in the layout and you can match anything.
Before I say more, let me just give you a disclaimer: cutting out a garment in a big bold plaid requires three big things: Time, Patience, Planning. In the end, if you just match certain strategic areas in a garment, you will be miles ahead of the majority of mis-matched ready-to-wear garments in the stores (mass-produced garments are meant to make a profit, and matching plaids takes time and more fabric; that's why they call it a bargain).
But you? You sew! You can do this. When we say "take your time and think before you cut", it's not meant to scare you into avoiding plaids. When you take your time to think about where the bolder stripes of your fabric are placed, where these lines will fall on your frame. Cutting out our Amy Butler blouse in a print or solid color fabric might have been done in a jiffy, but in this plaid Laurel reports that she spent at least an hour laying out the pieces on this bold fabric.
My fabric for The Liverpool Shirt by Amy Butler is a dreamy soft double faced cotton voile (we have since sold out of this color, but check out our other double faced plaids). Note that the pattern has both bold horizontal AND vertical stripes, so they both need to be taken into consideration during the planning and cut out process.
First things first. We noted that the center fold of the fabric off the bolt was not on the center of our large vertical stripes. Before doing anything, Laurel pressed out the factory fold.
Make a new center fold - because this voile is so soft, Laurel pinned the center fold before laying out the entire length of fabric on her cutting table.
The next step is critical in the matching process before you layout your pattern pieces: work with the fabric until the underneath side of the fabric mirrors the top side. This process was time consuming for Laurel because the fabric was so soft and lightweight, it shifted easily. But, again, taking the time for this step ensures at least a running start on a well-matched garment.
Some plaids are perfectly symmetrical, like a gingham plaid, but many (I should say most) are not. My voile's stripes are not symmetrical, so when Laurel laid the pattern pieces out, they all needed to be laid out in the same direction (i.e. top of the pattern pieces all facing the same). And remember, this may mean buying a little extra fabric to ensure a good match.
It's more than likely that you're not going to match every aspect of your garment. Relax and know that if you get the side seams matched and the center front opening at a minimum, give yourself a pat on the back. Concentrate on the big showy parts of your garment and forget the less noticeable areas. Laurel's attempt at matching on the sleeves won't be perfect, she says, "but close enough for government work". (Where did they get that saying, Lo?). We're making garments to LIVE in, not to stop the sewing world in its tracks.
Have you had a pattern matching success or failure? Tell us about! What are the tricks YOU use? Email me at email@example.com, or share an image on our Facebook page!
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