We’ve rounded up the expert advice you’ll need for sewing checked fabric with success
Plaid, checks and tartan are all great winter staples. For a professional finish ensure your pattern matching is on point.
BEFORE YOU START
When buying plaid, checked or striped fabric, buy more than the pattern envelope suggests, as you will need extra fabric to be able to match the pattern. As a general rule, 1.5 metres extra should be enough, but a very large or uneven plaid may need more.
ASSESS YOUR PRINT
Press your fabric and take note of the design – are there dominant stripes within the plaid? Where will they fall best on the body? Dominant stripes need further consideration – a hem may fall on a dominant stripe if you desire, but a curved hem cannot, so position curved hems accordingly.
CHECK YOUR PATTERN
Familiarise yourself with the pattern pieces and consider where to place them on the fabric. Firstly, think about the centring of pieces. A centre front pattern piece for example will need to be placed precisely, so fold the fabric carefully to accommodate this. You should also consider whether to print match across a waist seam, princess seam or dart. It may be better to slash your pattern piece and pivot a dart from the bust to the waist (or vice versa), so it is out of the way, creating a more attractive effect. Next, double check the quantity you need for each pattern piece in relation to the amount of fabric you have as this may affect where you position the print across the body.
Place the pattern pieces on the fabric, considering all of the points above, and place matching notches on each pattern piece on matching parts of the plaid or stripe, taking care of straight grain lines etc. If you’re matching a print across a sleeve, line up the underarm point of both
the bodice pieces and sleeve at the same part of the print for the best match. It is not always possible to match at every part of the garment, for example curved seams, so keep that in mind as you work. Angled seams may require a little extra effort.
CUT SINGLE LAYER
We recommend cutting out the pattern pieces on a single layer of fabric, which can be easier in some ways regarding pattern matching, just remember to flip each pattern piece and cut it twice. (Alternatively, once you have folded your fabric carefully and evenly, pin it into position along all the edges, ensuring the plaid or stripe design cannot shift during cutting.)
Consider folding over the side seam allowances as you’ll be able to better match your print on these edges, as you’ll see exactly where the designs intersect, but remember to add the seam allowance back on before you cut out or your garment won’t fit and your print won’t match. Work methodically, cutting in pairs where necessary.
For example, cut the left back bodice then flip your pattern piece and cut the right back bodice. You can even use your cut piece to double check the mirror piece is positioned correctly. Lay the cut back bodice piece on top of the print so it ‘disappears’ into the design of the fabric. Then position your pattern piece so the centre back seam line matches. Pin in place then remove the previously cut piece before cutting its mirror image.
*Article originally published in Love Sewing magazine