Learning how to match plaids doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
And since we are all planning our projects for Camp Workroom Social’s PJ Party challenge and contest, I wanted to teach you how to match plaids (and how to match stripes!) like a dream!
#1. Buy extra yardage if you need to match plaids or stripes
First, estimate a little extra fabric in your yardage. Since you will have to place your pieces precisely on your fabric, you will end up wasting some space in between the stripes or plaid (the smaller the stripe or plaid, the less “extra” required). There’s no exact figure for how much extra to buy, and it depends on how many pieces are in your pattern. 25% extra yardage is safe if you want to match plaid or stripes.
Keep in mind some plaids have a nap, which means they are directional. With these fabrics you will need to cut all your pattern pieces facing in the same direction to match your plaid or stripe accurately. (In general I usually cut my garments all one direction, but on a fabric that is 2-directional or solid, you could cut your pieces from 2 directions.)
#2. How to cut a double layer of stripes or plaids
If you want to cut 2 layers of fabric at once (with the fabric folded, selvedges even), you need to match up your stripes or plaid from selvedge to fold. To hold everything in place, pin along several stripe lines. If you don’t secure your fabric, it may twist or shift while cutting and could end up mismatched. For plaids, pin along both the horizontal and the vertical stripes.
#2. How to cut a single layer of stripes or plaids
My preferred method of cutting stripes and plaids is to cut pattern pieces from a single layer. Cutting pattern pieces flat avoids the pinning process required for cutting two layers at once. For cut-on-fold pattern pieces, I cut one side first, then flip the pattern piece, align center front/center back and then cut the remaining side.
The most important step in matching plaids or stripes while cutting flat is marking your actual pattern piece to indicate the plaid match-points. All you need for this is a ruler and pencil. Align the ruler with the plaid lines or stripes and draw a straight line on the first pattern piece you cut. (For a simpler pattern with less pieces, it may be possible to use an existing mark or notch as a reference point).
Next, transfer your lines to the wrong side of the pattern piece. Match the lines up with the plaid in the same manner you used for cutting the first piece. (For example, here our lines indicate matching with the top of the black plaid stripes.)
After you mark and cut the center front pattern piece, take it and align it with the next pattern piece that is sewn into it (here I am sewing the bodice front to the bodice back at the side seam). Remember to account for your seam allowance, especially if the seam is at an angle. With the pieces aligned, draw in the plaid markings keeping them aligned with the center front piece. The plaid lines should connect. Marking your paper pattern in this way is especially helpful if you are using a print-and-assemble PDF pattern, because copier paper is heavier than tissue and you can’t easily see the stripes through the paper.
With your second piece marked, use it to cut out each side in a single layer. Don’t forget to flip your pattern piece over for side #2. You don’t want to end up with 2 lefts or 2 rights. As you place your paper pattern on your fabric, carefully match the lines on the paper to the stripes on your fabric. (Remember to check whether your fabric has nap and cut accordingly).
If you’re looking for more resources on matching stripes or matching plaids, check out the video tutorial I made for McCall’s on matching stripes. I show how to cut single layers in the short video, and offer some stripe sewing inspiration as well!
There’s still plenty of time to join the Camp Workroom Social PJ Party on October 1. To enter our great SINGER® sewing machine giveaway and to earn your PJ sewing merit badge*, post a picture of your you-made PJs and tag your post with @workroomsocial, #camppjparty, #sewwithSINGER, and #campworkroomsocial. To complete your entry, email email@example.com with the subject line “Camp PJ Party” and include a link to your Instagram post, your full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
*U.S. residents with a valid U.S. mailing address only.
**Official rules at http://campworkroomsocial.com/contest/.