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Matching Plaids
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   All Things Sewing - Public -> All Things Sewing General DiscussionMessage format
Posted 2010-04-11 9:53 PM (#62110)
Subject: Matching Plaids

I tried doing a search for this topic, but either there isn't another or I really suck at searches (I suspect it's the latter).

I am terrible at matching plaids. It takes me forever and even then, things are still a bit off. However, I love them and would like to continue working with them. I was hoping you ladies (and gentlemen, if you're out there!) might share your tips and tricks with me? Thank you so much!

Also, if you have experience working with the plaid option in the yardage calculator, I would be really interested in this, as well. It's something I believe would be useful, especially for gauging yardage, but I don't know where to start.

Edited by jeanninec1976 2010-04-11 9:55 PM
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Beverly A.
Posted 2010-04-11 10:37 PM (#62111 - in reply to #62110)
Subject: RE: Matching Plaids

Elite Veteran

Posts: 631
Location: Near Houston TX
First of all, what are you wishing to make? Don't start out with a tailored jacket with lapels, princess lines and a two piece sleeve. And...try a simple plaid, one that is equal on both sides and top to bottom, too. Make something simple, a straight skirt maybe or a simple jacket. You might want to cut out your pieces one at a time not trying to match up the lines by cutting out two sleeves, say, at once. If you do this you GOTTA remember to put right sides together ;-) ;-) ;-) Depending on which piece you are cutting out, marking the plaid placement on the pattern sometimes helps to match things up.
Watch the placement of the predominant lines. A strong horizontal line at the bustline might not be the best thing. Decide which line you want at the hemline and keep that all the way around. Make sure a predominant vertical line is at center back (usually) or at least, some line is centered. Do that at the front too. I have found that putting the predominant vertical line at the CF and CB will often help to match the plaid at the shoulder. "They" say that it is not necessary to do that but I am a bit obsessive when it comes to matching plaids.
Sleeves are where things get frustrating sometimes. The ideal is for there to be a complete plaid at the half-way point between the front notch and shoulder seam. (the part on the sleeve completing the part on the body). Start looking at plaid clothing while watching TV and you will see what I mean. This is especially noticable with well made men's jackets.
As far as the yardage, well, I would tend to take the pattern to the store if I had doubts. But really, I have never had a shortage problem with plaid fabric. I buy 2 1/2 yards or so and can get out a jacket just fine usually. HTH or at least doesn't confuse too much. Ask away.
Beverly A.
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Posted 2010-04-11 11:13 PM (#62112 - in reply to #62110)
Subject: RE: Matching Plaids

Extreme Veteran

Posts: 418

In addition to the above good advice, match the sleeve at the front notch.  Draw the lines of the plaid on the pieces as you lay them out, especially good for matching pockets.  Turn some pieces crosswise or bias--not only does it eliminate matching, but it creates a design detail.

When sewing, baste the seams, use basting tape, or pin well and use a walking foot. 

Finally, unless you are entering a sewing contest, don't sweat the small stuff.  I bet it will still be better matched than most retail!

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Posted 2010-04-11 11:16 PM (#62113 - in reply to #62110)
Subject: RE: Matching Plaids

Certified Educator

Posts: 509
Location: Houston, TX
Have you looked at the instructions in the help file for plaid/stripe yardage calculator? I did do it once and it worked well just following the instructions - play with it a bit.
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Posted 2010-04-12 10:32 AM (#62120 - in reply to #62110)
Subject: RE: Matching Plaids

I don't think I've ever sewn a plaid skirt or at least if I have, I don't remember it. So far, it's just been blouses. My results haven't been bad so far, but I find I spend a LOT of time lining things up. I started a shirt last night and spent two hours just prepping the fabric. It's a smallish, even plaid in a linen/rayon blend. Drapes beautifully, but the weave is loose so it's a bit shifty.

Placement is just the kind of info I was looking for. Usually I use notches to help place lines, and I do center the front and back including yokes, collars, button plackets, etc.. Also, I keep my eye on making sure the plaid ends in the same place all around the hem.

I had NO idea about the sleeves, though! I've always just lined things up at the shoulder point and accepted that things would go wonky through the rest. It makes much more sense to set things at the front notch, though. Also, I never considered placing plaids at more flattering points. That makes total sense.

I see blouses, dresses and skirts all the time where things match up perfectly and I wonder how they do it. When I try, the seam allowance tends to screw me up and the plaid might be level, but it doesn't have that tight point that I desire, like two corners coming together just right. I also have a hard time with fitted side seams. They match in one spot and then don't for the rest.

On the plus side, I've recently fallen in love with hand basting. I think that makes a big difference in setting the seam. It gives much more control over fudging things just a touch to line them up, and making sure they don't shift when machine sewing (I don't have a walking foot).
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Merry Mary
Posted 2010-04-12 1:40 PM (#62122 - in reply to #62110)
Subject: RE: Matching Plaids


Posts: 71
Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Threads Magazine had a great article on matching plaids - it is in their January 2008 issue, No. 134, pages 29-32.  Hope this helps.  Mary
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