Stripes are awesome! (if you don’t know). And they rule fantastic designs throughout the 19th Century.
What if you love stripes but the matching part terrifies you? You avoid sewing with beautiful linear patterns because you think the Stripe Matching Game is beyond your reach. I can assure you it’s not. It’s a matter of knowing what steps to take first and developing patience to get it right.
Let me walk you through the steps I use when matching stripes. This method can be used for stripes of all sizes and plaids too.
Before we begin, you must remember to work on only 1 layer of fabric at a time. None of that, “Oh, I can fold it exactly on one of the stripe edges and it will all be on grain and match” stuff. No.
You want your bodice to look good, right? Then spend the time and cut one piece at a time. Trust me. You will thank yourself later.
Remember the key to accurate matching: your pattern seamlines must match perfectly before you even touch the fabric.
Walk or measure each seamline you want to pattern match. The photos in this tutorial are of a mid-1840s bodice back. Notches help here, but for this method you want to concentrate on even seamlines.
If your back piece along the princess seam is 9-3/8″ then make sure your matching side back piece seamline is also 9-3/8″ long. You may have to adjust the length of either piece in the middle or at the bottom (but not at the armhole usually).
Determine if your stripe has a top & bottom direction or even a left & right. You’ll want to pay attention to this direction when cutting.
Cut your main bodice piece first – usually center back. If you have a center back seam, cut one half first like the right hand side here.
Position the stripe to where you want it to run within the piece. It’s always best to have the main motif or largest stripe running along the fullest part of the piece. But position it where you feel it has the most emphasis.
Lay your cut center back piece on top of the fabric, aligning the stripes, and with enough fabric to cut out your matching piece. This part is where it counts.
Clip into the seam allowance of the two paper pattern pieces you want to align – here the center back and side back pieces. Clip at intervals and fold up along the seamline on both patterns
Lay the center back paper pattern on top of the cut fabric piece. Keep the seam allowance folded up. Pin to hold if needed.
Lay the side back paper pattern on the fabric aligning the seamlines of both paper pattern pieces. Here the seam allowances are folded out of the way so you concentrate on the seamline only.
Be attentive in matching up the seamline intersection at the armhole /princess seam.
Pin the outer edges of the side back piece to hold in place. Be extra careful here not to move the cut center back fabric section or the paper pieces.
Gently remove the center back pattern and cut fabric piece.
Finish pinning the side back piece. Remember to unfold the seam allowance! Cut out the side back.
Pin the seam matching the seamlines of both pieces. Stitch. Sometimes you have to tweak the fabric a little as it goes through your machine so the stripes stay aligned. You can also hand baste the seamline for a super matched stripe!
Repeat for the other half of the bodice. Follow the same steps if matching a center back seam – cut out one side, fold up the seam allowances, and match the pattern for the other side.
Not too hard, huh? It can be done by beginners and professionals alike. Of course, the toughest part is finding the patience to go slow.
Have you tried this method to match stripes? Do you pattern match another way? Share with us!