How to Sew Successfully With Plaids and Stripes

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Stripes and plaids! They’re always fashionable and can be made into the most professional appearing garments that can emerge from the sewing room.

Even the prettiest plaid or stripe material can be ruined by careless cutting and sewing. It is imperative, therefore, that you have an understanding of two essential words in the plaid/ stripe jargon: EVEN and UNEVEN.

Fabric can be tested at the time of purchase in order to determine whether the design is even or uneven, which will be important information for selecting the fabric or the pattern that will be used.

Stripes can run lengthwise, crosswise or diagonally. To test lengthwise stripes – make a lengthwise fold, right sides of fabric together; turn back one corner to form a right angle fold – EVEN stripes will match along the angle in width, color and sequence; UNEVEN stripes will not match in all three respects.

In nearly the same way, test cross-wise stripes by folding the fabric CROSSWISE and turn back a right angle corner – check for a match.

Test diagonally striped fabric by placing fabric with (unfolded) surface right side up; for diagonals running from upper left to lower right, turn back a lower left hand corner; for diagonals running the opposite direction, turn back the lower right hand corner – check for match in all respects.

Plaids require more careful scrutiny. Fold a plaid in the same way as a lengthwise stripe, but examine the outside edges of the folded corner, as well as the angle. Everything must match, in all directions.

When purchasing plaid fabric, always buy half a yard extra to allow for matching. Then plan how the plaid or stripe should run. Do you want the main lines to run bias, across or up and down. If the fabric pattern is bold and large, more care is required than for a smaller stripe or plaid.

All of the rules for cutting stripes and plaids can be summed up in one dire warning. Don’t cut until you are sure everything is going to turn out all right!

EVEN stripes are easiest to work with and can meet to form chevron “V’s” without difficulty. UNEVEN lengthwise stripes will chevron only if the fabric is reversible. UNEVEN cross- wise stripes will chevron on shaped, curved or bias seams.

Stripes and plaids cannot match in every area, so give priority to side, front armhole and waist seams, or to points where an upper and lower garment meet.

Make all pattern alterations before laying them on the fabric. Cut out even stripes and plaids on pinned double layers, if desired, but cut uneven ones singly and use them with the “with nap” layout.

The extra precaution taken at the beginning of the project will be well worth the effort as you show off the completed garment.

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About the author:

Sarah J. Doyle is author of over 25 sewing, craft and how-to books, as well as author of online pattern making, sewing and craft classes. Visit http://SewWithSarah.com for information on books, classes, newsletters and the latest hints and tips.




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