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Apr 30, 2014

Directional Fabrics Are Challenging!

I am enjoying working with my mint and gray paisley a lot.  But it has presented some challenges.

The large paisley motif is on a diagonal, so I have had to be careful about how I cut my fabric.

The fact that my shirt will have a covered button placket makes things a little bit more complicated, but not much, since the center front of the shirt will still be in the same place.

Since I know where the center front will lie on both front pieces, and that there will be 3/4" of fabric beyond it (from the CF to the front edge), I can figure out where break in the design is going to happen and how to cut my pieces so that the design will be continuous when I lap the left front over the right front to button the shirt.

The width of the left front button placket (1 1/2") is the same amount that the right front will be covered when the shirt is buttoned (and the two center fronts are aligned).

I want the paisley motifs to look like this, maintaining the diagonal:

 And not like this:

I am happy to say that it worked out fine.

On the sleeve placket, I decided not to try to match the paisley at all.  It's not a very visible part of the shirt.

The seam connecting the back and the back yoke is curved, but the curve is only on the back piece and not the yoke (to accommodate a sloping shoulder adjustment).  I decided to match the motif that's most prominent (the one closest to the center) and forget about the rest, since they can't match perfectly.

Another challenge is that the paisley design motif is directional: it has a clear up and down.  The heart shape must come to a point at the bottom, and not the other way around.

I thought I'd made two beautiful cuffs until I finished topstitching them and realized they were upside down.  I'll have to make another pair tomorrow.  Pity.

I haven't cut the collar or collar stand yet; I'm still deciding what shape I want for the collar -- maybe a rounded (club) collar this time.  I also think I'm going to shape the bottom of the shirt so it has traditional shirt tails, as opposed to a straight-across hem.

In closing, if you have any great pattern-matching tips, I'd love to hear them (and I bet others would to).

Speaking of which, I remembered I'd made this plaid Pendleton wool shirt the very first year I started sewing.  I'm still surprised I was able to pull this off. 

I wouldn't want to have to face a plaid like that today.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Sometimes I don't like things so matched. As long as the grain is straight and they're in the right direction. Otherwise you kind of look like a block

  2. I like your idea of curved hem on this shirt. Sometimes straight hems "wing out". Your a might purty good dresser and this will look more soignee. (which is always di riguer) May I say I love that plaid shirt? Pattern everywhere and it all looks great. It sounds like you have evolved, plaid everywhere is sad. Always a treat to read

  3. Love the paisley and the plaid. Yes, bring on the pattern matching tips!

  4. So THIS is one of those mysterious "obvious diagonals" we are always reading about on the backs of pattern envelopes as "being unsuitable for"? AT LAST I see one!

  5. this is probably a "duh" tip-- but i like to trace the print directly onto my tissue pattern piece, cut one, and then use the tracing to help cut the next. but it looks like you don't need a tip ;)

  6. Funnily enough I am giving a lecture about pattern matching in a month's time. There re a couple of good posts on my blog about it.

  7. I think that kind of repeat is called a half-drop.

    1. Thanks, Gavin -- I've learned a new term!

  8. Hello Peter et al:

    To match my fronts, I first cut out the side w/ the buttonholes - (left for my husband, right for me) where I want the "highlight" to be, then fold and press the facing to the inside, place this piece against my fabric - lining up my motifs on the centre front (buttons/buttonholes). I press on the fold line of this piece, then place my pattern piece (remembering to flip either right side or wrong side up depending on which side has already been cut !!!) with the fold line on the line I have pressed and cut out my other front.

    I do try to match the side seams, but usually cannot, so I split the difference of the motif, so it looks balanced, match notches for armscyes and make sure the collar has been centred/balanced for points and back (if in doubt - BIAS IT!)

    This may sound complicated but once you do it, it does make sense. Always remember - measure twice (at least) cut once.


  9. I've learned so much from this post! I've been sewing with my daughters and two of their friends and one wants to do a bold print skirt this summer. These tips will help so much - Thank you!

  10. Your attention to craftsmen ship is very nice.

  11. I think you're absolutely right to take care with the pattern as you have. If you hadn't, your eye would have gone to it immediately every time you looked at the shirt, and you'd have ended up wearing it less. Whereas now, because you'll feel pleased with it, you'll like it and wear it more!

  12. I do find it really hard to pattern match, but it's very pleasing when you get it just right. I was using Vogue V8759 men's shirt recently, the front and sleeve plackets are additional to the front and sleeves themselves, this was really handy with a gingham fabric for matching. I cut on the bias for the yoke though. Love the paisley shirt and will have to look out for a similar pattern for myself.

  13. You lined up your pattern very accurate,but i have another tip for You.
    when you position Your paper pattern on the fabric, always match the center back and center front (the button line, not the edge!) with the symmetry-center line of the print. In this case it would be the vertical line through the heart shapes. So the center of the pattern, the center of the shirt and the center of your body will match in the finished shirt and everybody´s eyes and attention will be lead to your face.
    This is also true for patterns with less obvious main pattern shapes. Even prints that are not symmetrical can have an optical main vertical line that should meet the center line of the garment.
    Following this rule can also make very busy or bold patterns less distracting from the wearer.

  14. Matching patterns can be rather irritating, but so worth the extra effort! Can't wait to see this shirt finished - the fabric is gorgeous!!


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