One of the biggest pet peeves is seeing unmatched prints, stripes and plaids on RTW (ready-to-wear) garments. It seems so lazy! Especially on higher end garments. (This shirt isn’t high-end but still! Not even the slightest effort to match the plaids..)
Since I’m a production manager as my day job, I know that it costs extra to match your seamlines. It uses more fabric, requires special markers, and increases the sew price charged by factories. So I can see why people cut costs by not matching prints, plaids or stripes.
But that’s the wonderful thing about sewing your own clothes, you can take the extra time to get it right!
When I cut out the Coral Garden skirt, I wanted to get it perfect. Matching the print along the centre back seam is a little touch that makes it extra special, and adds to the beauty of the print. It would be really distracting if there were mismatching coral pieces along the back. Plus, most of my readers are people who sew, you guys would spot the mis-match right away!
I thought I’d share how I matched the print along the seamline. If you have a different technique that works for you, please let me know!
NOTE: you may need more fabric than your pattern asks for to match prints, especially large-scale prints.
Also, we’ll be cutting our fabric open, with the printed side facing up.
First, cut out your first piece you need to match. In this case, I’m matching the centre back seam. I have to cut two side back pieces. Instead of cutting the piece once, through two layers of fabric, we’ll be cutting this pattern piece twice through a single layer of fabric.
When I laid out my first piece, I had a general idea of where to place my second piece. Especially with a very large print, I needed to make sure if I was cutting a half-shape along centre back, that I also had enough room to cut out the other half of the shape along the opposing seamline. (This may be a bit confusing! Watch and hopefully it will make more sense as I go.)
Here’s my left back piece. I’m going to be matching the right edge to the right back piece. Press under the seam allowance along the centre back seam. This will be the line we need to match against our right back piece.
Then, lay the left back fabric panel on the fabric, matching the print pattern as you go. See how I’m lining up the dark coral squiggly lines?
Now, take the pattern tissue, and press under 5/8″ seam allowance. This will help us line up our right back along the matching line.
Line up the folded edge of the pattern tissue along the left back fold line.
The edges should meet, fold to fold, with no space between.
Now pin the pattern tissue to the single layer of fabric around all edges. After pinning around the edges of the tissue, lift off the left back fabric panel. Unfold the centre back seam allowance on the tissue piece, and pin along the edge.
Cut out right back skirt piece.
All this hard work and attention while cutting out will pay off when we sew up the centre back seam. I inserted an invisible zipper, and stitched the centre back seam below, and look! A beautifully matched seam.
Close-up of the invisible zipper – yes, it matched up on the first try!
From far away you can’t even tell there’s a seam – which is the ultimate goal. You may want to baste the seam before stitching for even more accuracy. Baste the seamline, press open to check the print matching, and if you’re happy with it, stitch the seam.
Hope this was helpful. Stay tuned for photos of the finished skirt!