Do you shy away from sewing with stripes? Liz Haywood shares her top tips on making this process easy!
The first step in matching stripes on a garment is cutting it out so they match at the seams. Read my post on Cutting Stripes and Checks here
However, even when the pieces are cut with the stripes matching, they'll still need to be matched during the sewing process.
How do I sew stripes so they match?
Lay the raw edges of the seam together, loosely matching the stripe positions. Place your thumbnail on the intended stitching line then flip back the seam allowance to see where the stripes lay. Adjust the stripes so they're sitting perfectly on top of one another.
Flip the seam allowance back and put a pin across the seam right through the matching stripes. Do this for the whole seam - depending on your stripe width you can pin every stripe or every several stripes. Sew the seam very carefully over each pin, then take them out.
If you don't pin the stripes, the fabric will move under the presser foot as it feeds through the machine.
Factory machinists don't use pins. They have great empathy with fabric from handling it all the time, and they can judge how much the fabric will shift under the presser foot and make allowances for it as they sew.
What if I match the stripes and the seam lengths don't match? Which do I give priority to?
Give priority to the stripes if the discrepancy isn't much – it's OK to shift the seam slightly. Notches on the pattern may not match either, but again, go by the stripe. If the stripes are way off, you won't be able to match them.
What if I'm sewing the whole garment on an overlocker?
Matching stripes or checks on an overlocker can be difficult because obviously you can't sew over pins or you'll ruin the cutting blade. For reliable results, stitch the seam first on a regular machine using a long stitch and taking the correct 6mm (¼in) seam allowance. Check that the stripes match perfectly, then overlock over the top. You don't have to undo the straight stitching - pull gently on the seam to crack the stitching if the fabric is stretchy.
Matching stripes on darts
If you're sewing darts in striped fabrics, you might need to adjust the position of the darts to fit the stripes.
For vertical darts in horizontal stripes, the centre of the stripe needs to be perpendicular to the stripes.
If it isn't, the stripes won't meet when the dart is sewn up. To adjust the darts, use an L-square to make the centre line of the dart exactly vertical.
For vertical stripes with vertical darts, or horizontal stripes with horizontal darts, the finished darts need to run in the same direction as the stripes. If they don't the stripes will appear to be broken when the dart is sewn.
To adjust this, match one side of the stripe with the dart.
The same idea can be used for the waist darts in skirts
Now you’ll have beautifully matching stripes. Why not give it a go?
Author: Liz Haywood