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Working With Plaids and Stripes

Do you tremble a bit when a customer brings in stripes or plaids for you to work with?  Are you a little uneasy and just “hope” you’ll be able to do a good job?

Plaids and stripes are not that difficult to work with when you know a few rules, and most especially if you can make up a chart for your customers to educate them about “even” and “uneven” stripes or to make them aware of whether the stripes on a piece of fabric runs “lengthwise”, “crosswise” or “diagonally”.

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!

Following are some hints and pointers regarding stripes and plaids that must be taken into account as you prepare the fabric for cutting.

**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 anged 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 the 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.

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

**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.

**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” pattern layout.

The extra precaution taken at the beginning of the project will be well worth the effort as your customer proudly shows off the completed garment.

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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