Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Shirtwaist post ... 2 = Tips for Cutting and Matching Plaid

Well, I finally finished the shirtwaist dress that I talked about here.  It was quite a feat matching all that plaid. And because I am lame and didn't post my progress I as I went along, I have to play catch up now. Or maybe I should say I have to plaid catch up. Get it? (collective groan)

So here you go with Shirtwaist post ... 2 = Cutting Plaid

I decided to use a beautiful Jewel hued plaid for my Burda Style pattern 7179. This is the second time that I have used plaid and have learned to match it very carefully. Here are a few tips for cutting and matching plaids....

Tip #1
Always figure out if the plaid is directional, either vertically, horizontally or both. This will effect the direction you can lay your pattern pieces.

My plaid was directional only on the weft, which means that there were horizontal stripes that weren't perfectly symmetrical with the repeat.  I made the mistake of cutting the skirt pattern pieces one way and the bodice patterns pieces another way. Luckily I can pretend it was intentional (don't tell anyone). You have to look pretty hard to notice. But I was sure pissed when I realized that mistake!!!

Tip #2
Find the dominant characteristics of the plaid and use them as guides and balance lines.  For example; I decided that the red skinny line in the teal stripe was my center front. Then I always knew where I had placed the center front line when I was cutting and sewing.  It also creates a nice visual effect having a bold line run all the way down the garment front and back.
Matching the plaids on the bodice front.

 Tip #3

Cut only one layer of fabric at a time. Use the first layer as a pattern for the second layer so you can match the stripes. If the pattern calls for cutting on the fold use the dominant line you chose as a guide to place the pattern fold edge.

Tip #4
When cutting plaid to match, cut the major pieces first. Not only does this insure that plaid matches on these (which is the most important), you can also use the cut parts of the garment as guides to match almost all the rest. I cut the bodice front first, then the bodice back, matching side seams and shoulders (where possible). Then I cut the skirt front, matching the bodice vertical lines starting from center front. Because the skirt has darts, the plaid didn't match all the way through to the side seams. That's fine though. I matched the horizontal stripes at the side seams with the skirt front and the skirt back. When I cut the skirt back I was able to match the center back line I had decided on earlier and the horizontal stripes on the skirt front!

Tip #5
Keep the pattern pieces on till you sew. Make sure you know which is the front and which is the back. And also make sure to clip all markings  and the seam allowance.

Some times working with plaid can be extra confusing because there is so much visual information. But as long as you take it slow and make sure you know exactly where you are in the process it can be a piece of cake.  And you know what? If the plaids dont match up perfectly, there are very few people who will really notice. Just keep calm and carry on.

Phew!!! I feel like I have more tips but I will have to give them later.

Please feel free to ask any questions!
See you soon!

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