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This sewing tip was originally featured in Threads #172 (April/May 2014).
Plaids are a perennial fashion favorite for every season. The design may be woven into fabric or printed on its surface. Plaid comes in every fiber type imaginable, from silk chiffon, jersey knit, and taffeta, to wool, flannel, and fleece. Sewing plaid fabrics can be tricky, so here are some tips to ease the way.
• Choose a garment pattern with minimal seams; avoid princess seams, slanted darts, and circular yokes.
• Buy extra fabric. Multiply the length of the plaid repeat (the length needed for the horizontal bars to form one complete design) by the number of large pattern pieces.
• Relate the plaid’s scale to your body size: small plaids for small bodies, large plaids for large bodies.
• Ideally, plaid repeats should run continuously around the body and from shoulder to hem, with minimal interruptions.
• To cut plaid fabric, spread it in a single layer and arrange the pattern pieces in a “with nap” layout.
• Place the plaid’s most visually dominant vertical bar at the center front, center back, and sleeve lengthwise center.
• Place the most dominant horizontal bar at a flattering position on the body, such as the hem or waist, but not the hips or bust.
• To match plaids, fold back the seam allowances on adjoining pattern pieces and align the design’s bars at the seamlines.
• It’s most important to match plaid at the high neck point, shoulder point, hems, base of armscye, base of sleeve cap, and the center back of a collar with the bodice center back.
-Sharon Blair, sewing instructor and owner of Portland Sewing, Portland, Oregon. PortlandSewing.com