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How to Align Stripes Across a Seam

Threads magazine - 176 - Dec. 14/ Jan. 2015 Issue
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This article from Threads #176 (December 2014/January 2015) by Threads contributing editor Louise Cutting contains the incredibly useful secret to matching stripes. Louise writes: Matched stripes are a stealthy detail in a garment. Hardly anyone notices when stripes match across seams (except when they create bold visual designs), and everyone notices when they don’t. Stripes that align across seams are also an indicator of a quality garment. Matching stripes throughout a garment’s body isn’t difficult-it just takes time and patience. I’ll explain an exciting method for matching stripes at key locations on a pattern to get a professional, high-end look. First you’ll learn how to work with balanced and unbalanced stripes, then I’ll show you how to match stripes at the shoulder, and from the lapel to the collar. So go ahead: Sew striped garments without fear of mismatching. When you’re finished, wear your expertly matched stripes with pride.

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  1. User avater LOUISE CUTTING December 3rd

    I find it looks better to have the stripes line up over the shoulders. Depending on the stripe width/even/uneven...it can line up also at the center front.

    Once you mark the stripes across the shoulders also mark the stripe location at the center fronts for several inches in both directions. Thi is one reason why I like to work with both a left and right front tissue.

    Fold the tissue at the front fold lines or in the case of a separate facing piece, fold there. Lay the buttonhole (right front) over the button side (left front) matching the center fronts. See how the stripes look. Usually the eye of the viewer sees the stripes going across the body with the buttons and front opening and doesn't find it a problem. But, the stripes going over the shoulder not matching always looks wrong.

    Hope this helps. Louise

  2. User avater Andysmom November 26th

    I have a question regarding lining up stripes. When I make a shirt and want the front placket to blend seamlessly across the whole front to make it look like it is a piece of fabric that has not been cut, quite often the stripes will not align at the shoulders since the back is on a fold. In a case like this, is it better to not align at the shoulder to keep the look across the front or not have the front stripes look like the fashion fabric?

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