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How to Match Plaid on a Curved-Edge Lapel

Threads magazine - 177 - Feb./Mar. 2015

Learn how to precisely match plaid on a curved-edge lapel with this web extra.

In “Plaid Ambition,” Threads #177 (Feb./March 2015), Threads contributing editor Louise Cutting shares her no-fail techniques for matching plaids across seams.

She focuses on the highly visible lapels in this online step-by-step tutorial below. Apply this technique to both jacket lapels. Be sure to fold under or remove the seam allowances first.

1. Choose a vertical bar for the lapel’s outer edge. Manipulate the cut fabric to make the bar follow the lapel curve. Position the lapel facing pattern under the cut front-jacket section (still pinned to the pattern), wrong sides together and front edge matching. Fold the lapel facing back along the roll line. Register the horizontal bars from the jacket front onto the lapel facing at the curved seamlines.

plaids 1

2. Stabilize the lapel facings. Cut a fabric rectangle large enough for each facing. Block-fuse interfacing to the rectangle’s wrong side. Place a lapel facing pattern on the rectangle’s right side, matching the horizontal registration marks to the appropriate horizontal bars.

3. Align the lapel facing to a dominant vertical bar at the lapel break point. The vertical bar may not align with the lapel edge above and below the break point yet. Pin the pattern to the fabric.

plaids 2

4. Pin-mark the lapel. Place pins about 1-1/2 inches above and below the break point, along the seamline and through the fabric only. With tailor’s chalk, mark the seamline on the fabric between the pins.

plaids 3

5. Prepare to shape the lapel. Remove the facing pattern. Thread a hand-sewing needle with a doubled silk thread. Sew three parallel rows of small running stitches between the pins. Space the rows closely together, and leave thread tails at the end of each row. Thread the needle again with a long doubled silk thread. Sew small running stitches from the lapel facing’s hemline to the top seamline, following the vertical bar placed at the facing’s curved edge. Leave long thread tails at each end.

plaids 4

6. Ease the fabric to the curved edge. Working with the three short rows of stitches first, pull gently on the top and bottom thread tails to slightly ease the fabric so it starts to mimic the curve at the break point. Make sure not to overgather the edge.

7. Position the fabric right side up on an ironing board. Pin the lapel facing pattern onto the fabric rectangle at both ends of the short three rows of stitching. From the top edge of the lapel facing, gently pull the top and bottom thread tails of the stitching line that runs the length of the lapel. Ease the fabric until the thread-marked vertical bar curves to match the curved lapel edge from the top to the break point. Lift the pattern and steam press the curve into the fabric. Let the fabric cool. The lapel facing remains straight below the break point. Before cutting the lapel facing, add the seam allowances back into the pattern.

plaids 5

Will you try this method for matching plaids on curved-edge lapels?


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  1. User avater
    Gozermom | | #1

    The title is misleading - this article is about how to make a vertical line conform to a curved lapel, not matching plaids. I found this article a little difficult to follow; it would have helped if a picture of the final result was included.

  2. user-2592332 | | #2

    It seems counter intuitive to interface before shaping the wool. Why will the interfacing in this case hold the steamed shape?

  3. Sew4Life | | #3

    I was surprised to see that Louise did not take the matching of the upper collar the second step of aligning it horizontally. Would that not have been a good idea? I think the white line looks misplaced and maybe that would have been more aligned if the horizontal were also registered. Would the same little line marked on the pattern be placed in better alignment if it had been shifted to align in both directions? I think that would be what I would do after aligning the bar with the seam line. Maybe that would put the lines off somewhere else, but I would like to know.

  4. DaveHaynes | | #4

    I was surprised too!

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