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Hawaiian Shirt–matching the fronts

rtorr | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi. Does anyone know a secret to lining up the pattern repeat at the front of a Hawaiian shirt? I have made a few and sometimes it works better than other times, I have no idea why. (Could be the moon, I suppose.) I lay them out carefully, flipping and checking, but often still have to wiggle the buttons over to one side or the other to match pattern at the placket. Might someone have a hint or two to make this go smoother? Thank you very very much.


  1. starzoe | | #1

    The secret to matching up complicated designs is to cut each piece separately. It takes more fabric but you can usually make a perfect match. p.s. don't forget to cut the second front, back or whatever with right sides together. You don't want two left shirt fronts!

  2. Palady | | #2

    Rule of thumb in Home Decor industry is to purchase 1/4. 3/8. or 1/2 yrd(s) more of fabric for each panel or section of the pattern that needs "matching." Panel for curtains or drapes. Section for upholstery. The amount is governed by the size of the patterned design.

    This can be carried over into fashion sewing. Studying the material, then the pattern's construction, extra yardage is figured for each joining seam. Add this to the amount specified for the pattern.

    When "matching" watch where the notch would fall in the design, and reverse the tissue in a like area when doing the opposing side.

    Be very alert to Starzoe's reminder of avoiding having two like sections. Dare say we've "all-done-it" though.

    To avoid the happening, you can consider using the cut fabric piece as your pattern for the other. Unless the print is woven (both sides have the design) there's less chance of messing up because you'll be placing public sides together.

    When making a pattern having a fold back facing, you might want to do the fold back if you use the pattern piece as your pattern Just to be certain you're "matching" to your liking. BUT ONLY FOR MATCHING. Flatten the piece out to cut.

    An added thought - if you find you're lacking enough material to cut out a pattern with a design, you can substitute a co-ordinating one for hems, facings - including the fold back ones, & under collars. Caveat is - remembering to add seam allowances to BOTH sections to be joined. 1/4" sa, understitched, is workable.


  3. woodruff | | #3

    I make a lot--and I mean a lot--of these shirts for my dh, who lives in them. Tracing off separate left and right front pieces is a sanity-saver. Then, on the left and right pattern pieces, ink in a bright line where the shirt fronts will overlap and meet. This will tell you exactly where the print needs to match up. You can draw a couple of horizontal marks along this line and trace them onto the first piece you cut out to serve as guidelines for matching the other front piece. If your facings are cut-in-one (turnback), you can cut out your first front and fold it under along the facing's fold line and physically move it around on your fabric to locate where the other front piece should be placed.

    I always lay out and cut the left front piece first because that's the side the pocket is on, and you will need to find a bit more fabric further down your yardage if you want your pocket to match perfectly.

    For a perfectly matching pocket, I always trace that pattern piece onto plastic painter's dropcloth and using a permanent Sharpie pen, trace the floral design that's on the cut-out left shirt front. This plastic template can be re-used several times before it is so marked up with different floral patterns that you can't tell where you are anymore.

  4. rtorr | | #4

    Wow, you guys are fast & fabulous, thank you. Don't know why I never thought of tracing out a second front. And the clear pocket w/drawn on print is really excellent. I think I'll try the second front in a clear plastic as well (I have some heavier weight stuff), that should help me out. I just seem to get a little wonky around matching up the imaginary button/button hole lines exactly, maybe I just need to draw it darker. My DH lives in these shirts too. Thank you.

    1. woodruff | | #5

      If you want, you can trace off the line where the buttons and buttonholes go, too. It's often exactly 5/8" from the edge where the facing folds under or is attached if you're using a sewn-on facing. But it's more useful to mark (with chalk or thread) the line where the left facing goes under, because THAT is the place where the prints must match the right side of a man's shirt.

      1. rtorr | | #6

        Thank you again. I think I must be confusing the button line and the facing fold-under line, and that's why I sometimes have to move the buttons further to the edge or further to the middle to get the exact match I crave. I will pay more attention to which line I am using on both fronts, and mark more clearly for myself now. I have 3 lengths to cut out, soon as I clear off the table...

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