Print Matching

It is definitely much easier to just cut out patterns from a fabric that is plain compared to something that has a complicated print, but life is about wearing something that catches the eye rather than blending in with the background. In situations like these, it can be a pain to match all the prints on tartan, gingham or just fabric with a repeating print. It also doesn’t help that sometimes these fabrics do not align properly. And the worst part is the fact that once it is sewn, the mismatch can be so obvious.

So I learnt one very valuable lesson when dealing with fabrics like these. Either to mismatch it (on purpose) completely or to go precise and spend some time matching the pattern pieces to the prints. And sometimes for tartan prints, it’s best to match it completely. I hate it when shops sells expensive clothing with tartan prints but the side seam shows a disjoint in the print. I understand if it is cheap but if it costs an arm and a leg, surely they have the time to pay a bit more attention to the details?

Ranting aside, this conversation came along when I was making myself a pair of tartan trousers. I saw a very pretty Lindsay tartan fabric and had always wanted a vivid red garment (the Chinese see red as a very auspicious colour, hence my attraction to that colour) so instead of wishing for one, I made it myself.

Cutting the fabric was not difficult at all. Here are my tricks in getting the prints matching beautifully.

The first thing to do is to cut the first piece of pattern, e.g. front trousers pattern. Only cut one piece and not the pair for now.

Then, carefully matching the side seams to ensure that the print flows from the front to the back, cut the back piece, also just one piece and not the pair.

Once one side of the pattern has been cut, lay the fabric flat (flip the fabric or pattern over first as it is a mirror of the other side) on the table and over lay the cut piece of pattern on top of the fabric, taking care to match the print.

Repeat on the back pattern. Again, remember to flip the fabric to ensure that you don’t cut the exact same pattern but a mirrored pair!

This ensures that your patterns matches the prints perfectly and all you need to do is to sew carefully. Do remember that this technique only works for repeating patterns that are geometrically equal. If you have repeating flowers, then the left pattern won’t match the right pattern unless the flower prints looks the same when flipped over. In this case, you may not need to match the print at all or at least match it so the print flows from one side to the other.

Anyway, here is the completed piece.

Now matching identical prints is much easier. It still requires time to cut each pattern piece individually but if you are pedantic like me, spending time to ensure the print matches is better than seeing the the ‘mistake’ in the mirror. Or having someone point out that mistake.


About syvyaw

Eat, sleep and think Fashion.


  1. thanks! I tend to avoid prints that can’t be cut out haphazardly, and whenever I’ve tried to pattern match it goes horribly wrong at some of the seams at least.

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