Pattern Matching

Summer is just round the corner but it’s anyone’s guess if we will actually be enjoying any form of normality this year but this doesn’t mean I can’t prepare. Lockdown has been brutal to me. Working from home coupled with a lack of exercise has made me put on weight. Comfort eating has also been rife and when I recently put on a pair of trousers, I was shocked that it was tight around the waist. I was lazy for the whole of 2020 so I think it’s about time for me to put in some effort in 2021 to look after my health. So what better motivation than to make a wardrobe with some summery garments to usher the bright times ahead.

Part of my motivation also stems from the fact that the Great British Sewing Bee is back on TV. The theme for last week was summer and what better than a Hawaiian shirt. I even have the best fabric for this shirt ready.

This fabric popped up while I was searching for tencel fabric on the internet. This seems to be my go to type of fabric at the moment as I am keen to use sustainable fabrics as much as possible, even better if it’s remnants or surplus to requirement. This seems to be the case with this fabric as it was designed for a clothing company called ‘Band of Outsiders’ but the fabric is being sold by a third company which may mean that it is no longer being used by the company.

Anyway, back to the Great British Sewing Bee and there was a lot of talk about pattern matching. The thing is when do you pattern match and when do you not. The first thing to watch is the repeat of the print. If the print is inconsistent, e.g. done by hand or without any consistency to the flow of the print, I would not bother trying to match as it will not be possible. In such a case, I would purposely make sure that the print is as mis-matched as possible. Nothing is worse than not matching the print but for it to nearly match as it would look like a failed pattern matching exercise. Secondly, I would also usually match the pattern on bigger prints and avoid it when the prints are tiny as the effort would be too small to notice.

Sustainability also comes into play when matching fabrics. Some print have huge repeats which means that a lot of fabric is required to ensure that a small part of the garment pattern matches (usually the centre front or back). If there is going to be a huge wastage, then I would not bother with pattern matching. Why waste fabric that could otherwise produce another garment.

If these points satisfy my requirement, then I would always pattern match. After all, if you spent the effort in actually making a garment, you might as well make sure that it is executed as professionally as possible. Pattern matched garments are always a sign of quality because of the time and effort required to cut the fabric out. I know some fabrics are specifically designed to ensure that pattern matching is not only possible but as cost effective as possible (i.e. little wastage). I think this fabric that I bought falls into that category.

So how do you pattern match? It can be like a puzzle but once you get it, the process if very straight forward. Pattern matching is easy if you are matching to a seam but can get complicated if it is an overlap like the button stand on a shirt. I tried explaining it but the description read like someone who has had too much to drink so I illustrated it instead.

Obviously you will need to check your pattern before attempting this as this only works with a shirt pattern with a single fold back button stand. I understand some button stands fold back twice so it means an extra fold back to the twice folded back button stand. Confused? Carefully observing the workings of the pattern will make more sense of this technique.

Pattern matching done, I spend the whole day sewing this shirt. I tried to savour this exercise as it has been such a long time I sewed anything. Sewing can be so calming and peaceful (if you know what you are doing).

This fabric has such a wonderful weight to it. Soft and silky but drapes well.

Now I am wondering if I should alter my trousers so I can wear them with this shirt or wait till I slim down a bit. I guess if I wait a while, the satisfaction will be more gratifying and less of a hassle when I have to alter the trousers back to a smaller size when I lose weight.

I still have enough fabric to make a summer dress for mom. It’s been such a long time since I saw her due to the pandemic but when we finally meet, mom and I are going ‘matchy-matchy’ when we go out.


About syvyaw

Eat, sleep and think Fashion.


  1. Violet

    I wish we could get GBSB here in NZ. Its only on cable TV but not Netflix or the other internet based subscriber channels. I put on and lose weight every few years so have a set of bottoms that fit in each of 2 sizes. Maybe it’s time to start putting elastic in the sides, like for kids trousers? Its certainly fashionable in women’s sewing right now.

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