Friday, March 7, 2014

Matchy matchy

Sometimes The Sewing Lawyer actually remembers to use those neat tips and tricks she has heard or read of, or even possibly dreamed up independently in the long-distant past.  Here is one of those.

Waaaay back in 2006 I made a jacket out of fabric that had a little woven pattern.  It was so tiny that it was basically impossible to cut the pieces so they would match, but nevertheless I decided it would look best if it matched horizontally at prominent seams.  I cannot remember where I came up with this idea (or if I got the idea from someone else) but I wrote a PR tip that even got published in Deepika's book (1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips).  It's tip #742 on page 115, if you have the book.

Today, I was trying to figure out how to match the lines in my fabric at the seam between the bodice and the peplum.  Of course, it is impossible to match everything but I had attempted to cut the peplum so it would match vertically and horizontally at CF and CB, where both pieces are on a straight grain in both directions.  However, when I provisionally pinned the pieces together in the conventional way (lining up the cut edges), I discovered I hadn't done such a great job.

My first problem was that I had to re-sew the CB seam in the jacket bodice near the waist/peplum seam so that it would lie exactly in the middle of a square and match the peplum, which has no CB seam, horizontally.  The second problem was that my cutting was off vertically.

Then I remembered this tip.  I'm happy to report that it worked even better today than it did in 2006.  Here it is, for you to use.  That is, if you remember it when you need it.

Start by folding back and pressing the seam allowance on the lower edge of one of the pieces you want to match (here, the jacket bodice).  Make sure that the folded edge looks right in relation to the pattern.  My goal was to have the seam at the same point in the pattern on each side of the jacket at key points (like the side front and side back seams, and both front edges).  I think that as long as you make a good effort in cutting to keep the pieces symmetrical in relation to the pattern, the tiny variations in the width of the SA that may result from this are not that important.

Then lay the pressed edge over the other piece (here, the peplum), and pin them together from the outside through all layers so that they match.  At left is the back.  If you click on the photo you can see how the matching is done.  I started at CB and pinned outward from there, matching the lines vertically and horizontally until the curve of the peplum took over, and then keeping the seam line at the same point in the check pattern of the peplum on either side.

In doing this I pretty much ignored the 5/8" seam allowances on the peplum edge.  The visual symmetry seems more important to me, and I can keep the peplum of a constant width by adjusting the hem line later.

Then, I went to the sewing machine and sewed the pieces together from the right side, using a zig zag stitch that is centred on the seam line.  You can see my stitching was 2.5mm in width and 3.0mm in length.  The goal is to have the needle piercing the folded edge (the jacket bodice) on one side but only the flat piece (the peplum) on the other.  You can do this by eye, but I used a presser foot that has a blade lined up with the needle (I think it is called the narrow edge foot).

Then check your results.  I ripped out some of the stitching where the matching wasn't to my liking, and re-sewed.  Once I was satisfied, I flipped over to the wrong side and unfolded the bodice seam allowance.  The zig zag stitching will allow the piece to lie flat, but the fold and (if you are lucky) a dotted line from the zig zag stitches are both visible.  Sew along the fold, over the visible stitches.

Finally, rip out the line of zig zag stitches.  Now it would have been better if I had researched my tip BEFORE I started because I overlooked one point that would have made this easier:  for the zig zag stitching, use thread of a contrasting colour!  Oh well.

Front - the pocket flap also matches


Behold the results.


  1. Oh, yes looking vey nice! I read a similar tip on Summerset's blog many years ago, except you hand basted rather than zig zag. Worked perfectly!

  2. That is amazing! Such a great result (and a good memory!)

  3. Love this tip and your jacket is looking amazing!

  4. Great tip! And the jacket is looking good!

  5. You are one determined lady and it really pays off!!

  6. Awesome tip, thank you for sharing!

  7. Great tip and a bit easier, faster than slip basting by hand.

  8. Well done . I have used a similar method for sewing princess line seams . The results were very good . I used a hand slip stitch instead of the zig zag . I had forgotten about that . Great tip , thanks for sharing

  9. Very nice results. Thanks for this great tip! It definitely deserved publication in the book.

  10. Beautifully done. Your tips are always welcomed.