Cutting Checks and Plaids – Part 1

Cutting checks isn’t hard at all, so don’t let that idea prevent you from giving them a go!  It does require some extra time and planning though – trying to do it in a rush isn’t really a good idea!


Here are a few general tips from me:

  • Lay up your cloth, lay out the pattern pieces and decide where everything is going to match first vertically, then horizontally. 
  • Draw guidelines and match points on your pattern to remind you where everything is planned to line up – you’ll spot a few random scribbles on mine!  
  • Remember that you need to match the stitching lines, not the cutting lines.   
  • When all planning is done, doublecheck everything!



So, where should we be matching our checks anyway?

The answer is, it depends on your check and your pattern. Sometimes you can wangle things to match everywhere possible, sometimes you just have to accept that the centre and sides are all that will match.  You are limited by the design of your check, but you are not necessarily limited by the design of your pattern – you can easily shift a dart or seam slightly, to better suit the size of your check or centre things up.  
Here’s what I did as an example – I was able to match checks in the following places:

 Vertical matching:

  • CB seam (bodice and skirt) = centre of red stripe (A)
  • CF seam (bodice and skirt) = centre of red stripe (B)
  • I moved the back darts laterally about 6mm, so they were centred on a red stripe – to produce a symmetrical dart when sewn. (C)
  • I narrowed the skirt a fraction so the stripes matched vertically at the side seam (not visible here)
  • The shoulder seam couldn’t be matched without adjusting the CF or CB stripe – that would have affected the skirt side seam, which I decided was a greater priority.
  • Centre of sleeve = centre of red stripe (D)
Horizontal matching:
  • CB seams (E)
  • Side seams (bodice and skirt) (F)
  • Side front seam above dart (G)
  • I increased the front dart intake slightly to enable stripes to match below the dart too (H)

  • I placed the dart along a blue stripe, but I could have adjusted the dart angle to make it fully symmetrical with the stripes matching vertically too.  (I)
  • The back and front armhole notches were positioned on a blue stripe, so the corresponding sleeve notch was too. (J) (If the sleeve head is the right shape, and the ease is the right amount, you can often match the stripes right up to the shoulder seam.  This worked on the back armhole, but the front sleeve head was steeper and it wouldn’t match – mmm… it would have been good if it was the other way around!)

I’m just finishing this dress now, and promise to take photos of all the matching (and non-matching) bits so you can see the end result!  Next up – more handy check-cutting tips!

Happy sewing 🙂

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

20 thoughts on “Cutting Checks and Plaids – Part 1

  1. I really appreciate your excellent construction posts.I will definitely come back to it when I have some fortitude and am cutting out some checks,but shamefully admit that just this evening, it is making my brain hurt. Maybe a nice abstract small print is more my cup of tea this evening!

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  2. Thank you so much for this interesting post. If it's possible to install a translater it will be easier for me and perhaps others to understand the whole post faster.
    Have a nice week
    Roswitha

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  3. OoOoH! Very helpful and easy to understand guide, thanks so much for this… I now feel I may just tackle my tartan fabric that my mum got me for christmas!

    Yes, Christmas….

    Thanks again, Bundana x

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  4. I like that this is a princess seam. Very helpful since I just bought the new Vogue Claire Shaeffer Chanel style jacket pattern and the fabric is a houndstooth. I bought plenty extra so if I can pull it off on the first try, and your tutorial is so very helpful, there may be enough for a straight skirt. Thanks for the tips.

    Theresa in Tucson

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  5. I like these side panels too as they tend to suit me, and it also avoided too many distracting interruptions with darts at the waist and underarm.
    I think the Clare Schaeffer pattern has 3 piece sleeves? That will be fun! Extra fabric is always a safe idea, I usually buy plenty whatever I'm making.
    You've gotta start a blog Theresa and show us!

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  6. That is immensely impressive. I'm glad that you say sometimes you just have to accept that the centre and sides are all that will match. That's encouraging. But you have still inspired me to try and push the boundaries next time! Looking forward to the finished article!

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