Matching Fabric Patterns When Sewing Seams

Recently, a reader asked if I could cover how to match fabric patterns when sewing seams.  It’s a good thing I can show you about decorator fabric techniques, because clothing stuff is complicated!  So,  please don’t ask me about sewing clothing.  (Please!)

But, matching can be easy when sewing widths of decorator fabrics together along the selvage.

Pattern Matching Seams

It’s a general acceptance that most window treatment and home decor workrooms use serging machines.   These time-saving machines sew seams at 1/4″, rather than the 5/8″ seam allowance in clothing.

Most decorator fabric manufacturers have adapted their pattern matched edges to be at 1/4″ from the selvage.

As you can see above, it’s fairly easy to follow the pattern for finding a match.  But, you have to remember that we’re looking from the under side of the seam, so it can be confusing.  There’s a trick, though, that makes it very easy to match the patterns perfectly.

Simply line up the plus signs along the selvage edges and lay them together.

Matching Patterns Perfectly

Sew your seam at 1/4″ from the matched selvage edges (that white edge), and the pattern match comes out pretty close to exact.  If you have a serger, run your cutting knife along the very edge of the selvage.

It’s easy to flip back the upper selvage as you sew to make sure the plus sign is aligned correctly.

Voila!

Seam Sewn and Pattern Matched

And…

Just when you thought, “That is so easy,”  I thought you should know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

While that type of pattern match with the selvage edge plus sign is oh-too-easy, there is another type altogether.

Do you see how this fabric has no plus sign?  Also, when you lay one edge against the other, you have to lay the fabric over a good distance from one selvage to find a match.

Difficult Pattern Match

Here’s how to match this type of fabric.

Fold the upper fabric’s selvage edge under to match along the selvage edge of the fabric laying under.  Find the match and pin it along the edge there.  We’re doing this to get a measurement, so we don’t have to pin the entire piece of fabric.  Yet.

Pinned at Pattern Match

Flip your pinned piece over and measure selvage edge to selvage edge.   See the reverse side of the white selvage edge?  We’re going to sew along that edge while keeping the under fabric at the measured distance for a perfect match.  (Oops, my measuring tool shifted a tish for the picture.)

Measuring Seam Allowance

You can include the fringe or not include the fringe.  Your choice.  Just be consistent.  Whatever your measurement from point to point, keep the same measurement points throughout the process.

When you have your measurement, remove the pins holding the matched edge and lay your pieces smooth, with right sides together. Pin the selvage edges at the measurement you took.

Ready to Sew

If you trust yourself to hold everything steady, just hold it as you sew.  (Gee, you must be an expert!)

Sewing Seam

OK, so here’s my fabric, pinned, and you see where I’m sewing – along the selvage edge, but not sewing into the white selvage.

Sewing Pattern Match

Here’s the matched seam complete.

Pattern Matched Seam

Press the seam, stand back and admire your match.  If there are any slightly off-match spots, it won’t be noticed – as long as the majority of the piece matches.

There may be a billion ways to pattern match, but this is the technique I use and wanted to share with you.  If you already have your own technique that works, please continue with that.

I use the saying often, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  That applies here, too.

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Comments

  1. Cheryl says

    Thank you so much for sharing your pattern matching techniques! I’m a beginner at sewing and I think I can do this! I’m going to be making curtains for our guest bedroom with a patterned fabric and I’ve been looking forward to this post! Thank you so much!

  2. Libba Criddle says

    Great lesson Kim. I hope some of the younger women get in on your blog. I’m always seeing, on FB, where someone is asking how to sew something, usually something really simple. Is it okay if I post your blog address on my FB page?

  3. says

    Matching pattern can be very tricky, and you’ve done a great job showing how to. Some readers are going to really appreciate your helpful hints when they tackle it.

  4. Stephanie says

    This is such a great explanation! I don’t even want to tell you how I was doing this before. I pinned this for the future. Thanks!

    • Kim Hood says

      Thank you, Stephanie! It’s nice to find others who sew. We need to stick together. 😉 Have a great weekend!

    • Kim Hood says

      You’re welcome, Athena! I’m glad you found it useful for you. 🙂 Thank you for visiting.

  5. says

    Kim….this is such a helpful piece of advice. I’ve been sewing a long time and I never knew this. That’s why you’re the “curtain queen”!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing this at Project Inspire{d}!!
    Hope your week is Extraordinary!!