Pattern Matching Blues (or Pinks!)

Floral Dress Love Sewing Magazine

The upside of moving home is that I had to go through all the boxes of fabric I had stashed away in the loft, there were some beautiful fabrics so I decided to challenge myself to use them up before buying any more.

I had this lovely floral light cotton so long I could not remember buying it! Sometimes I just want to make something without all the pattern adaptation and drafting, so I thought I would use the Love Sewing Kate Jersey pattern again. Of course, it wasn’t quite straightforward, I used the slash technique to add a few inches – as it was a pattern designed for stretch fabric –  I was using cotton I added a few inches around the hips.

Pattern placement frustrates me – I see such beautiful garments on Pinterest, like this beauty currently on sale at Liberty, but they have been specially made with the garment design in mind. I just love the centre panel, the way it reflects across the tummy -a great hiding place for a few pounds, and the cross section reduces the hips – but it is nigh on impossible to do if you are a home sewer!

The fabric stores I frequent don’t seem to have these forms of pattern repeats so I end up turning my pattern pieces in all directions to get something pleasing. The bodice top just wouldn’t work with the large floral motifs of the fabric, I ended up with a flower on one side and half a feather and blank white on the other side.

Not to be thwarted I headed to  the fabulous Eternal Maker with fabric – (I will write a post about them soon). The store is positively heaving with various types of cloth in every shade of the rainbow, but only one fabric would match the colourway: this pink honeycomb design. I tried all the greens – as it would have  been more subtle, but the shade just did not match anything in the store.  If you want to ensure your colours match use the little printed dots on the selvage as a guide.


Pattern matching uses up more fabric – especially with a big floral design – I usually purchase at least 3 meters if I think there might be a problem so there was plenty to play with. In order to bring the two fabrics together, I appliqued one of the motifs to the mid-section of the garment, using the flower that closely matched the colour of the top.

If you are matching a pattern over two pattern pieces it can help to cut out the upper or lower  pattern edges in tracing paper or baking parchment, you can trace the flowers to ensure they match up.

Because of this bold pattern, it was simply a case of choosing a central element, lining  up the feather  to flow from the applique down the central panel of the skirt, I also liked the way the two yellow flowers curved round the hips. I used the nice yellow flower as the centre panel for each sleeve just below the sleeve cap as that would be noticable.

Thankfully the honeycomb was small enough that I did not need to pattern match, although I used pink facing at the front and floral facing at the back of the garment.


I  often wear floral brooches with my clothes – since I had the applique bug, I thought I might add a flower on the right-hand side of the neckline, overhanging the edge, although  I can’t decide if it is a bit OTT, what do you think?

I was thinking about doing a pleated contrast edge at the sleeves and bottom of the dress, but then I thought that was too coordinated, so might just do it at the cuff.

Hmm… with? or without?…

Mr. D thinks the dress is colourful enough, wearing sunglasses to look at it was pushing the point a little far!

Spring is sprung here comes the sun!

ttfn x






Tips for Knits! – Jersey Kate Dress, Love Sewing Magazine

tips for stretch fabrics-3


Many retailers are making clothing in Knit fabrics because it allows for more flexibility with sizing – but they offer a challenge to the home sewer that is easy to overcome.

Stretch fabrics have a life of their own – Jersey is a very finely knitted fabric which can be made from many different fibres from cotton to polyester. Some might shy away from Polyester, but recent developments have produced blends that are warm, soft and fluid, like the fabric I chose for my project.

So here are my top tips for successful sewing with Knits:

Made for mi tips for stretch knits one layer at a time

Cut your fabric in one layer

Most patterns are made to be cut on the fold, but with stretch fabrics the lower part of the fabric can shift. It is best to draft a new patten piece and cut a single layer. If you don’t have any pattern paper, you can lay the pattern out on one side, then turn it over to cut the second side making sure you don’t disturb the fabric.

The left hand square was cut on the fold, the right and square cut in a single layer. Notice how much the left hand square has grown on the left side almost 5cm! The left hand side  was the underside of the fabric when it was being cut.

Don’t cut out your fabric all at once – cut each piece as you sew – the less time the fabric has to move the better the stability and the more likely the piece will retain its shape.

tips for stetch knits made for mi

Use a rotary cutter and self healing mat

The fabric shifts and moves easily! Take care not to shift the fabric around while cutting – I caught the bottom of my fabric pulled it slightly during cutting, I thought I had rectified it but when I compared the pattern to the fabric, I had cut the bottom edge 1/2 inch smaller!

The act of cutting with scissors lifts the fabric – causing it to stretch and move. A rotary cutter puts downward pressure on the fabric and anchors it in place while cutting.  Accuracy will improve and it is easier to follow the sharp armhole curves.


Use a stretch needle

These are different to ball point needles – they are coated with anti-static, which prevents the fabric from sticking to your needle, causing skipped or missing stitches. They also have ball points that move the needle between the knit rather than piercing the threads and causing a ‘run’ (it looks like a ladder that you see in tights!).

Madeformi tips for stretch knits use a walking foot

If you don’t have an overlocker – use a Walking Foot.

Overlockers are made for stretch fabrics – they have what is called a differential feed – that means two sets of feed dogs, one on the bottom that feeds the fabric through, and one on the top that pushes the fabric out.

An overlocker can push more fabric though the bottom than is being pushed out at the top and visa versa – hence the term ‘differential’. The seam created has a little stretch of its own.

If you plan on making lots of stretch fabrics it is worth the investment of an overlocker, it speeds up the making process by neatening the edges as the garment is sewn.

A walking foot – creates an upper fabric feed system to work with the feed dogs so that your sewing machine can create a similar seam – it works very effectively and allows a little more control when stitching.


Use the right stitch

If you are using your sewing machine – ensure that you use a knit stitch  or if not set your width just above zero so that each stitch is a tiny zigzag, this will give your stitching the flexibility to  move with your fabric as it expands and contracts.


Use the right thread

Let there be a harmonious marriage between  fabric and thread. Natural fabrics need natural threads, synthetic fabrics need synthetic thread – polyester knits are best stitched with polyester thread, cotton with cotton – save your sanity and seam ripper!

tips for stretch fabrics

Stabilise necklines with twill tape or ribbon

Necklines will grow – more so with stretch fabrics. Stabilise them by stitching a narrow twill tape or ribbon just inside the seam allowance.  Do this immediately after cutting this piece and you will reduce the opportunity for growth!

You can use the iron on hemming tape for speed but it is not as durable.

Use more stable fabrics for facings

Facings are often used around necklines and armholes – because they lay inside the garment you can use more stable fabrics such as cotton or fleece. Or in this sample above I placed the facing on the outside using black wool.

Try to ensure that the facing fabric matches the weight of your knit so that they are balanced.

If you want to use the same fabric  stitch a layer of organza on the inside edge of the facing, this will give the neckline more stability without adding bulk.

Here is my finished Kate Jersey Dress

Happy stitching

Kate Jersey dress finished front