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PatternReview Blog > Matching Plaids: A Tutorial - Part 3
Matching Plaids: A Tutorial - Part 3 By DianeSev on 7/11/13 1:04 PM

by mportuesisf


How did it turn out in the finished shirt? Not perfect, but not bad either.

Side Seams

The side seams involve mainly matching horizontal features.

Because the side seam is curved, vertical features simply will move in and out of the seam. The horizontal features matched up very well, though the large pink lines sometimes didn’t match perfectly at a few points along the seam. This despite pinning the fabric before stitching and using the walking foot.  

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 1

Left-hand side seam 

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 2

Right-hand side seam


Shoulders are a mixed bag. The left-hand shoulder was a dead-on match of the vertical features with the back side: 

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 3

Left shoulder

whereas the right-hand shoulder was off.  

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 4

Right shoulder

I think this was because I was trying too hard to continue the vertical features from the left front side, across the front band, to the right side of the shirt when I was laying out the right-hand front piece. I should have matched the vertical shoulder stripes instead.

Front Band

The front band matched nicely on both left and right sides.

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 5

Left-side front band  

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 6

Right-side front band

What didn’t turn out perfectly was the continuation of the vertical features across the center line of the shirt. When the shirt is buttoned, there’s a repeat of the vertical white stripe rather than a nice continuation of the pattern:

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 7

Buttoned shirt. The vertical pattern doesn’t continue perfectly across the front band.

Again, if I had matched both fronts vertically at the shoulder line, then matched the front band vertically to the fronts, I’m pretty sure everything would have turned out perfectly. Something to try next time.


The pocket turned out terrific, though truth be told, the pocket is probably one of the easiest things to get right. You can tweak the positioning so that the plaids line up every time. The initial pattern layout/cutting work is to make sure you don’t have to tweak the placement much.

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 8

Front left-side patch pocket


Since the collar is cut perpendicular to the other pieces, we just match one feature – the pink stripe at center. That went well.  

Matching Plaids Part 3 Image 9

Collar, rear view. Pink center lines almost match.


My skills at plaid-matching are definitely a work-in-progress. I may revisit this blog post in the future with a followup, with more specific suggestions for matching at tricky spots like front band closures/flys, shoulders and sleeves.

Even though this shirt didn’t turn out perfect, the plaids match much better than those on a commercially-made Ben Sherman shirt in my collection.

And finally, I’ll close with a bit that I learned from BrianSews at the BrianSews blog: when it comes to matching plaids, it’s the thought that counts. If you make the effort to do the matching, even if it doesn’t quite perfectly match, your eye is very forgiving and will overlook those imperfections.

Matching Plaids The finished shirt

The finished shirt

Thanks to mportuesisf for letting us publish this tutorial! 

Visit his blog

Read mportuesisf's review of McCall's 6044. 

mportuesisf is this month's Member in Focus. Read more about him and his sewing philosophy. 

See the other posts in this series:

Matching Plaids - Part 1  
Matching Plaids - Part 2 

Read more about matching plaids. 

Read tips about matching plaids. 

3 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
Ashford said... (7/14/13 7:24 PM) Reply
How did you know that I had a plaid shirt on my sewing list for this season? And, that I was nervous to start it? Your tutorial will help me succeed.
mportuesisf said... (7/14/13 1:06 AM) Reply
What a great tip!! Thanks so much, nancy2001.
nancy2001 said... (7/12/13 9:08 AM) Reply
Thank you for writing this article. Here's another tip: to keep the seams aligned, simply tape them together with two sided tape (Dritz 1/8" Basting Tape from the Wawak/Cleaner's Supply websites) before stitching them with a walking foot.

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