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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, May 22, 2015


I have to say something came in through my inbox this week that disturbed me. It was this picture for a new Morris jacket pattern from Grainline Studios:

You know I have had excellent experience with Grainline. I have made and worn both the Archer shirt and Adler dress and I like them both. 

A lot.

But this sample garment disturbed me because the stripes don't match along the very obvious centre back seam, and judging from the difference of the stripes at the front points, the stripes don't match along centre front either. The side seams I can't comment on because the sleeves cover them.

Listen you all know I am not the world's most fussy sewer. 

I worry a lot more about the outside looking good than I do about the inside looking as good as the outside. (Sorry mom and both sewing grandmothers).

I am after all the person whose nerves were so frayed by a largely hand-stitched Chanel jacket that I almost took it out onto the driveway and drove the SUV back and forth over it. I would have done that in fact but the garbage men came first.

But I am just disappointed to see such an obvious lack of care here. That these stripes are out of whack in a promotional photo for a new pattern described in glowing terms bothers me.

It is like when you go all out to a very nice restaurant and then you notice that there is someone else's bright red lipstick on your glass - sort of makes you wonder if they are wearing their hairnets in the kitchen.

Bit of a let down.

The thing is matching stripes is real easy.

The trick is to cut out single layer. 

You will never get it right if you are working blind with one layer hidden underneath. Fabric, particularly striped fabric, likes to move around under there.

If your pattern piece is in two parts like this back with a centre back seam, all you have to do is cut out one, flip it over so you're getting same sides together, and fiddle around with it so the stripes on the bottom piece are in the exact same place as you see the stripes on the top piece. Then you just cut around the pinned pattern piece as it lays on the bottom layer of fabric, and you are done.

Two identical striped matched patterns pieces that with a bit of care can be stitched up so the stripes stay matched.

And of course if you are cutting a piece that  needs to be cut on the fold, just pin your pattern to the single layer, cut it out carefully stopping the cut exactly at the fold line, then flip that piece over, folding it along the fold line. Then, sandwiching the pinned paper pattern between the two layers of fabric, adjust so the stripes all match, and cut it out.

That's how to do it in words, the illustrations are clear here in my mind's eye. If I had an Apple phone I am sure I could press it to my forehead and you could see it too.

I mean no disrespect to the pattern designer here. I do understand that some samples are made under pressure and when you are tired, but really if it is the picture you are using to sell your pattern you really need to just call me and I will come right over and do this part for you.

A good pattern should look like it is.


Angela M. said...

100% agreement. The unevenness is markedly visible on the back view - an entire new black strip is visible at the bottom of the left side (looking at the back view) that isn't visible on the right side. While I understand that getting stripes matched up can be a bit fiddly and needs more attention than a solid colored fabric - I would personally think that is a given requirement when the garment is being photographed to be sold.

All that said - i have been considering getting this pattern. I do not want to tackle a full-blown tailored jacket, since I never wear jackets anyhow. Being in my 50's and living in a hot desert means I live on short-sleeves.... but sometimes a cute jacket would be handy, such as in an overly air-conditioned restaurant. Sometime besides a cardigan would be a welcome option, and this little jacket looks like a good choice.

Karen said...

You're right. I wonder if she noticed it and decided to let it go or if she didn't even think about it.

Vivienne said...

That sort of sloppy workmanship bothers me too and especially when it is such an easy fix. We need to encourage higher standards! And I love reading your Blog! Keep up the good work.

Mrs. Smith said...

I agree! I am the champion of "good enough"...and wouldn't THINK to comment on stripe matching in a garment someone sewed for themselves. But something that is being sold? Yeah, for sure.

I have felt the same about By Hand London's samples. Nary a pressed seam/hem in sight. Drives this newbie bananas.

barbaraq said...

Hey, I just completed this jacket (in a solid ponte knit) and I really like it. I totally agree with you, Barbara, about the stripe matching, however. It's one thing to say "to hell with it" in the privacy of your own sewing space and quite another to put it out there for the world to see when selling a pattern.

Didn't you also notice some unpressed business in a recent Vogue collection? A violet vintage suit comes to mind. ..

Anonymous said...

Welcome home. How is Daisy? Her story makes my day every time I think about it. Be very careful offering to teach one or two classes per term...next thing you know, it'll be right back to full time.Can't wait to hear more sewing/Daisy stuff.Thank you for sharing the Nancy Z story. Hugs.

Donna W said...

The pattern may be very well designed but looking at the unmatched stripes I am reminded of cheap RTW from a well known chain of stores.

Donna W said...

I love to hear the Daisy stories also.

Anne said...

I agree entirely. Three months or so ago a sewing magazine had a free pattern for a wiggle skirt and the cover model was 'wearing' it. The fit was awful (I mean really awful!) and the model had clearly been told to use her hands to try disguise that, unsuccessfully. There was excess fullness, by a few inches, in one area and it was too tight in another. Why oh why use it on the cover? I am a subscriber but am going to stop subscription - and I'm not sure about using the pattern!

SuzieB said...

The unmatched stripes make me suspicious of this pattern. I wonder what other shortcuts Grainline took in its production? Strange marketing concept!

Bunny said...

Those stripes bother me, too. I see a much bigger problem, however. When garments like this or the many many others I have seen from mostly Indies but also big Four, circulate the internet, there is an implicitness to there sloppy construction. It is implied that this sort of work is acceptable and good sewing. Add in that the design has been made by a "designer", real or faux, but having the cache that goes with such a designation and again, it looks passes as the norm/acceptable/the standard to be achieved. It dumbs down sewing for everyone and that really breaks my heart. Come on, pattern makers, you need to do better!

Debbie Cook said...

The stripes bothered me the second I first saw that photo when the pattern was released. I love the overall look with the stripes/solid, but I still can't believe THAT is the product photo.

And to Bunny ... I think it's a case of unfortunately they don't know what they don't know. You can't learn EVERYTHING about sewing/garment making/fitting on the internet. Something gets lost in translation, so to speak. Which becomes the dumbing down.