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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tips and Tricks: Lining Up Stripes

Today we're talking about stripes! I love stripes!  I know that horizontal stripes are supposed to be horrible for us to wear. But I love them and I deny that rule of thumb! Sure, our eyes may be trained to perceive things as wider when they have stripes going across them. But what's wrong with appearing wider if we look FABULOUS while we're at it? I say wear the stripes!  But even if you disagree with me, I think we can all agree that kids can wear stripes any way they want -- as long as the stripes are straight!

And straight is what we're talking about today. I'm going to give some tips on how to make our stripes line up. It's really not too complicated. The important thing is that we pay attention to the stripes on every single step, from cutting to pinning to sewing. If we fail to do this, our stripes aren't going to line up simply by magic!  We need to cut our pattern pieces so that the bottoms all line up at the same place on the lines. That's what I did to make the stripes line up in the picture above. (With a sleeve that curves under like that, the sleeve stripes will get "off" of the bodice stripes once it is under the curve - but the two sides do match each other and the top half is all lined up neat and tidy.) Lining up stripes is especially easy to do with CKC peasant tops because the sleeves and bodice all start out as rectangles - straight lines! 

The only thing I love more than stripes are polka dots! And it just so happens that we can treat them exactly like stripes most of the time. Look how they go across the black belt - lined up perfectly. And chevron is very similar too!  These patterns can't always line up at every seam because they have spacing, but we can make sure they are even on both sleeves and line up as much as possible. Just remember that none of it happens by magic. We must pay attention.  Here are some helpful pictures for the different types of lining up we might need to do: 

This is a sleeve to Trista's and I want my stripes to line up. First I made sure my pattern piece was straight on a line when I cut the pieces. Now I'm making sure the lines match up as I put them right sides together. At this point we could just sew it up real quick and hope that the magic kicks in.

But my vote is that we pin it for perfection!  I pinned on every single red stripe, just because that's how I am. You could probably get away with every second or third stripe.  Then we're ready to sew, nice and carefully. They should come out perfectly.

Now let's talk about sleeves that are curved at the top. Sometimes we cannot make stripes line up if their curves are different between the pieces. But what we can always do is make sure that the two sleeves match and that they start out evenly.  Notice how the top of the stripey sleeve is pinned nicely across the top of the armhole curve. Then if I pin evenly down both curves, they should end up equal. The two sleeves may seem far apart on the shirt but they're pretty noticeable when worn!  

Now let's look at the bottom of the sleeves. It's kind of hard to tell on the lettuce edge, but when I finish the edges I make sure to follow the line of the stripes.  I am in the habit of using the guide on my sewing machine to do a 3/8" seam.  That's good and we should still do as the pattern says.  But I also pay close attention to where I am on the stripes and follow it exactly. (When my daughter is wearing her shirt at school, her friends aren't going to measure her seams to see if they match -- but they may notice if her sleeve stripes look all wonky because I cared more about the line on my machine.) Watch the stripes! 

On a later step of Trista's, this picture above shows where the two edges of the hood trim meet together. I think this area under their face is especially important to get right!  Where the pins are, notice that each edge is perfectly cut along the red line, and then carefully pinned along the neck edge. The bottom red lines are matched up exactly next to each other.  Now when I sew the seam, remember that I pay close attention to following the stripes and not just the machine guide. Do you think it came out evenly? 

Of course it did!  We have even white and red stripes all the way up.  Who needs magic anyway? 
But the true test of whether or not we did a good job - does the child approve? 

Yes! She does! Success! 

I hope these tips and tricks have been helpful to you. They can be used on a wide variety of sewing projects. You'll be a stripe-sewing, chevron-loving, polka-dot wearing pro in no time. 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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