Those two words can send a twitch to anyone's eye. There's something so satisfying when all the lines perfectly collide into each other, making a seamless transition from front to back. And it's true, maybe as someone who sews we notice these things a lot more. Some tidbits of stripe matching:
Be ready to spare some fabric.
You are going to want to do some planning when you get your stripes. When you're stripe matching there will be times that you feel like you 'waste' fabric. But sometimes to get those perfect lineups, a little fabric is going to have to be sacrificed.
I like to start with the most "important" piece. If your pattern is just stripes, this isn't as important, but if you have a stripe with say a floral tossed in, I will want to lay that floral a specific way so it falls on my body just the right way. So in those times, I'll take some time to lay that first pattern piece just right. Most likely that will be the front piece. I normally will fight hard to save as much fabric as I can when cutting out my pattern pieces, but we bend the rules for stripe matching. Once I've cut that, it will now be my primary 'stripe guide'.
Once I've got my front piece, I will cut out my back bodice. I start by taking my front bodice pattern piece, still laying on top of my cut out bodice pice, and I'll take a pencil marking the stripes on it. No need to go all the way across or mark every single line, I like to do just a few going down starting at the armpit, and a couple near the hem. *Don't forget to color code your stripes when marking them on your pattern piece. I did this once and couldn't figure out which stripes I was trying to line up.
Now that I have that, I line up my back bodice to match up with the front bodice stripes. I will line up the armpits (NOT the shoulders) and make my stripes mirror each other. Cut that out! Now you should have some fantastic mirrored stripes.
Maybe you're cutting out a pocket and you want that seamlessly blend in with all your stripes. No fear, take a deep breath, I've got you. The first thing I do, grab your pattern piece that has the pocket placement on it (most of the time, this is the front, but could be the back pockets as well). At this point I take the actual pocket pattern piece and lay it nicely over the pocket placement. Yes, two pattern pieces laying on top of each other. I will take my trick from before and mark on my pocket pattern piece where my stripes line up. Now I can take that pocket pattern and cute out a pocket that should have lines that match up perfectly.
We're going to talk about the saving grace of stripe matching, and frankly pocket placing in general, Wonder Tape. What did I do in my life before wonder tape? Oh yeah, I had terrible pockets. Take a strip of wonder tape and stick it on the back of all 3 sides of your pockets, turning them in. This eliminates ironing them down. *Now, you can totally skip putting wonder tape on at this point and just iron them down, it's your pocket, do what you like!* Once I've folded down all 3 sides, I will again put wonder tape down on the 3 sides. Now I can place my pocket down and it's not moving all over the place when I sew it. And because I'm very concerned about my pockets migrating, I pin them as well.
Feeling good? Take some breaths, look how far you've already come in your stripe matching journey. Let's move onto Raglan sleeves and stripe matching. I get so much satisfaction looking at the front of my raglan sleeves and seeing that most perfect crossroads where the lines meet up. But it's also caused me some cursing sessions. So just like before, start out by cutting your front bodice piece, lining up those stripes as you fold your fabric. Once you have your front bodice cut out, grab your raglan sleeve. Taking the arm cycle of your front bodice piece that you cut out, lay it out on top of your front armcycle of your sleeve piece. See where your stripes lay, if they aren't laying right, move them up or down to get those stripes laying beautifully. *As a side note, I have realized that I tend to use more fabric when matching wider stripes since there is farther to move up or down to match them up again* Once you've got them matching up nicely, cut those bad boys out!
Feeling confident now to try those stripes? Jump out of your comfort zone and dive right in with these tips on how to get some epic stripe matching skills.