Perfecting Your Plaid Cutting and Matching

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, and you know how I love plaid! See here, here, here, oh and also here if you’re curious. I posted a couple of weeks ago about my first plaid article that was out with Sew News magazine, and now the second half of that article has been released! It’s been out for a while now, but it should still be out on newsstands.



It was so satisfying to match the plaids on this dress while sewing it up.

What does this half of the article cover? Everything that you would need to know about selecting plaid for a garment and buying yardage, to deciding on your layout and cutting the fabric so that your plaid lines match up perfectly.


If you would like the information from both of the articles, it is also available for free online! When I filmed Sew It All, I created a handout for the show. By the way, how weird is it to watch yourself on tv? The answer is VERY.


I went my episode page on the Sew It All site, and I found links to both of my articles, along with the plaid handout I referenced to on the show. I think you’ll find this all to be really useful if you’re working on a plaid garment. If you haven’t worked with plaid before, don’t be scared! I promise it’s not as hard as it looks if you know how to lay out your pattern pieces so that the plaid lines match right up while you’re sewing. I’ve got all kinds of tricks for you!

To download the plaid articles and the handouts, click here.

The first article can be found here: Methods to Master: Sewing with Plaid Part One

The second article can be found here: Methods to Master: Sewing with Plaid Part Two

I am partial to the plaid layouts I created for the show. They’re so helpful when you’re trying to figure out exactly how to lay out your pattern pieces for each type of plaid. You can download them online on the Sew It All episode guide, or get them right here by clicking on the images to enlarge the information.

Plaid-Layout-Handout-2-UPDATED Plaid-Layout-Handout-UPDATED

I am working on a plaid project of my own right now. I found this absolutely amazing double gauze plaid at my one of my favorite Portland fabric stores, Mill End, last year. I didn’t buy any yardage then, and I always regretted letting it go. I was checking out the flannel section about a week ago, and lo and behold, there was the fabric! I put it right in my cart and brought home about 3 yards. I am using it to participate in Archer Appreciation Month!


The fabric is a dream to work with. I’m hoping to finish it in time to take on a camping trip this weekend. No, that’s not a typo, we’re really going camping. In December. Lots of Oregon state parks have teeny tiny cabins you can rent that are heated, so we’re heading to Silver Falls with friends for a few days of warm cider around a blazing campfire. Hopefully I’ll have photos of my Archer in the wild to share when I get back!


  • These are SO helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re very welcome, dear! I’m happy to help. 🙂

  • ozzyblackbeard

    This is perfect timing! I’ve just finished the toile for a dress I’m making in tartan fabric. I shall be devouring all this information before I put scissors to cloth. Thank you! 🙂 Lynne

    • Happy to help! If you a plaid identification or layout issue, let me know!

      • ozzyblackbeard

        I just wanted to tell you that my dress is finished and is lovely (even if I say so myself!). My tartan print and seams all match beautifully thanks to all the great advice in this post. I dread to think how it would have turned out if I hadn’t read this! If you want to have a nosey, it’s on my blog here – Thanks again for posting this tutorial. Merry Christmas, Lynne. 🙂

        • Hello, Lynne! That is so wonderful! I’m so happy that all of this information helped you to make a beautifully matched dress. I’m going to head right over and take a peek- thanks for the link! 🙂 I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

  • Jen

    Whoo hoo baby! This is super awesome and perfectly timed for me to link to you, haha! Congrats on the article etc. Have a great time camping, I’m SO jealous! I’m hoping to do a little day trip out of the city this weekend. It’s amazing how refreshed you can be after a little time away!

    • It was perfect timing, and thanks for the link-up!

      I tell you what- if you come out to Portland, I will absolutely take you camping, or least take you for an all-day hiking trip on Mount Hood. We’ll even go visit and alpaca farm out there so you can buy some wool direct from the source, and hit the fruit loop to buy some apples and make pie. 🙂

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  • melani

    This is great!!! I’m a beginner at matching plaids (or stripes or matching anything really) but I really want to make a plaid archer …
    I’ve read your other tutorial about matching plaids but I’m still a bit nervous cutting into my fabrics …
    I’m going to print and read all of these and hopefully my archer will turn out okay …

    Love your blog btw …

    • Good! I’m glad you like it.
      Be sure to carefully identify your plaid pattern first, and then you’ll do just fine with cutting. If you’re nervous about cutting, trace the outlines of your pieces before you actually cut. That way if you see anything that needs to be moved, it won’t be too late to change it. Plaids get easier the more you work with them. Sew up one or two plaids and you’ll feel like a pro. 😉

      • Melani

        Thanks Amy …

  • jess

    Hi Amy,

    may I ask about cutting the collar pieces (for button down shirt) do we have to match it to the centre of the back?
    And how do we go about cutting it so that it matches?

    And is this correct? For button down shirt, we want to match the left and right front pieces, and the sleeves, and the back piece …
    And then the collar at the centre back to the centre back …

    the yoke and button band and cuffs are all on the bias, as well as pockets (optional) …

    Sorry for the many questions, I’ve read almost all the plaid matching tutorial I could find on google but still confused lol …
    Thanks so much!!!!

    • Hi, Jess!
      Yes, it is best to match the center back of the collar pieces to the center back line on the bottom half of the shirt. Since your center back line on the bodice should fall down the middle of a dominant line, your collar center back should as well. Does that make sense? I don’t recommend trying to put a collar on the bias to avoid matching. It can cause it to lay incorrectly.

      And yes, for a button-down shirt, the front bodice pieces should match, meaning that the horizontal lines should fall along the same line, and the vertical lines should continue unbroken across the garment once the shirt is buttoned and closed. To make sure this happens, cut out one side of the bodice at a time, and put the center front line down the middle of a dominant line. Once you have one side cut out, you can flip it over so it is right-side-together with the fabric, and trace out the other bodice half.

      Once you have your fronts cut out, then you can cut out your back pieces. You will want to make sure that your fronts and backs will match along the side seam horizontally. They may not match vertically once the bodice center back is along a dominant line, but that’s okay.

      And yes, as you said, the collar and collar stand should be cut out with the center back along the middle of a dominant line of plaid, but the yoke, button band, cuffs and pockets can all be on the bias. I don’t always put all of these pieces on the bias though. It can start to look a little crazy that way, and putting pieces on the bias uses up a lot of fabric. Try cutting out one pocket on the bias, so that you can really think about where you want to use bias before you commit.

      • Jess

        Thank you amy!!!!

  • Whoa! Camping in December? You brave girl! Congrats on the feature – you make plaids sound like a breeze to work with.

    • Yes, camping. It wasn’t too cold (with my thermals and snow pants on the entire time while in a kind-of heated cabin), but I can’t say I’m jumping at the chance to do that again.

      Plaids are a breeze, if you know what kind you have and how to lay it out. I promise they aren’t as intimidating as everyone thinks! 🙂

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