Tips for pattern matching your fabric

Do you struggle matching up the pattern in your fabric when you cut out your sewing projects?

The first thing to think about when matching pattern is whether or not the pattern runs in one direction, if you’re not sure, always follow the pattern cutting layout for “With nap” this will ensure that the pattern runs from the top of each pattern piece towards the hemline.


The next thing to thing about is whether or not the fabric’s pattern has a very bold motif like a flower that runs in one direction from selvedge to selvedge, in this case you need to cut each piece out separately on a single layer of fabric, flipping the pattern over to “mirror” the shape of either side. For most busy patterned dressmaking fabric, it’s usually possible to cut the fabric as a double layer.


Unless you’re making clothes or projects with only straight seamlines, it’s impossible to pattern match fully along the length of any curved seams.


For example a pencil skirt is very curved between the waist and the hipline, so you won’t be able to pattern match that area other than on the horizontal plane.

Pattern matching fabric across curved seams

For skirts, I always make sure the horizontal plane is matched from below the hipline across the side seam and centre back seam. The notch at the side seam is a good guideline for where to think about pattern matching the vertical as well as the horizontal.Ideally I’d like the seam to almost disappear, with the pattern being perfectly aligned either side. Place the notches in a prominent section of the pattern motif to match this on either side of the seam. See close up detail below

Pattern matching the vertical and horizontal planes in fabric
close up detail of pattern motif matched across vertical plane of fabric

For sleeveless tops and dresses I ensure the pattern matches horizontally from below the bust dart ( there’s usually a notch here which will help you match up).

Another important consideration with patterned fabric, is the placement of the motifs within the fabric’s pattern. For example you may want to avoid having a large flower sitting on the centre of either bust!

I always try and centre a vertical pattern down the middle or centre front of my garments, as visually it looks “off” if you position it one side of the middle of the garment

pattern placement on dresses and tops

Ultimately though, pattern matching is down to personal taste. If you don’t care, then you really don’t have to do any matching at all, and that’s totally OK!

Happy Stitching CL:)


  • Sarah

    16.11.2016 at 03:20

    Hi there,
    if you can only pattern match at the side seams or the back seam – which is the better option? I’m making a shift dress and can afford one or the other.
    Your thoughts?

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      18.11.2016 at 23:13


      I would say that I’d try and pattern match the side seams as you will be aware of them when you wear your shift dress, but not quite so aware of the centre back of your dress. That’s just my personal preference anyway! Only time i would suggest the back being more important would be on a dress like a wedding gown where the back of the dress will be seen as much as the front

      Happy stitching:)

  • Jacq B

    22.02.2016 at 16:14

    This is helpful thanks! I have always had a hard time matching my patterns.

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      28.03.2016 at 20:04


      glad you found the post useful:)

  • Clare Dennis

    17.02.2016 at 13:54

    Thank you for explaining the best way to pattern match. Pattern matching is one of my worse phobias when it comes to sewing, I always struggle with pattern matching and it can make the difference to a garment looking professional or homemade. I will try your technique on some pattern fabric I have but too scare to cut. Wish me luck :)

    • The Thrifty Stitcher

      28.03.2016 at 20:05

      Hi Clare,

      glad you found the post useful

      good luck with your next project

      Best wishes:)