{Tutorial} Pattern Matching Fabric

When I’m making quilts, sometimes I’m all about the mis-matching of fabrics…..it’s all part of the quilt story!

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

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When it comes to backing quilts, my favourite techniques is piecing a quilt back diagonally. Sometimes though, the quilt is too big for this technique, the fabric doesn’t lend itself as much, or I want to keep the pattern intact.

And that’s what happened when it came to backing the Mindful Quilt: the front is so scrappy and the backing fabric is such a gorgeous delicate print, I felt it would look so much better to be pattern-matched.

What you will need

Deciding Where to Pattern Match

I often find the easiest way to get started is to lay the fabric right side down and fold each of the edges in towards the middle (wrong sides together), so that you are looking at the front edges for both sides.

Step 1: Identify the Pattern Repeat

Have a good look at your fabric and work out where the pattern repeat is: I find the best way to do this is to start at one edge of the fabric and find a distinctive part of the pattern eg. A flower/symbol that is easily recognisable, as close to the selvedge as possible.

For example, with this fabric, the yellow flower stood out to me and was close to both side edges of the fabric. You can see from this picture that it’s a relatively short pattern repeat height wise.

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

Step 2: Decide where to Join

To create a perfect (or as perfect as can be!) pattern-match, you need to decided whereabouts you want to join the pattern.

I find it easiest to pick a part of the pattern which is noticeable enough that I can easily identify it and is part of a natural gap in the pattern.

For example, I wouldn’t pattern match along the centre of the yellow flower as it if very noticeable and any slight mis-alignments would really stand out.

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

After spending some time looking at the fabric, I decided to pattern-match just to the left of the yellow flower right where two leaves touched each other (as indicated by the white arrow). It give an easily recognisable part of the pattern to identify for the next stage and also it appears to be a natural gap in the pattern so I’m not having to match things up along the whole length!

TIP: if you’re not sure where to pattern match, don’t be afraid to fold the fabric along the length in a couple of different areas to see how it might look.

With some fabrics, the pattern repeat which goes width ways may run selvedge-selvedge where as with this one there is a bit of over-run.

Preparing the Fabrics for Pattern Matching

Cut the backing fabric in half length-wise.

Take one of your pieces of fabric, and fold it (Wrong Sides Together) at the point where you have decided to line up your pattern matching. Press in place.

TIP: if there is a definitive pattern-matching marker (eg. The leaf join as shown above), I often press at at these points and then in between to give me a straight, folded line quickly.

Lay the remaining piece of fabric on a flat surface – I often use the kitchen floor! – Right Sides facing up.

Take the piece of fabric with the folded edge and place it Right Sides Together with the other piece of fabric, and line up the pattern on the fold.

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

Once you have pattern matched along the fold – again, I like to concentrate on matching my most distinctive marker – gently open out the fabric and pin in position.

I like to do this in two stages (to make it as accurate as possible and minimise unstitching!!!):

  1. Pin within the crease line: I can then fold back the edge and check that the pattern is still matched and there hasn’t been any shifting.
  2. Pin horizontally: I will then pin horizontally between the other pins. This is so that as the pins get taken out as I’m sewing along the seam, everything is still kept in position.
Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains
Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

TIP: If you struggle with accurate pinning, or have a heavier fabric/long length, it can be helpful to use Double Sided sticky-tape. Place it just to the right of the fold (eg. On the side furtherest away from the selvedge) of either piece of fabric. When you are ready, peel the top layer off and press the fabrics toghether, pattern-matching. It’s easy to re-position if you need to. You may still want to use a couple of pins, but it should stop any significant fabric shifting. Find narrow tape suitable for fabric usage here.

And a little video of my talking you through the process…….

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CPDmWa-nmRk/?utm_medium=copy_link

Joining the Fabrics

If you have one, a walking foot will help to feed the fabric though your sewing machine evenly and again help to minimise any fabric shifting.

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

When you have finished stitching the fabric lengths together, open out and have a look along the seam to check the pattern matching. If there are any significant discrepancies, undo a small section and restitch – often, I find that if this has happened it’s only between one pattern repeat, so isn’t too big a job.

When you are happy with the join, trim any excess fabric from the seam allowance – I like to leave 1/2” for a backing seam.

Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains
Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

Press the seam open and you are ready to start basting your quilt!

Don’t forget to check out my How To Bind A Quilt with Perfect Mitred Corners for some extra hints and tips,

S x

Today’s sky::: very overcast……sun one minute, thunderstorms the next!!!

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Tutorial for Pattern Matching Fabrics for a seamless finish for quilt backings and curtains

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