Plaid-1title-01/>|by Sunni Standing|

Plaids have the misfortune of being seen as hard to deal with – a naughty step-child of the fabric world. I would definitely say that a lot of the rumors are true. Plaid fabrics are not the easiest to work around. They require some special handling, planning and forethought – and even then there are some unexpected things that come up. But all of this doesn’t mean that we can’t take a second look at plaids and think of them as serving different purposes in our apparel. In this post I wanted to take a moment, stop down, and illustrate some clever ways that we can use plaids while not having to think too much about matching them.

To help illustrate all my points, I thought I would go in depth behind a pullover shirt I designed and made especially for this purpose – how to not match plaids. This shirt is something that could easily be adapted from any button-up shirt pattern. It has all of those elements like a collar stand, collar, yoke, cuff and sleeve placket, whilst also creating the perfect blank slate for a splash of plaid. I had the pleasure of working with some lovely Robert Kaufman fabrics for this project. Those Mammoth Flannel plaids are simply luscious to touch, and the extensive line of chambrays are well worth the money and effort to find them. You can view the plaid I used here and the chambray here. Now for some non-matching tips!

Pair the plaid with a solid, lace or another print

How to NOT Match Plaid

plaid and lace shirt
plaid shirt and floral jeans

Think of the plaid as being a focal point or a clever way to add color, texture and dimension to an otherwise boring, solid and plain looking garment. This is a pretty easy trick, but one that I think can’t be emphasized enough. This makes a win for both fabrics to be honest. Plaids can tend to be overwhelming to look at and breaking up a plaid with a nice solid, some funky lace or even another print – like a small scale floral print – can give just the right pop and pow.

There are a few things you can consider when doing this:

Mix the two fabrics evenly

To go with the idea above, mix and match the pattern pieces evenly. On my shirt, you can see that whatever piece is directly connected/sewn to the plaid bodice front is in that lovely chambray. That’s key and helps with the no-matching mentality.

How to NOT Match PlaidHow to NOT Match Plaid

Use the plaid in one main pattern piece only

My shirt was completely designed around this concept. That front panel was only ever going to be plaid and I wanted the solid chambray to give the illusion that I had slaved long and hard on working with a plaid. But then I livened things up a just a bit by putting some of the other, more inconsequential pieces in plaid. Like the inside of the cuff, the sleeve placket and the inside of the collar band. All of those pieces didn’t require any matching at all. Neither did that front panel. The planning here was only in the fact that I had decided to use the plaid as the front panel.

How to NOT Match PlaidHow to NOT Match Plaid

Whenever possible, make use of the bias

This technique is so very helpful. When you put a plaid on its 45 degree angle, those up and down and all around lines become tilted at an angle and it puts less strain on the eye. Becomes more of a fun tease than a “Wow, that sure is a plaid shirt!” I made use of this idea in the sleeve placket only, but this is something that I could have done for the front plaid panel too.

Take it to the next level

So, this coming Fall, we’ve got some great inspiration for taking this non-matching plaid idea to the next level. Behold, McCall’s 7187.

How to NOT Match Plaid
I nearly fell off my chair when I saw this dress. They’ve taken some of the same ideas as above and instead of using a solid, mixed the bias pieces in instead. Brilliant.

I think the biggest idea to remember here is just because it’s plaid, doesn’t mean it has to be matched to anything. In fact, quite the opposite here! I think a garment can almost be more interesting and exciting when you try not to matchy-match your plaids. All my best on your next plaid adventure!

Disclosure: Robert Kaufman provided the fabrics for this post.


SUNNI STANDING A Fashionable Stitch
Sunni Standing is proprietress of all things A Fashionable Stitch, where she blogs about her love for apparel sewing. Sunni has been a sewing blogger since 2007, when after graduating from college she reclaimed an old passion for sewing her own clothes. A Fashionable Stitch documents her battles with getting a great fit, sewing tutorials, in addition to her more recent escapades in the world of small business ownership. These days Sunni can be found sewing, blogging about sewing and working a full-time gig for the man and on some rare days she’ll spend hours pawing through and contemplating future creations from her giant fabric stash.
Sewing machine: PFAFF® performance™ 5.0

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2 Comments on “”

  1. Debera Massahos

    I like the idea of not overwhelming my rather small frame with too much plaid, while still enjoying a pop of it. And not having to match means not having to guess about how much fabric it might take to accomplish that, although I admit to enjoying the plaid matching process. Have you thought about publishing a pattern for this? It’s exactly the kind of shirt I’d live in! And it’s a wonderful stashbuster, to boot.

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