Stripes or plaids not lining up? A little prep goes a long way…

- - Sewing

If you are like us, the image of the dress below evokes the same uneasy feeling most designers, pattern cutters and sewers have experienced at least once in their careers.

You’ve picked out and purchased the perfect fabric. You’ve painstakingly laid out your patterns and cut your fabric. You’ve closely pinned your pattern pieces and labored over the sewing machine for hours. You pull your garment from the machine turn it inside out and – insert expletive here – your plaid, stripes or patterns do not match at the seams. But where did you go wrong? As a beginning designer, the excitement of executing your final vision may trump your attention to detail as you prepare to cut your fabric. And although you may find yourself getting to the end product quicker, the quality of your work will likely be sacrificed if you don’t take the necessary steps to prepare your patterns, fabric and layout of your patterns prior to jumping on the sewing machine.

Contrast the above dress to the flawless look of the expertly matched stripes to the right. When careful attention is paid to notch placement and pattern layout, the visual impact can be powerful. One thing to remember if you are one of those designers who may occasionally skip a step or two when it comes to preparation: Considering the time it will take to correct your mistakes later may be good motivation to watch the following videos and take the time necessary to prepare your work for the best end results. You may also consider having to buy another round of your expensive final fabric. This week we offer a series of videos which will teach you how to lay out your patterns on various patterned fabric. Once you have learned these various techniques and begin to employ these techniques, the quality of your garments will improve. Keep in mind that we adhere to “you must learn the rules in order to break them.” In other words, our newest videos will teach you the proper way to lay out pattern pieces for clean, professional quality garments. However, take the time to research designers that work with patterns in a more avant garde way such as Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo. Take a look at the two Westwood garments below, notice the pattern cutting command resulting in a flawlessly executed plaid jacket and then how the rules have been broken for an equally striking garment in the second.

Watch the series below. If lining up your stripes has been a challenge for you in the past, send us a before and after snapshot – we would love to see your progress. Visit our website for additional videos on pattern layout including working with Engineered Print Fabrics, Napped Fabrics, One-way Print Fabrics, and All Over Print Fabrics.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.