Posted on

Sewing Stripes – how to match stripes.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. The Barcelona Dress in Blue stripe linen

Stripe matching tips & tricks

How to cut, match and sew stripe fabric.

The Barcelona dress…. all the stripes in all the directions!  Stripes can be tricky little blighters, on the move when you think you’ve got everything straight! It does take a bit of extra work to get matching stripes but good stripe matching starts with accurate cutting out, take your time in the beginning and you’ll be halfway there.

PSA: I would like to point out that I did not get those stripes looking like that first time, I practised on samples and I unpicked. Sometimes do a lot of getting it ‘wrong’ before it goes right. I’m OK with that! Try not to suck the joy out of sewing yourself a dress by setting unrealistic expectations of perfection, it’s overrated. It’s supposed to be fun! If a stripe isn’t perfectly matched does it really matter? (It doesn’t) The other thing to remember is that you are your own worst critic so be kind to yourself! Oh, and by the way, Barcelona is delightful in a plain fabric too!

Do I need extra fabric to match stripes? 

Truthfully, you might! The Barcelona dress has it’s stripe costings based on a 2cm wide stripe with all the pattern pieces cut in one direction (a one way lay / with a nap) but I can’t do a costing to cover every stripe on the planet so you may need to allow more or less depending on your fabric.

Even and uneven stripes image

Even or uneven stripes?

Start by looking at your stripe fabric. Is it EVEN (also called symmetrical or regular) or UNEVEN (also called asymmetrical or irregular)? To check, fold back a corner and if the stripes match across the diagonal fold they are even, if they don’t they are uneven. Why is this important? Because even stripes can be cut in either direction but uneven stripes need to be cut in one direction with all the pattern pieces facing the same way and will most likely (but not always) take more fabric. I actually prefer to cut everything in one direction if possible / just a preference no actual logic.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. which way do your stripes run?

Lengthwise or horizontal?

The next thing to look for with stripes is which way does the stripe run? Is it a LENGTHWISE stripe – does it follow the direction of the selvedge/grainline along the length of the cloth? Or is it a HORIZONTAL stripe that runs ACROSS the fabric? Again these will make a difference in how you lay up your pattern. If you look at The Barcelona pattern you will see both the STRIPE DIRECTION and the GRAINLINE marked for this reason because depending on the stripe direction of your chosen cloth they may or may not be running in the same direction! You can cross reference the 2 lines to make sure your pattern is cut with the stripes running in the right direction and is on grain .Make sure you keep the grainline parallel to the selvedge.


If I am ever unsure about the amount of fabric to buy I’ll lay it all out and measure it. I use washi tape or masking tape and actually mark the width of the fabric on the table or half the width and pretend it’s on the fold. For stripes I also mark the pattern repeat and then lay out the pattern as if I was going to cut it out to give myself an idea of how much fabric I need.

I think my way will be more accurate but it’s not always possible to do a full layup of a pattern when you are in a fabric shop so I’m including a couple of ways I’ve come across on the old internet for general ‘rules’ of guesstimating the extra you may need for stripe matching.

  1. Allow around an extra half a metre for smaller stripes and 1 metre for wider stripes or those with a big repeat.
  2. The other way is to count the main large pattern pieces and multiply that number by the width of the stripe repeat. So 4 main pattern pieces (front bodice, front skirt, back bodice, back skirt) x stripe repeat of 5cm = 20cm of extra fabric.
  3. If in doubt buy a bit extra on top of those!

Make a full pattern

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to cut a full pattern piece 1
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to cut a full pattern piece 2
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to cut a full pattern piece 3
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to cut a full pattern piece 4

I find it easier to lay up stripes using a single layer of fabric. And it’s easier to do this if you have a full pattern. By this, I mean any pattern pieces on the fold should be traced so they can be cut without needing to fold the fabric.

  • Take a piece of paper, larger than your pattern piece.
  • Fold it to make a nice sharp crease. This will be your Centre Front (CF).
  • Place the CF of your original pattern piece right on the fold. Be accurate – if it’s not exactly on the fold you can add or lose millimetres from your garment before you even start!
  • Pin (or use weights) through the layers of paper, keep everything as flat as possible. I always trace around my pattern pieces with a sharp pencil and a ruler, as I feel it’s more accurate than just cutting out.
  • Transfer all the markings. This is where a tracing wheel is very handy. Draw the STRIPE DIRECTION/ grainline all the way across the pattern.
  • Once traced, remove the original pattern. Make sure the lines that are dissecting the CF fold (neck and waist) are doing so at a right angle (90°) or you will get weird pointy shapes at your neck and waist! While its still on the fold, I’ll repin to hold together before cutting out on my pencil line.
  • Once cut, mark in your grainlines/stripe direction and I like to circle my marker dots. Label and date your pattern piece so when you find the cat playing with it on the floor in 2 weeks time you’ll know where it came from.

You can trace all of your pattern pieces, to give you a left and right. You will only need to use a single layer of paper if the pattern piece is not to be cut on the fold. I don’t trace everything but that means when you are cutting in a single layer you have to remember to flip your pattern piece over to make sure you are cutting a pair. For example, when I cut a right back bodice I’ll mark a cross in pencil on the face side of the paper pattern, so I know which side I’ve already cut and then I’ll know to turn the pattern piece over to the other side before cutting the left back bodice.

Stripe Matching: Laying up & Cutting out 

So as we said before the trick to good stripe matching starts with accurate cutting!

So we are going to cut the fabric in a single layer with the Right Side Up (RSU), so we are in control of those stripes. It can be difficult to match them and keep them aligned when the fabric is folded and frankly I get really bored because it just wasted so much time trying to line them up and pin them together! You need a large flat area, it often ends up being the floor, and be sure that if you are using a table that isn’t quite big enough that any overhanging fabric is not dragging your lay off grain and making your stripes go skew-wiff.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 1

When deciding on where to match and place stripes, think about visually what will be noticed first. A wide dominant stripe will draw your eye to that point so consider this when placing your pattern and cutting out your fabric. It’s usual to match the CF, CB and side seams, so stripes run continuously around the body. Shoulder seams may not always match and the dart tucks on The Barcelona will not match because of the angle they are on.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 2

The Barcelona pattern already has the STRIPE DIRECTION marked on each pattern piece. It’s just a case of lining it up with the stripe on the fabric and keeping it consistent for each corresponding pattern piece. The underarm is an easy place to line up for bodices, and the hem is often a good place to start for a skirt or sleeve. If you have a bodice with a side bust dart, so it comes from the side seam, match your stripes below the dart.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 3
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 4

If you need to add a stripe direction line to a pattern piece, draw it all the way across and in whichever direction you choose to have your stripes but MAKE SURE IT’S STRAIGHT!If you haven’t traced the whole pattern, you can chalk around one pattern piece and then flip it over to cut the matching piece. You can also stagger your pattern pieces rather than having them in a row straight across the fabric. Just make sure you are still placing them on the same part of the stripe. In the photo above both armholes are placed at the bottom of a white stripe each time.

Cutting the skirt

 The skirt of The Barcelona is cut on the bias grain to create a chevron at each seam. So the STRIPE DIRECTION LINE is at a 45° angle to the CF and CB seam. The same principle applies to lining up the STRIPE DIRECTION line and consistently placing it on a stripe for all pattern pieces.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 6
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 7
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 8
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 9
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 10
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to lay your pattern to match stripes 11

As the seams are quite long I also made extra checks as I cut to be sure those stripes matched up. First, I cut the right front skirt panel, again placing the STRIPE DIRECTION line to the bottom of the white stripe. Then I flipped over the pattern piece to cut the left front, again aligning the STRIPE DIRECTION line to the bottom of the stripe and I pinned the pattern in place.

Before I cut it out I can double check my stripe matching skills by laying the skirt panel I have already cut ON TOP (fabric with Right Sides Together) of the pattern piece. I can see the stripes actually matched before I chop out the second skirt front. You can repeat this when cutting the back skirt. Before I unpinned the pattern piece from the fabric I copied and drew the placement of the stripes straight onto the pattern piece. I then transferred to the back pattern piece so I knew they’d match. I just placed the side seams of the back and front patterns together and used a tracing wheel and a ruler to mark them straight through.

Remember they need to match at the STITCHLINE!

It’s a useful trick to have handy if you are matching a long length of stripes, because technically the stripes are evenly repeated but actually, it’s a woven fabric and sometimes I’ve had to ‘encourage’ the stripes to do as they’re told! The STRIPE DIRECTION line does meet at the same point along the side seam because I made sure it does during testing, but if you are adapting a pattern this is one of those things you need to double check because if you can’t just randomly draw a line and expect it to match another one! It’s then just a case of cutting out the back skirt and methodically checking the seams will match.

Sewing with stripes


How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 1

 I’ve stitched my seams with my usual machine foot, but if you are having difficulty controlling those stripes, consider using a walking foot. A walking foot will feed both layers of fabric through the machine at the same time, helping to keep the stripes aligned. My new machine doesn’t have one, but my old one did. I will be buying one very soon! Start by marking in the seam allowance, the stripes need to match at the stitchline (I may have mentioned that before).

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 2
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 3

Pin every stripe so they are directly on top of each other. The more pins the less likely the stripes are to move as you stitch. Never knowingly underpinned is my motto! For the chevron, I placed the pins at an angle to follow the stripe direction. Remove them as you sew. Don’t tell anyone but I sewed over them with no ill effects but I’m pretty sure it’s a criminal offence so I’m not recommending it.

Tack or Baste

Machine baste (use the longest machine stitch you have) on the stitchline. If you sew to one side of the stitchline those stripes can still move. When you sew don’t rush and take your time!A machine baste is preferable but if you decide to tack by hand – they need to be small and tight stitches and it can be difficult to pull out randomly coloured tacking thread after stitching on top of it.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 4

Check the stripe matching. If anything has shifted, you could just unpick that section and restitch. Or not, depends how you feel sometimes near enough is the way to go! Machine stitch the seam closed with a 1.5cm SA with your usual stitch length on top of the basting.

How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 5
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 6
How to match stripe. Stripe matching tips & Tricks. How to sew and match stripes 7

You may find that some machine basting stitches have strayed either side of your permanent stitchline. Remove any basting stitches that are not under the permanent stitchline. The ones that have strayed either side of the seam will hinder your seam pressing open neatly. Be careful not to pull out or break the permanent row. I did. I wasn’t careful enough. C’est la vie! Before pressing a seam open, always press seam allowance flat and together. I don’t know the science behind it, but you do get a better finish! Neaten the seam, press open and …stripe matching joy!

Aah…’Tis a stripe matching thing of beauty!

join the gang! NEWSLETTER SIGN UP!
Posted on


Learn how to sew Bias Binding with our bias binding tutorial!

I’m working on producing a library of sewing tutorials for Maven Patterns.

They will all be here in one place, updated to keep relevant with each new pattern release and covering every technique on a pattern by pattern basis.

That way you can look up new stuff if you want to, do your own thing, or do what I do…look it up and then do my own thing anyway, because there is always more than one good way to sew anything 😉

It will also help to keep the Maker Instructions with each pattern concise, clear and relevant. You only need to learn how to do binding once, what you don’t need is a massive pattern file on your computer taking up space!

So in support of my next pattern, here is a lovely big binding tutorial! (If you just want to know How to Sew your binding CLICK  HERE for the condensed tutorial.)

The Big Bias Binding Tutorial

How to cut, make, join & stitch bias binding

Bias binding is a great way to finish the raw edge of a garment. It is hugely versatile and can be used on necklines, armholes, hems, pretty much anywhere really. You can buy ready made binding from your local haberdashery shop or make your own and use up some of those scraps!

There are really two types of binding for our purposes:

DOUBLE BIAS BINDING is on show from the right side of the garment and can be decorative if made in a contrasting fabric.

SINGLE BIAS BINDING: It can be used in lieu of a facing on an armhole or neckline, and apart from a row of topstitching, only be seen on the inside.

Prepare the Binding

If you are using a Maven Pattern, I always include a pattern piece for each bias strip needed so just use that and be sure to follow the grainline as it must be cut on the BIAS GRAIN of your fabric.

How to cut your own bias binding

Your strips need to be cut on the bias grain of your cloth, so they will stretch around curves (armholes, necklines etc) and lay flat once stitched.

(There are times to use binding cut on the straight grain, usually for the edges of quilts, but if in doubt cut on the bias.)

TIP: If my fabric is a little unstable I’ll either tape it to the table to stop it moving, or pin the fabric to paper, at the marking stage before cutting the strips.

First you will need to find the TRUE BIAS (often just referred to as the bias grain) of the fabric. The bias of the fabric runs at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise grain (along the selvedge) and the crosswise grain (the width of the cloth).

MAVEN PATTERNS BINDING TUTORIAL- how to layout fabric ready to cut bias binding

To find the true bias: square off one end of your fabric. Fold the fabric diagonally so the crosswise grain is parallel to the selvedge/lengthwise grain (forming a triangle shape as above). Press the fabric along this fold to mark the bias grain.

MAVEN PATTERNS BINDING TUTORIAL - cut out your binding on the bias grain of the fabric

Open the fabric out and using your pressed line as a guide, mark out your bias strips to your desired width, keeping them parallel to your fold line.

Your strips need to be 4 times your finished width, I usually find cutting 4cm wide for a finished binding of 1cm works well. Cut as many bias strips as you need to complete your project. You can mark with a fabric marker pen, but if you are careful and mark on the reverse of your cloth, I’ve found a pencil or ballpoint pen works well as they give an accurate line and you don’t lose your marks too quickly. But do make sure you do a test first!


To join to ends of binding together (or separate pieces if you need a long continuous strip)

Lay your binding strips on top of each other with Right sides together and at 90 degree angle to each other.

Stitch across the diagonal to join as shown in the picture.

Trim away the excess to leave a 6mm seam allowance and press this seam open.

join and sew a loop of bias binding, Maven Patterns Bias tutorial

To finish the sleeve hem on The French Dart Shift Dress, or to bind an armhole, you will need to make a loop of binding as above.

I like to join first and then press my bias strip into binding. I use a sleeve board at the pressing stage to help so it’s not too fiddly. That is just a preference, you may find it easier to fold press your binding first and if you are using a BIAS TAPE MAKER TOOL you will need to make your binding and then join it.

Alternate joining/ finishing method

This is an easy way to join your bias binding, especially if you are not sure of your finished measurement so can’t pre join together before stitching to your garment….

joining bias binding method BINDING TUTORIAL

Fold back starting edge by 1cm to wrong side of binding and then pin binding into place aligning the raw edges of garment with the raw edge of the binding and with right sides facing together.

joining bias binding together BINDING TUTORIAL

Continue to pin binding along edge of garment, and then at the join lay the binding directly on top of your starting point and trim so that it overlaps by 1cm.

Stitch into place and finish as described in the ” How to sew bias binding instructions below”

how to overlap bias binding, BINDING TUTORIAL

You will create a neat little overlapping finish. It is suitable for many fabrics but you may find this method a little bulky for thicker ones – then it is preferable to use the diagonal stitch method discussed above.

How To Sew Double Bias Binding


Now you’ve cut your binding and if necessary joined your binding, it’s time to press your strips so they look like binding…

press your bias binding in half ,Maven Patterns Bias tutorial

Take your length of binding, fold in half and press. Unfold and refold each outside edge to meet your centre fold and press.

Fold it all back together and press flat firmly but don’t stretch it.

Alternatively use the handy BIAS TAPE MAKER gadget…

bias binding tool maker and iron image

The handy little gadget that is the bias making tool can be incredibly useful, especially if you are making a lot of binding. Just pull your pre-cut binding through the tool and it will fold it ready for you to press into perfect binding. They come in different sizes, so you can just pick the one that will give you the width you want.

If you google how to sew binding you get 833,000 results…this is my way…feel free to tweak and find what works best for you!

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial, attaching the bias tape to your garment

Take your prepared binding and pin RIGHT side of binding to the RIGHT side of garment aligning the raw edges together. Machine stitch along the fold.

TIP: if you are binding a thicker fabric or a few layers of fabric, take a smaller seam allowance so you have extra binding where you need it to help accommodate that extra bulkiness.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial - fold your bias tape to the wrong side

Press binding AWAY from the garment.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial tack or basting your bias in place

Wrap binding over to the raw edge to WRONG side of garment, and position the folded edge of binding so your machine stitching is covered by a few millimetres. Pin to hold. Tack right on the edge of the binding to hold into place – ensure you catch all the binding on the reverse side and just cover the machine stitch while keeping an even distance away from the binding on the front. Take your time to get this right now, the tack line will be a guide to your topstitching!

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial close up of bias binding

Two options to finish


Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial edgestitching bias binding in place
Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial, how bias binding looks on the reverse or wrong side of a garment

Top stitch the binding to finish: with the right side of your garment facing you, edge stitch on the binding and as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking stitch and you know you’ve caught the back of the binding!


If you don’t want your stitching to show on your binding try this method…finish your binding by stitching in the ditch (also known as sink stitch).

‘Stitch in the ditch’ is a really useful technique to know, good for finishing waistbands as well as bindings and also the neckline of The French Dart Shift (coming soon!). When stitched in the same colour as your main fabric the stitch line practically disappears as it settles into the seam.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 11 - stitch in the ditch
Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial a raw edge finished with bias tape

Position your machine needle in line with the groove (the ditch) of the seam, you are going to stitch right in that ditch, NEXT to the binding but not on it. And as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking thread, you know you’ve caught your binding on the back 🙂

Just remove your tacking thread, and you’re done!

And another way to attach binding

an alternative way to finish a raw edge

There is yet another way to attach bias binding to finish a raw edge! This way was shared with me by Shelley, one of my lovely testers of the new Maven1832 patterns. Shelley was making the French dart with the bishop sleeve in a slippery fabric and found this was an easier way to attach the binding at the cuff.

It’s pretty similar to the above methods, except you attach to the wrong side of the fabric and flip binding to the right side of the fabric and stitch. This method only works with visible edgestitching but you might find it less fiddly if you are working with a tricky or slippery fabric.

It’s really a personal preference which way you prefer to sew your binding, but it’s always good to have more than one way to stitch something. Different fabrics do sometimes require a different method!


Place the right side of binding to the wrong side of fabric and stitch in the fold to attach.

Fold binding over to the Right Side so all the raw edges are enclosed and the stitch line is covered. You can trim the seam allowance down a smidge if the biding doesn’t quite cover the stitch line.

And then, with the Right Side Up facing up, edgestitch the binding in place.

How to Sew Single Bias Binding

This isn’t everybody’s method. This is the method I was taught by a sample machinist I worked with about 20 years ago, she called it the Cheat Method.

It’s a really nice way to finish a raw edge on a neckline or armhole without using a facing.


PRESS: Just fold your binding in half and press.

how to attach single bias binding as a facing
stitching bias binding or bias tape into place

ATTACH: Line up the raw edges of your binding with the raw edge of your garment, with right sides together.

Stitch with seam allowance to attach.

press the bias binding flat
baste the bias tape to the garment

Press binding and seam allowances away from garment. Understitch (machine stitch an edge stitch through all the layers on the binding close to the seam.) The understitching is an optional step, there won’t be a disaster without it, but it does make the binding roll to the wrong side better and I think it makes the binding stronger.
Tack along the edge of the binding to hold in place, this will also give you a guide line for your next row of stitching.

MAVEN PATTERNS SINGLE BINDING- stitch the bias tape in place

Flip your garment over and topstitch with the right side up. If you stitch inside your tacking line so you know that you will catch all the binding!

(You can make narrower binding if you prefer…simple bit of maths… finished width of binding + seam allowance, x 2 = cutting width of binding.)

I liked the method because it was quick and that binding NEVER frayed no matter how much I washed those garments (kids clothes), must have been the combination of a folded edge and the extra understitching – great for linen fabrics.  I’ve used this many times over the years instead of a having a flappy facing. The only drawback is some fabrics are just too bulky, but just bind anything too thick with a contrasting fabric and make a feature of the inside!

Posted on

Fabric Shopping in Japan

A stack of Japanese fabrics - fabric shopping in Japan

Japan, Tomato & Textiles

This isn’t so much a guide to fabric shopping in Japan, more of a show and tell. A gentle meander with me, if you will.

Purple Kimono in Tokyo National Museum-fabric shopping in Japan with MAVEN PATTERNS
Purple Kimono In The National Museum, Tokyo

As you can imagine, we saw some beautiful textiles, they kind of just appeared as we were wandering about. I didn’t take photos of everything. It feels a little intrusive in some cases, especially when a person is just going about their daily life. Not everything is to be photographed with a social media strategy in mind (she says as if she has one). Somethings are supposed to just be quietly enjoyed.

But, I did promise to tell you about my visit to Tomato Fabrics, the famous fabric shop in Tokyo. 

Nippori Fabric Town

Nippori Town is the fabric district in Tokyo and home to many fabric, haberdashery and button shops. We walked there from the Tokyo National Museum and it took about half an hour meandering along. If you are going to Japan it’s actually quite easy to find your way around. We decided to hire a WiFi box, which we pre-booked and collected from the airport on arrival. And you just pop it back in the post box as you are leaving. It meant we had WiFi everywhere, even at Mount Fuji. We used google translate & google maps to navigate, it even tells you which underground platform to stand on. Nothing is fool-proof but it was pretty good!

Anyway, back to fabric town …

We got there quite late in the day after a full day of sightseeing. We’d almost skipped it completely. We had only been in Japan 2 days and were still finding our bearings a little bit. And there had been an earthquake on the first night so all in all quite eventful! But we toddled off and found it. I’m so glad we did.

Fabric Stash - a mixture of gren, black and pink floral and denim fabrics stacked on top of each other from NIPPORRI TOWN JAPAN- TOMATO FABRICS

The short version is it lived up to the hype and was hyperventillatingly, gloriously, filled with 5 floors of fabric joy! You pay on each floor, so there is no need to carry the bolts up and down the stairs. I think it’s a ploy to make it easier to buy more fabric! There were actually about 3 or 4 Tomato shops along the street. I unselfishly took one for the sewing team and visited quite a few.

You don’t really need a step by step guide of navigating a fabric shop. We all have experience in that department. I will say, I’m actually very fussy about the fabric I buy. I am very happy to leave empty handed if nothing speaks to me.

It spoke. Well, more shouted.

I came away with 12 metres, which I happily carried around for 2 weeks. So my advice is save room and take a bag with you!

Mokuba Ribbons

While in Tokyo, we also visited the Mokuba showroom. Mokuba are the designers of the most beautiful Japanese ribbons. If you ever wondered where the Couturiers and Designers get those beautiful trims and ribbons from – this is the place. Richard has been obsessed with these ribbons ever since he found them in our Kleins Deadstock Haul


We did happen across a costume museum in Kyoto (not The Costume Institute which would have been a really good one to go to!) when we were actually looking for a castle in completely the opposite direction. The Costume Museum was a series of 1/4 scale accurate dioramas depicting tales from 400 years ago. The level of detail was truly astonishing. There were also some glorious (full sized) Kimonos like this green & orange one. I hadn’t realised there could be so many layers to a Kimono. They had up to 12 layers, with the matching and toning colours visible at the sleeve and neck.

Once you start looking …

We found that textiles just found us as we meandered about. From the rope textile display that drew us into a building. I mean turns out it was actually an office block that we just had a little wander around. Hey-ho!

We came across street art. A gallery with a huge window full with a piece made of used tea bags in Hiroshima. Unfortunately, I don’t have the name of the artist. A Kimono forest. And of course actual beautiful Kimonos.

Orange Embroidered Kimono in Tokyo National Museum-fabric shopping in Japan with MAVEN PATTERNS

There is still so much that we didn’t see. I’d like to see an Indigo Dye Studio or farm and we didn’t even begin to explore Denim in Japan. But it’s nice to think we might get to go back again.

join the gang! NEWSLETTER SIGN UP!
Posted on 4 Comments

How to Print and Assemble a PDF Sewing Pattern

Learn How to print and tile a PDF sewing Pattern at home With this free Printing tutorial

Learn How To Print and Tile a PDF Sewing Pattern at Home.

The joy of PDF sewing patterns is that they are instant. PDF sewing patterns are also known as digital sewing patterns. They are designed to be printed at home on either A4 or US letter sized paper. They are made up of several pages (tiles) that are joined together to make a complete pattern. Once they are downloaded you can print as many patterns as needed. No problems making different sizes, or losing a pattern piece, no more fragile tissue paper! You can just re-print!

Just pick your PDF sewing pattern and download it. Now, you can start to use up that stash of fabric that is slowly threatening to take over the house. Admit it you’ve got one! I’ve got one, we’ve all got one…and if you don’t have a stash of fabric…you want one!

Putting your PDF sewing pattern together is a very simple process. Grab a cup of tea and follow this Printing a PDF pattern tutorial…


  • We now include an A0 file with each PDF pattern. So you can print at a copy shop on a wide format printer.
  • Can you only see 2 pages to print at home? You have probably opened the Copy Shop File by mistake. Open and Print from the file that is included in with the Maker Instructions.
  • All patterns from The Somerset (pattern 08) onwards, the pattern and the instruction files are separate.
  • Save ink and paper. You will find a list of page numbers in the instructions so you can just print the pages you choose.


  • A printer
  • A4/US letter paper
  • Paper Scissors
  • Tape (transparent magic tape is the best – doesn’t yellow with age, it’s invisible, you can get pins through it)

How to Print Your PDF pattern


Download your pattern and save it to your computer.

Maven Patterns are also available through Etsy, and Etsy have kindly posted a guide to help with downloading digital items.

To open your digital file you need an Adobe Reader, which you can download for free.

Please note: You can set your default PDF reader to one of your choosing on your computer. Apple computers often default to opening PDFs with ‘Preview’. Your pattern needs to be printed from Adobe Reader to make sure it prints at the correct scale.

Open your document and read it first!

You will find a set of instructions which include a cutting guide, fabric requirements, illustrated Maker Instructions and a glossary of terms as well as your pattern. It is not necessary to print everything. Save ink and paper by just printing the pattern and viewing your instructions on screen. You will find a list of page numbers on the CONTENTS page.

How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern, printer settings image

Make a note of the page number for THE PRINT TEST SQUARE, this is ALWAYS the first page to print. 

A PRINT TEST SQUARE is included on all digital sewing patterns. It is important so you can check that your printer is printing your pattern accurately. My patterns have a square 10cm x 10cm / 2″x2″ square. Check the size for different pattern designers – it will be clearly marked.


How to print and tile a pattern: Adobe Acrobat screen shot to show printer settings

IMPORTANT: Ensure your print settings are correct, the pattern must print at actual size or it won’t fit you! These print settings all vary a little , on my computer (a PC) I use these options, yours may be different:

  • Select your printer in the top left corner.
  • PAGES TO PRINT: PAGES and tap in the page number of the print test square (19 in this case),
  • ORIENTATION: AUTO/PORTRAIT LANDSCAPE to keep your pattern tile centralized.


Print the TEST SQUARE page.

How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern, a print test square image

Check the square measures 10cm x 10cm, if it does great – you’ll print an accurate pattern. If it doesn’t go back and fiddle with the print settings again.


  • Check you are opening with the latest version of Adobe Reader.
  • If you’re using a Mac and your pattern is opening in ‘Preview’, the default reader. Reopen in the latest version of Adobe Reader. FREE FROM HERE.
  • Give your pattern time to download completely. Save it somewhere safe that you can find on your computer.
  • Be sure to print from the SAVED version.
  • Printing a pattern that is open from your internet browser will cause the pattern to not print out correctly.

Check the printer settings

  • ‘Actual Size/Scale 100% should be TICKED
  • Make sure:  ‘Choose paper source by PDF page size’ is UN-TICKED.
  • Still not printing OK? Click ‘ADVANCED PRINTER SETTINGS’ then click “PRINT AS IMAGE”
  • It is important to use the latest version of Adobe Reader.
  • Make sure your printer is set to print on Auto portrait/landscape.
  • If you are using Apple mobiles that might be the problem. They won’t download and open a pdf file without a pdf app installed.
  • If you still have a printing issue; it’s time to check your printer drivers are up to date

Tiling Your Pattern


Once you are happy with your test square, you can print your pattern. Refer back to the contents page so you print the right pages. Soon you will have a stack of pattern tiles in front of you.

How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern. how to trim the tile page of a PDF sewing pattern

The grey square is the outside edge of your pattern tile. Trim away the excess overlap on two sides. For absolute accuracy cut on the outside of the grey line, so you can still see it. Carry on until all the tiles are trimmed.


How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern. A tile layout diagram

Each tile has a large grey number in the centre. These run from left to right so you can put your tiles in order. A TILE LAYOUT DIAGRAM is included in the instructions as each pattern will vary a little.


How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern. taping a PDF pattern together

Tape or stick tile 1 to tile 2. Line up the triangles and the pattern as you go. DON’T OVERLAP THEM just butt the grey frame edges next to each other. I always use transparent magic tape for patterns. Sadly, it’s a little TOO transparent to show up in a photo…hence the lovely washi tape! Some people prefer a glue stick. There is no right or wrong, it’s just a preference. Keep working your way across row 1, and then do the same for row 2.


How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern. joining a pdf print sat home pattern together

Join rows 1 and 2 together. Continue until your  pattern is taped together, using the tile layout diagram as a guide.


How to print and tile a PDF sewing pattern. cutting out a pattern

A whole tiled pattern can get a little unmanageable in one piece. Roughly cut out completed sections of the pattern as you go. Once you decide on your size, carefully cut out each pattern piece ready to make your garment.

And that, my sewing friend, is it!

Soon, you’ll be printing your PDF sewing pattern with confidence and tiling your sewing pattern together like a professional!

Happy sewing! Mrs M x

join the gang! NEWSLETTER SIGN UP!