Tartan Trousers: Matching plaid lines
When I did my my tartan trousers, it was the first time I had to worry about matching plaid lines which obviously required a bit of extra work at the onset of the project. Folding the fabric in half rarely works because the plaids rarely match. I couldn’t find any useful instructions to help but luckily for me, my good friend Rita was able to offer me some guidance. Her advice was spot on and I have documented this method in a few step-by-step easy to follow instructions.
Fold your fabric right sides together with selvedge lines meeting. You will quickly realise that it may match at first glance horizontally but the plaid intersections are off vertically.
To match the fabric vertically, you will need to pin every single square of the fabric making sure that all lines underneath and behind the fabric match perfectly. Be warned, this is a time-consuming task ahead! And do work from the fold down to the selvedge lines otherwise you won’t be able to do it properly (I had to restart pinning after a while as I couldn’t see what I was doing). What I did was pinning through the 1st layer, where the lines of each yellow square meet, and then pin through that same square on the 2nd layer, regularly checking this is all matching.
Once Step 2 is done, take the front and back pattern of your trousers (in my case, this was an old pair of jeans as opposed to a commercial pattern) and mark with a piece of chalk your waist, hips and knee lines on both the back and the front of the pattern. You only need to do this where the side seams meet as this is the most obvious area where the plaids must match. You can also add some extra chalk marks if you wish.
In the above picture, you can see where the chalk lines for the front and the back pieces of the pattern match the same lines on the fabric. It is only partially shown on the first picture, but you also need to make sure that the “crotch section” for the front and the back of your pattern also match at same level on the fabric. I actually had to ignore the grainline for one of these pieces otherwise I would have been unable to completely match at seamline. That could possibly have been avoided if I had bought an extra metre of fabric but I am not entirely sure that would have anyway. I must say that was not an issue for these trousers and I was even able to match the lines for the inside of the legs. The most important thing is that as long as you’ve matched the outside lines on the right and left side of the legs, you know you’ve done the job properly.
Now you’ve done the most difficult task, you can start sewing the front and back together. A word of caution though! Pinning the sides perfectly may not be enough to ensure perfect matching of the plaid lines because of the movement of the needle possibly resulting in a slight misalignment of your 2 layers of fabric. A tip I was given was to have the top layer slightly more inwards so you can see both layers when sewing. This way, while going slowly and not pulling the 2 layers, will guarantee a perfect result.
Et voilà! The final result is right here! I also had to match the lines of the plaids when cutting the front pockets but this aside, you can carry on with the rest of your trousers as normal.