How to Join Patterned Fabric Panels
Mini Tutorials
  VIDEO INSTRUCTOR

  Cindy Taylor


Cindy is the owner of Dolman & Taylor specialist curtain and blind makers. She has over 15 years of experience, curtain making, blind making, working with fabrics and making soft furnishings. In the videos she clearly explains and demonstrates the methods and techniques used in her workroom .
Joining a patterned fabric

This tutorial is based on a normal pattern repeat fabric, if your fabric has a half drop pattern repeat please read HERE and adjust the instructions accordingly.

CUT THE DROPS

  • You should have included one extra pattern repeat in your calculations to be able to place the pattern in your desired position on the blind or curtain you are making.

    (With a curtain decide where you want the pattern to be at the bottom of the curtain. With a blind decide where you want the pattern to be at the top of the blind. )

  • Find the point in the first pattern repeat on the fabric roll where the top of your first FABRIC CUT DROP will be.
  • From that point measure down your FABRIC CUT DROP.
  • Cut the fabric there.
  • Measure down again the ADJUSTED CUT DROP *(a number of pattern repeats) and cut again.
  • Repeat until you have all the drops of fabric required.
  • The length of the first cut drop will probably be slightly different to the other cut drops, as this first section of fabric included an extra pattern repeat to postion the cut in the correct place and you measured down the FABRIC CUT DROP not the ADJUSTED CUT DROP.
* Note: The adjusted cut drop is a multiple of pattern repeats, so each cut should be at the same position on the fabric's pattern. If there is a slight discrepency measure down in pattern repeats

JOIN WIDTHS

  • Lay fabric panels right side together, selvedges together (make sure both panels are the same way up), align bottoms and edges.
  • Always join on the selvedge.
  • At the joining edge lift back the top layer of fabric until you get a symmetrical pattern, then pin, finger press a fold line where the fabric will be sewn (joined).
  • Work down aligning the pattern, pinning and finger pressing the fold line.
  • To stop the fabric shifting when you sew it, cross pin approx every 10cm at points in the pattern that are tightly matched.
  • Sew along the pressed line.
  • Press the seams open (No Steam)
  • Check the bottom of the panels are straight, if not trim.

Joining a pattern

MATCHING AND JOINING A PATTERN ALONG A SEAM

Lay your fabric panel on the work surface right side up. Then lay your second panel wrong side up.

As you have cut all your panels at the same point in the pattern repeat, the bottoms should line up nicely.

Level up your selvedges and bottom of the panel.

Now, working along the side of the curtain, down the selvedge edge, fold back the top fabric layer until you have a pattern match.

Continue to do this all along the selvedge edge finger pressing the fabric back as you go. Once you are happy with the match it is time to pin the fabric together.

I tend to start in the middle and work outwards.

Where you have a definite pattern match such as in the photo above where the red lines (antennae and wing of the butterfly) join together – these are the important places to get an exact match. So lift the top fabric up at right angle to the bottom fabric – you may have to slide it back a mm to get the exact match.

Once you are happy, fold the fabric forward so the selvedge edges are together again being really careful not to move the perfect match that you have made. Stick a pin horizontally through the part of the pattern that needs to match up i.e the red line. Continue to do this all down the side using as many pins as necessary.

Use plenty of pins not just at the important pattern points but set further back from the crease line as well.

You are almost ready to sew the fabric together along the crease line, but just to help you along, use your vanishing marker to draw a dashed line along the crease, particularly where the pins are as the crease line can get a bit flattened once you put the pins in.

Now, machine stitch along the dashed line.

Take your pins out and have a look at the face fabric to check your pattern match. Do not worry if there are a couple of places that are not quite right – you can always unpick that area and resew,

Now you have successfully joined your patterned fabric panels.

Questions & Comments

Fiona

It looks like I need to fold the top piece of fabric back in half to get the pattern to match! Help!

SewHelpful:  

Have you cut adjusted cut drops (as in the curtain tutorials)? 

Fiona

Yes I did. The drops all start at the same point in the pattern. Everything I can find online suggests the pattern should match just inside the selvedge but it seems to be about 34cm in! Really panicking now as I have a LOT of material & I'm worried I've really messed up

SewHelpful:  

Is it a half drop pattern repeat fabric? If so you cut and match the drops differently.

Fiona

No I don't think it is. I've already cut the drops anyway but I tried shifting them up to see if that was the problem & it doesn't match at any point near the selvedge

I assume there's nothing I can do apart from just join them, unmatched, and hope it doesn't show too much! Have you ever come across this though as I don't know how I would have known when ordering & any advice I can find says never join in the middle of the panel! And with 3 panels per curtain wouldn't my middle panel end up being narrower than the others if I'm losing so much fabric to find a match?

SewHelpful:  

We have come across this before on an unbranded  wider than normal fabric (about 165cm wide). The pattern although printed across the entire width the place to join was at approx 135cm (standard width) across the drop.

Fiona

I think this fabric is slightly wider than normal but only a few centimetres. You would think they would put on the fabric details the allowances you need to make to match it horizontally as I simply don't have enough fabric to match it properly and it's no longer available. If I use the full width of each panel they should be pretty full so I'll just have to hope it isn't noticeable. Thanks anyway

Amanda

Making a Roman blind w187 x h150cm. I'd prefer to lay the pattern horizontally, is this recommended? Any tips?

SewHelpful:  

You can railroad (use it sideways) fabrics on blinds less that approx 130cm long but with your blind, this would require a horizontal join i. This is not something we would do in the workshop as the finished look of the blind would not look good.

Trish

Why has the fabric shrunk by about 4cm in length on the pattern matching seam on my tapestry type curtains.

SewHelpful:  

I am afraid that I cannot give you a definitive answer on that. If the fabric is tapestry type, it could simply be that the selvedges are tighter giving the impression of shrinkage? You could try snipping into them just to ease off the sides. Another thing could be that you pressed open the seams once joined, having not pressed all the fabric, and this has caused shrinkage only where pressed? As I say, these are best guesses but as I am not familiar with the fabric or project I am unable to be certain.

Regards

Cindy

Marjorie

Do you need to pattern match two pairs of curtains? I don't have enough fabric to do it without patching and I'm thinking it would be better to have them start at a different place than have a patch at the bottom. I can't get any more matching fabric.

SewHelpful:  

I always pattern match curtains and allow for that in my initial calculations. However, if you do not have any more fabric then there is nothing you can do about it (I definitely wouldn’t add a patch on the bottom).

It’s not the end of the world but something to remember for your next pair!

Good luck. Cindy

Doreen

I like your tutorial

Julia

I have some pattern material but it's difficult to see which way the pattern is running. Is there a way I can see the pattern is running the right way

SewHelpful:  

If you look at the selvedge somtimes there is an arrow that shows top and bottom.

Janey

Hi, I’ve bought a voile fabric with a vertical striped pattern. The fabric is on a background of cream with narrow curved stripes (1.5cm wide) in Ivory, buff, orange and brown spaced evenly with pattern repeat 44cm. I’m making them into a pair of curtains. When the curtains are closed should the stripes continue inland the same colour order or should I make the curtains mirror image. e.g. both curtains finishing with same colour at the centre point where they meet?

SewHelpful:  

Good question, we would look  to continue the pattern across when drawn.

Liz

On the video you state "cut along the lines to make it straight" after you have used the sewing machine to join your side lining. When you cut through the seam ends Will this make the cotten loose

SewHelpful:  

Yes they may fray depending on the fabric but this edge will be folded up and enclosed in a hem so you will not see it.

Jane

My curtain fabric is a woven pattern (rather than printed) and it matches exactly on the edge of the selvedge edge. There is no small overlap to see exactly where that pattern matches, which will mean the stitch line will be almost on the selvedge part. Should I still join the material this way? The only other way would be joining where I can see the pattern clearly, but then the two pieces wouldn't be placed selvedge to selvedge. Thanks for your help.

SewHelpful:  

Join it on the selvedge, this happens with some fabrics, make sure you cant see the selvedge on the join.

Sandra

Hello, I am a making a Roman blind 185cm wide and am joining the two outer pieces of fabric and one has joined nice and flat, the seam on the other has puckered. Please could you let me know why this could be. I am planning on cutting a second length and rejoining this puckered side. Thank you so much

SewHelpful:  

It could be lots of things,

The tension in your thread, you need to snip the selvedge, bad technique feeding it through the machine etc.

A walking foot  really helps to pass both layers through the machine so they don't pucker.

Carole

Trying to join flannel fabric with a repeating pattern of campers and tent all going the same way can't line up selvage any ideas thanks

SewHelpful:  

It could be a half drop pattern repeat, some fabrics join in a bit from the selvedge and very occasionally we have come across fabrics that join a long way in from the selvedge (especially if they are wider than normal)

Rose

I'm trying to pattern match curtains but the match is 2.5cm in from the selvage on one side. Can you advise me the best way to attempt it as it is a smallish pattern.

SewHelpful:  

We cant really tell you much more than in our video joining patterned fabric in the tutorial above. You will see in that video the join is a few cm in from the selvedge.

Brona Donnelly

Hi I'm joining a Laura Ashley floral fabric at the selvages and I'm finding that to match the pattern I have to pull one selvage over an inch (i.e.. the edges are not together.) Does this happen sometimes? Any fabrics I've used before have always met at the selveges or thereabouts.

SewHelpful:  

Yes it does happen with some fabrics. You just have to match it where it matches.

Sara

Hi, need to join lengths and would like advice on whether to match at a vertical line which is very thin or a different part of the pattern.don't want to end up with 2 lines or none

SewHelpful:  

When you join at the selvedge there should be one place to join in the pattern. If you have problems joining at this point in the pattern you will need to move the join over a whole horizontal pattern repeat. With a small horizontal pattern repeat the fabric loss may be acceptable, with a large horizontal pattern repeat you will probably find the amount of fabric you lose by shifting the point where you join is too much. 

As for the vertical line it is difficult to comment without seeing the fabric, the video and images in the tutorial should give you an idea of how accurate you can get the join. At the end of the day if it doesn't work you can always unpick it and join elsewhere.

Sandra Sergeant

my fabric does not have a horizontal pattern that I can match at the seam, neither does it have an obvious vertical pattern. The pattern is staggered,overlapping and 8cm from the selvedge. How should I make my curtains without losing too much width when joining?

SewHelpful:  

First check you haven't got a half drop pattern repeat, There is a mini tutorial explaining what that is on the website. We suspect you haven't.

Otherwise you have to join it where it matches. The pattern usually matches close to the selvedge or within a few cm. We have had the odd fabric where it has been a bit further in.

Jullie

Do you trim the seam when joinining horizontal pattern widths as they are quite wide? In my case 5.5cm. Thanks Julie

SewHelpful:  

You can trim if you feel it is too wide we probably wouldn't in this case.

Jackie

WHEN I HEM THE RIGHT AND LEFT ALWAYS HEM GOES LONG OR SHORT OF THE MATERIAL OR IS NOT IN ORDER. EVEN I PUT THE TAPE IS NOT STRAIGHT OR NEED. WHY I AM FACING THIS PROBLEM.

SewHelpful:  

Are you pinning across the join to prevent slippage as in the video.

Add Question/Comment

4000
Drag & drop images (max 3)