How to Join Patterned Fabric Panels
Mini Tutorials
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.

Example A: Joining a pattern (pattern on seam)

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.

Example B: Joining a pattern (pattern NOT on seam)

MATCHING AND JOINING A PATTERN - NO PATTERN ALONG THE SEAM

In the example below I will be cutting the fabric just above the single leaf. Lay a long ruler along this line and mark with a vanishing marker.

Cut along this line.

Joining fabric panels.

When you are joining fabric panels that have a stripe or vertical pattern that does not fall across the selvedge you will use a different method than if you were joining fabric with an all over pattern.

The first thing to do is measure the horizontal pattern repeat – The distance between the pattern across the width.

In the image below you will see that the distance between the pattern is 23 cm

– ALWAYS MEASURE FROM AND TO EXACTLY THE SAME POINT ON THE PATTERN – IN THIS EXAMPLE, FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE DOUBLE LEAVED STEM.

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 and the vertical pattern should match up.CHECK THEY MATCH UP.

Level up your selvedges and bottom of the panel and check that the point where you measured from lines up across the width.

You now know what your horizontal pattern repeat is – in this example 23cm – so you can half it to find out where to join. In this example it is 11.5cm.

NOTE – MAKE SURE YOU MEASURE FROM EXACTLY THE SAME POINT AS YOU TOOK YOUR INITIAL MEASUREMENT – IN THIS EXAMPLE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE DOUBLE LEAVED STEM.

Measure this distance in regular intervals vertically up the curtain panel and mark it with your vanishing marker.

Draw a line along these marks to join them up. This will be your sewing line.

Now pin in place. Place pins horizontally across the line in order to stop the fabric slipping apart when you machine stitch along this line. Place pins at regular intervals – it is always best to use too many rather than too few. It is fine to sew over these pins.

Take your fabric to the sewing machine and stitch along this line.

Press open the seam.

Now check that your pattern is correctly joined. Measure the distance between the horizontal repeat across the join.

Now you have successfully joined your patterned fabric panels.

Extra Help & Comments

Sew Helpful
Post your questions and comments here, we will reply so everyone can see the answer.
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.
Sew Helpful
Are you pinning across the join to prevent slippage as in the video.
Jullie
Do you trim the seam when joinining horizontal pattern widths as they are quite wide? In my case 5.5cm. Thanks Julie
Sew Helpful
You can trim if you feel it is too wide we probably wouldn't in this case.
Rebekah
Hi

I was wondering how you cut out your pattern pieces once you have done this? So that the fabric matches up on the garment.
Sew Helpful
Hi Rebekah

We only make soft furnishings and our tutorials show you how to take into account pattern repeat when cutting your lengths to be joined for a curtain or blind etc. Unfortunately we do not have any experience with cutting the pieces to make a garment. 
Andrea
Hi there, could you tell me what Janome model sewing machine you are using? ...it looks a very sturdy machine.
Sew Helpful
It's a Janome 1600P QC. We think it is brilliant and find it has the strength of an industrial machine but the controllability of a domestic. We found it so good we actually got rid of our industrial sewing machine as we stopped using it.

Janome 1600P QC Sewing Machine
Andrea
Thank you thats really helpful...
Judy Cole
Love the red floral fabric. Can you share where you purchased? Thank you
Love the tutorial. So very helpful.
Sew Helpful
I'm afraid that particular fabric was supplied by a customer so we don't know it's name or where to buy it from.
kim
Hello
I'm not sure how to pattern match when cutting out a skirt pattern and sewing it together. Can you help please?
Thanks x
Sew Helpful
I'm afraid our expertise is with curtains blinds cushions and soft furnishings. If there are any skirt makers out there that want to post a reply that would be great and help anyone visiting the site in the future.
Renu
When you join the patterns along the selvage, do we have to cut off the selvage after joining? I also read that clipping the selvage prevents it from puckering when joining fabrics. Could you please explain how it is done? Should the seams be pressed open or folded to one side and pressed and why?
Thanks,
Renu
Sew Helpful
A few questions here so here goes;

1) No we do not cut off the selvedge after joining.
2) Snipping to prevent puckering when it is tight, we would snip into the edge not pattern about 1cm to ease and pulling and tightness so the fabric can open out to it's correct shape.
3)We always pree the seams open. Folding to one side makes a thicker seam. 
Ann Webb
The dimensions of my blind are width - 170cms and drop - 130cms. My lining cut drop is 198cms. I need 2 drops of lining, should I do a centre join or 2 side joins like I am planning to do for the fabric, I am using black out lining.
Sew Helpful
We make up our lined blinds with a centre panel and side join each side. With  blackout lining you will end up with pin pricks of light in the blackout along the joins and along the rod pockets. It can also be tricky threading the rods through traditional pockets with joins in the lining as they can catch on the seam flaps inside the pocket.

We actually make our blackout blinds a different way, but that tutorial will be coming later. 
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 selvege. How should I make my curtains without losing too much width when joining?
Sew Helpful
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.
Mafalda Barreto
Find these pages very useful, do you have a printable version?
Sew Helpful
No sorry.
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
Sew Helpful
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.
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.
Sew Helpful
Yes it does happen with some fabrics. You just have to match it where it matches.
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.
Sew Helpful
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.
Jules
Hi what would you advise. I am making a Roman blind finished width is 135 and fabric is 138 would you join one strip on or two larger ones either side? Thank you
Sew Helpful
We never join on one side. In the workshop we would add a strip of fabric to each side. We would  also give the customer the option of not using the full width of the fabric and having a complimentary plain 10cm fabric border down each side.
Jules
How large would you make each panel to make it look good? Thanks for you help
Sew Helpful
As we said above we would generally go for a side strip on the face of the blind of 10cm width.
Sharon
Hi, when cutting the drops of fabric (I need 6 widths for 2 sets of curtains) do I only need to add extra length for one repeat of the pattern (16cm in my fabric? Or do I have to add 16cm to each width? Thanks!
Sew Helpful
You'll find information about calculating the fabric needed in our curtain making tutorials STEP 3 then cutting the fabric drops in STEP 6.

You basically need one extra pattern repeat  for the whole pair of curtains if you are placing the pattern. The cut drops will almost certainly be longer than if you are using plain fabric because you need round up each drop ito a whole number (adjusted cut drop) so you are cutting the fabric in the same place on the pattern for each drop. That means they all line up when you join them and don't stagger along the bottom.
Rachel
My curtains require 5 drops (ie 2.5 widths per panel). Where do I add the 1/2 width? To the outside edge of 2 joined full widths or in between the 2 full widths?
Sew Helpful
On the outside edges. It is covered in STEP 6 of the curtain making tutorials.
Rachel
My curtains require 5 drops (ie 2.5 widths per panel). Where do I add the 1/2 width? To the outside edge of 2 joined full widths or in between the 2 full widths?
Lestat
Helpful tip

You could use an iron to create a crease on the fabric. You wouldn't need to use the fabric pen because of the bold crease as you sew.

Helen
The actual curtains are 100% wool. Using fire-retardant linings, would it be OK to sew them in or make them separately and hook them onto the header-tape?
Sew Helpful
I'm sorry we aren't experts on the requirements for fire regulations
Linda Watts
:-( Cut out my blackout lining before I watched the video - didn't mark which end is the top / bottom -will this matter when joining together or is there a way to distinguish this?
Sew Helpful
Shouldn't matter if you cant see from the grain whch way up the drops go.

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