Here are a few general tips from me:
- Lay up your cloth, lay out the pattern pieces and decide where everything is going to match first vertically, then horizontally.
- Draw guidelines and match points on your pattern to remind you where everything is planned to line up - you'll spot a few random scribbles on mine!
- Remember that you need to match the stitching lines, not the cutting lines.
- When all planning is done, double-check everything!
So, where should we be matching our checks anyway?
The answer is, it depends on your check and your pattern. Sometimes you can wangle things to match everywhere possible, sometimes you just have to accept that the centre and sides are all that will match. You are limited by the design of your check, but you are not necessarily limited by the design of your pattern - you can easily shift a dart or seam slightly, to better suit the size of your check or centre things up.
Here's what I did as an example - I was able to match checks in the following places:
- CB seam (bodice and skirt) = centre of red stripe (A)
- CF seam (bodice and skirt) = centre of red stripe (B)
- I moved the back darts laterally about 6mm, so they were centred on a red stripe - to produce a symmetrical dart when sewn. (C)
- I narrowed the skirt a fraction so the stripes matched vertically at the side seam (not visible here)
- The shoulder seam couldn't be matched without adjusting the CF or CB stripe - that would have affected the skirt side seam, which I decided was a greater priority.
- Centre of sleeve = centre of red stripe (D)
- CB seams (E)
- Side seams (bodice and skirt) (F)
- Side front seam above dart (G)
- I increased the front dart intake slightly to enable stripes to match below the dart too (H)
- I placed the dart along a blue stripe, but I could have adjusted the dart angle to make it fully symmetrical with the stripes matching vertically too. (I)
- The back and front armhole notches were positioned on a blue stripe, so the corresponding sleeve notch was too. (J) (If the sleeve head is the right shape, and the ease is the right amount, you can often match the stripes right up to the shoulder seam. This worked on the back armhole, but the front sleeve head was steeper and it wouldn't match - mmm... it would have been good if it was the other way around!)
I'm just finishing this dress now, and promise to take photos of all the matching (and non-matching) bits so you can see the end result! Next up - more handy check-cutting tips!
Happy sewing :)