Bias Cut Plaid Skirts Are Evil

There is a reason that Burda doesn’t show you the side seams on this puppy

That, is because bias -cut, printed plaid skirts are evil. EVIL I tell you. And, impossible to match at ANY FREAKING SEAM. Sherril says it’ll look ready to wear and Phyllis told me to pick my battles.

I’m working with a SCANT 1.25 yards of this fabric that a colleague brought me  from China. I thought I could do it. But, after tracing and cutting on Sunday — I’m ready to cut myself I’m so frustrated. So far, I don’t have a single solitary matched seam. And, that includes the center back seam.  I’ve put this project down until the weekend and need to seriously consider if I’m going to even bother constructing it I’m so unhappy with the matching of plaid.

I’m kind of tempted to just skip to this:

9-2009-111 Burda Magazine

And, I even have the same Michal Kors-like wool flannel

Let’s see what a few days away from the plaid will do. Recharge and refresh my friends 😉



  1. Thanks for the warning on that skirt. I loved it when I saw it. I will avoid plaid like the plague. Definitely give it a rest and try something else. I love the dress you’re thinking of making and think it will look smashing on you!

  2. The only way I would try to match a bias-cut plaid anything is if I had tons of yardage, and the pattern were a simple circle skirt. Even then, I’d think twice. I’d much rather spend my time working on finer things than fighting fabric+pattern.

    Kudos to you for trying it out though. You’re a braver soul and I

  3. Plaid and bias is a tricky combo, and that pattern will not match in the side seams no matter how much fabric you have at your disposal. It’s due the fold in front; the angle on the side seam is not the same as the back.
    Move on to the dress, it will be a knock out on you.

  4. A break is certainly a good thing, if you want to go ahead skip the idea of matching side seams.
    And if it’s not working: just go on to the beautiful dress.

  5. Phyllis brought a plaid dress (from Burda as well) up to cut out at the studio. We came to the same conclusion about the evilness of bias plaids. I agree with her. Pick your battles. This one seems unwinnable. That dress, OTOH, is GORGEOUS!

  6. Taking a break from it is the best thing to do. After looking at the lines for a long time, they do seem to blend together! It takes time and patience and careful cutting, but then again, I’m crazy and love working with plaids and stripes, so feel free in thinking that I’m a nut job. I just finished an a-line plaid bias skirt, with side seams that matched. Granted, it *absolutey did not* have the complexity of the Burda with what I’m assuming is a pleated front and darted/plain back (haven’t looked at the line drawing in ages), which will not match very much if at all.

  7. I made this skirt in a plaid and there is really no way to match the side seams because of the fold in the centre front. But you can match the centre back. I figured the front with the folds was interesting enough that non matching on the sides was not an issue. I made my skirt in a light wool plaid in May, and wore it at least once a week all winter ( in Australia) and I still love it. It’s fabulous and flattering and interesting. Go for it!
    I love that dress too

  8. I think it is so interesting and the plaids are going in all directions so you do not need to match the side seams. Centre back may be an issue. But if it is already cut out, just make it up! It will look great from the front and luckily we can’t see our own backs..hehe!

  9. If you already cut the pieces in ways that don’t match up at the seams, the plaid won’t magically rearrange itself to please. BUT – you could cut a 1″ (+ SA) wide straight-grain galloon for each side seam, and use that to create a deliberate barrier for the bias pieces on each side – that way the skirt will look young and intentionally disconnected. You’ll have to remove 0.5″ from each skirt panel side seam to keep the overall width same as before, of course. But you knew that.

  10. I made this skirt but in a solid – and only because I didn’t have any plaid on hand. My rule of thumb with bias is to match where I can and pretend like it’s RTW for the rest. Match the back seam and realize there’s no way the sides will ever match.

    Remember the argyle I got from Carolyn? I matched it at the back zip but the sides of skirt don’t match. I figured it was way more important that it match on either side of the zip.

    It’s a great plaid. I think it wants to be that skirt. That said, take a deep breath, have a glass of wine and make the dress first.

  11. I agree about picking your battles. I’d say the center back -has- to be matched, or you won’t like your butt in it. Let the side seams do whatever they want :-). Note that the front pleat will show a wildly unmatched look anyway (which looks good in the picture), so why not consider the side seams as part of that context? But the front pleat means that the angle of the side seams will be different on front and back, so that matching is mathematically impossible. Trust me, I got close to a PhD in geometry..

    And whatever you decide, be nice to yourself about it, will you :-)? This is supposed to be something you love, not an occasion for hara-kiri.

  12. Some time away from the plaid-matching nightmare may be a good thing. I hope it works out, because the fabric is too cute!

  13. I totally agree with Marie-Christine and Ann: don’t even think about the side seams, just focus on how you want to look front and back.

  14. That’s not a whole lot of fabric to match a plaid, especially one on the bias. Put it away for a while and look at it with fresh eyes. No one but another sewer will notice. You can pretend it’s rtw.

  15. Has anyone tried cutting one of those 1-piece skirts (50’s vintage) on the bias? Because I’m too lazy to try it myself …

  16. Well, I agree that bias skirts or anything below the waist is fraught with many problems, but once you solve them, it can be lots of fun and a wow garment. The problem is that solving problems with a bias can mean so much work that it’s hard to stick with it. And it also means that exact is too loose a term to describe the techniques used in sewing with a bias correctly….then ad a plaid on top of that – well that just spells neurosis to me!

    If you’re willing to plug through all the problems, they are solvable, but it’s an awful lot of work for a skirt on the bias.

    Time out is always good!!! 😉

  17. Maybe you could use piping between the pieces, so the mismatched plaid isn’t so obvious? I would simple sew some bias tape over the finished seam, but I like the look of it. It just doesn’t fit everyone’s style, I think…

  18. Ah… plaid… my favorite color.

    Ok so I used to work for a designer/manufacturer of clothing. We dealt with a lot of panels of patterned fabrics so here is what you have to do.

    1. Have at least 1 yard extra to allow for obvious issues. Wide plaids are better because they allow you more room.

    2. A cutting table is oh so helpful because you really need to spend a good 1.5 hours matching the plaids lines up.

    3 If your cutting surface is a pin-to/nail to surface GREAT… if not have oodles and I mean oodles of safety pins handy.

    4. First fold your fabric length wise. Match the ends and smooth. Watch for uneven salvages… they will confuse the process.

    5. On my most recent plaid, there was an off set on one side. So where the edge on one side was burgandy… the burgandy stripe was a full 1 inch in on the other.

    6. I like patterns that have a “Cut 4 Front and Back” so all I have to do is make for MATCHED layers and then pin and cut the pattern.

    7. Ok… so you’ve fold in half, lined up the edges correctly. Fold the top layer 12 inches at a time creating a bolt-like section going close to folded edge.

    8. Check that your pattern is matching. Red line on red line, blue on blue, “flower on flower” etc. In the factory we “nailed” through the fabric into the cutting board as we matched the patterns… but if you smooth and pin as you go… it will work pretty well.

    7. Each time you unfold another layer,… double check the cross grain along the edges make sure these match up as well. Keep working slowly and accurately (or have a reliable friend help)

    8. If you are going to fold width-wise now… you’ll do this process again. Assuming you are going to do just the one fold and match…

    9. Take a look at your pattern. Measure up from the bottom edge approximately the distance between the plaid runs. In other words if your burgandy stripe is every 2 inches… mark that on your pattern. So up from hem on front “— burg stripe” or just “—” This will help you match the patterns on the plaid.

    10. Lay the pattern on the matched fabric. Carefully line up the lines you made to the lines of the plaid. Pin, Chalk, Cut… as you normally would. (I like to pin and cut.)

    If you have taken the time (and it does take time) to match the plaids… your garment will be perfection.

    Or you could go against convention all together and purposely mismatch the plaids.

      • If you go to an art store and get a couple of “presentation boards” that fold out, they work great for this. They are cardboard and white on one side. Mine are something like 32″ by 48″ or so.

        I put them on my ironing board then pin directly into the cardboard like a nail. It really holds the fabric still as you work. I hope I explained that well enough… the process can be daunting but the more you play with it the better you’ll get.

        I suggest you try a vest or something in plaid first before you attempt to match the plaid for the dress. It takes practice and lots of time.

        I worked for Nancy Harris, of Wooded River ( back when she still did clothing. If you look at her bedding you’ll see the matching we had to do. We would cut 50 jackets in one size at once. Stack them, matching the patterns as above…. then cut with a material saw.
        here’s a link to her throws.

        Imagine matching these at the shoulders, center back (bear, moose… and back then wolves) Making sure the Larame throw material had the “guns” would fall on the hips of a jacket. AND every jacket had to be the same. After that… plaid is a piece of cake. :o)

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