Working with a Really LARGE Print

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So…

in a recent post I showed you how our new design, the Cosmo Convertible looks all dressed up in PVC-coated cotton print by Marimekko and because so many of you were interested in trying out this fascinating material, we included a list of helpful tips to increase your chances for a successful outcome.

But here’s the deal… following the original post we got almost as many inquiries as to how I fussy cut the fabric so that the print would “match” along the side edges, so I thought I’d dedicate one more post to this particular sample, only this time I’ll show for you how I went about making the sides “LOOK” like they were perfectly matched.   🙂

The first thing I need to let you know about this fabric is that it literally had the largest repeat I have EVER worked with. Do you believe that ONE repeat was ACTUALLY 1- 1/4 yards and about 50″ wide? So with this in mind, there was NO WAY there was going to be a perfect match at the seams unless I had bought two repeats, and that just wasn’t happening at this price! 🙂

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So… in order to get a “bird’s eye” view of what I had to work with, I laid the fabric full out on the floor (all one repeat of it, that is…).

Next, I traced myself some full-sized pattern pieces for the Bag Front and the Upper and also the Lower Back. It’s impossible to do this having to place pattern pieces on the fold. The full-sized pieces let’s me see BOTH side edges, which is imperative.

But, it didn’t take me long to realize that there would be impossible to get a good match on both sides. So I opted for the next best thing… that being a pretty darn good match on one side and a color-blocked match on the other side, but even that was difficult to find. That random pink flower up in the upper corner messed up most every one of my plans until I landed on this one.

merrimekWith this placement, the seam in the midst of the red flower is a near perfect match. I then cheated the bottom corners out just a tad in order to get a better color match on the opposite side seam. You’ll notice that now both top corner edges on that side will be black and white… a completely different black & white print… but still black & white all the same, and I’m afraid that’s as good as its gonna get. (As you can see, I “placed” the 2nd SideBack pattern piece with a red outline so you could more easily visualize it with me.)

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The yellow print on both side edge “makes its appearance” about 7″ down from the top corner of the Bag. The print is a considerably different… after all, the black & white print is a total NON-match, and the direction of the yellow lines is out of sync, but because the colors aligns pretty much perfect, the eye is pleased with the outcome (and so am I).   You can see the finished result for this seam at right.

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At left you can see how the seams on the “red” side of the bag turned out. It looks real good along the upper half of the seam, no surprise there, but the matching worsens toward the bottom corner, a direct result of “cheating” the edges out to improve the color match on the “yellow” side of the bag.  🙂

So…

I don’t know how helpful this was. I’ve used this technique before as I actually quite enjoy the tricky alignment challenges that some prints present. Hopefully this will at least provide graphic evidence that your matching need not be perfect in order to be pleasing and sometimes the most satisfying outcomes unfold VERY slowly (I easily spent over 1-1/2 hours cutting out these five pieces.

But now… it’s YOUR turn!

I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there how loves a fussy-cutting challenge?
And if not, do you think you’d be inclined to tackle one now?

And remember, we actually LOVE comments (and questions too), so if you’d like to share yours, please do so in the space provided below and stay tuned for our next post in this series because we’re getting oh-so close to the release!

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8 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I want my seams to match also! I think you did a remarkable job getting the colors to match on a print this bold! It looks great. Cutting out full sized pattern pieces (instead of on the fold) is a great idea!

  2. Thanks for all these tips and the photos really were well done. My one question is regarding the grain of the fabric. I can’t remember if this fabric was a vinyl – which would eliminate concern for thinking about the grain – but what if it’s just a normal fabric. It looks as if you’d be laying the pattern pieces out on the bias. Is that a concern on regular woven fabric or does the matching process take precedence?

    • Very good question, but here’s the thing. It’s my experience that in almost EVERY instance, grain makes absolutely no difference when making bags. That’s because there are no loose hanging edges that can cause stretching and shape loss. For the most part, all bag edges are encased in seams and further kept in place by the foundation materials underneath which acts like a skeleton for the fabric.

      I know most seamstresses have an aversion to cutting out pieces that aren;t on the grain. Its a sewing rule that is deeply ingrained (no pun intended) in each of us, particularly those that were brought up making clothes. But I have unlearned this rule and I rarely if ever worry about grain now, no matter what kind of fabric I am using, as long as I am making bags. it’s really quite liberating and opens up a world of possiblities when making bags! 🙂

      Hope this helps!

      • Miss Kathy, this post simply rocked my entire bag-making world! There has been many a time that I wanted to get away from cutting on the grain, but that rule that was so firmly drummed into my head as I learned to sew screamed until I relented and followed the grain. Now that I’m free to cut in any direction, there is no telling what I’ll get into next! Thank you for liberating me!

        My pattern library contains over 400 purse, bag and tote entries (including every one of yours), but I find myself hanging out in the Studio Kat section more than any other. Your designs are so much fun.

        From one southern gal to another — great work and many thanks!

  3. Fussy cutting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love to create my bags with pieced fronts and backs and I often spend hours figuring out how to do it so that seams and colors match up perfectly, even on either side of a zipper. I do screw it up once in a while and then the decision must be made as to whether to keep fussing with it, do it again, or live with what I have. In different situations, I have done all of the above. Thanks so much for the example. I think this will make it easier to be philosophical about it and look more at the final effect the next time.

  4. absolutely love the fabric!!! where can I get some of this?