When it comes time to pick out fabrics for your next sewing project, there are so many choices—and not all that easy to choose from. If you don’t have any specific patterns in mind, or want something more unique than what’s already lying around, here is some helpful advice on matching plaids with fabric designs. You’ll find tips on choosing coordinating colors as well. And lastly, we’ve included links to several free design libraries and online resources where you can search through thousands of different pattern pieces. Let’s get started!
Tips on Matching Patterns
In general, there are two ways to coordinate patterns together — either using similar shapes, like squares and rectangles, or by picking complementary colors. When selecting color schemes, keep these things in mind:
Choose complimentary colors.
This means that they should be opposite each other on the wheel. For example, red and green, yellow and blue, orange and purple. These colors work very nicely together because their opposites are black and white, which makes them appear balanced against each other without competing. You’d never think of putting a bright colored shirt under a dark sweater, right? That doesn’t happen often enough.
Pick contrasting colors.
These are usually darker colors that are used to make lighter ones pop. Contrasting colors are typically found at opposite ends of the spectrum, such as light blues versus deep purples, pastels versus bold greens, etc. They tend to be a little more dramatic, and less balanced than complementary colors. However, since they stand out more, they can add interest to an outfit. Just remember to balance them against each other — sometimes too much contrast might look weird. Or maybe even tacky.
Avoid clashing colors.
Clashes occur when the same color family (e.g., pinks and peaches) are paired with another color family (e.g., oranges). They can look great on paper, but rarely do they translate into real life, especially if those colors are not evenly distributed throughout the garment. Sometimes they end up being way too distracting. Also beware of combining two different shades within the same color family, e.g., pairing mint green with teal. Both of them belong to the same family, but they just don’t mix well together.
Use neutral tones.
Another important thing to consider when creating outfits is whether or not you need additional neutrals. For instance, you could use a neutral tone like pink for accentuating certain features while making others disappear altogether. Since pink is generally considered a feminine color, its usage would vary depending on who wears it. On men, it works best to soften facial structure, giving off a fresh, youthful appearance whereas women would probably wear it to complement their eyes.
Don’t Go Overboard with Stripes and Prints
One final tip regarding coordination is to avoid going overboard with prints. While mixing prints does create interesting looks, try to limit yourself to only three different print types rather than having five or six different prints. Otherwise, the overall effect won’t really sing.
Don’t go crazy with stripes. Stripes are popular among both men and women, but they shouldn’t dominate every piece of clothing you own. Too much striped material tends to make everything else blend together instead of standing out individually.
How to Choose Coordinating Colors
The first step in finding coordinating colors is determining your style preferences. Do you prefer fashion forward styles, vintage styles, classic styles, or casual styles? Once you narrow down your tastes, you can focus on the following guidelines:
Stay away from busy colors.
Busy patterns can seem overwhelming in terms of complexity, but take it slow. Start small and build upon success.
Try repeating patterns.
Repeating patterns provide a nice focal point to bring attention to larger areas of the garment, like pockets and sleeves. Plus, repeating patterns help elongate figure flaws.
Think vertical lines.
Vertical lines are good for adding emphasis to waistbands, collars, cuffs, etc. A few strategically placed vertical strips creates visual separation between body parts so nothing blends together accidentally.
Play with scale.
Scale refers to the size difference between elements of a given shape. In regards to patterns, large scales are ideal for smaller items like turtlenecks and cardigans while medium scales work better for blouses and jackets. Larger dresses benefit from smaller scales, while smaller dresses work best with medium scales. Play around with scale sizes until you land on a couple that feel comfortable.
Monochromatic garments feature exactly one shade per element, such as top, bottom, sleeve, pocket, hemline, etc. Using mostly solid colors helps to create clean separates, particularly when working with multiple patterns.
Here are some common examples of coordinated outfits created based on the principles mentioned above:
Classic vampiressuit styled with skinny jeans, fitted tee, and high heel shoes
Trench coat over floral dress with cropped pants
Pinstriped button front jacket over printed silk blouse
Plaid skirt worn with plain tank top and ballet flats
What kind of projects are you interested in trying out? What kinds of clothes do you love wearing most frequently? Share with us below!
Sew Something Cool!
It seems everyone loves to sew now days. We hope you enjoyed learning how to coordinate patterns and designs with plaids. Now that you understand the basics, check out these fun DIY tutorials along with our list of favorite patterns sites. Happy crafting!