Written by Diane Montgomery
Pattern matching is a love hate relationship for me. I love the final results but it definitely takes more planning and time to correctly place and keep the continuation of a pattern going. I feel that it is a disservice to both the client and the artist of the pattern to not give it the utmost attention. If a client has chosen a patterned fabric I imagine it is because they were attracted to the pattern as a whole. Wouldn’t it be a shame if it was chopped up?!
When beginning a project that has pattern matching involved, I focus on what should be centered on the seat cushion (this is for most patterns) or what should be centered along the border/boxing of the seat cushion (this is for geometric, plaid, or checked patterns). If your existing cushion fits well you can go ahead and cut out your cushion face. If it doesn’t or if you are altering the padding of the arms and/or inside back, you can cut a large square with the front line of the cushion falling where you will want the final front line to be. Place your cut cushion face lining up the pattern on the next pattern repeat. You will then measure 1’’ up from your cut cushion edge. This will take into account the seam allowance for both your face and border. Then place the cut border lining up the pattern on the next pattern repeat. In my example diagram, my nosing is 4’’ deep from the edge of the seat to the sewn seam of the decking. I measure 4 ½’’ up from the bottom edge of the border to get the top line of my nosing (4’’ depth plus ½’’ border seam allowance). The cushion and nosing are what everything else will go off of to keep the pattern continuous.
The two biggest things to pay attention to, are including your seam allowances when measuring and always mark your centers. I also love making the seat and back cushion continue the pattern. To do this, I measure the depth of my back cushion (let’s say it is 3’’ deep) and work forward/down from the back of the cut seat cushion. Place your seat cushion face lining up the pattern on the next pattern repeat. Measure down 3’’ from the back of the seat cushion. This will be the bottom line of the back cushion. Once both cushions are sewn, stuffed, and in place, everything will line up beautifully!!
Pattern matching is definitely a learning process and I am still learning. I don’t get it perfect every time, but I do feel like it is my duty to try my absolute hardest to keep the continuation of the pattern going throughout the entire piece. Yes it takes time, yes it takes extra yardage, but I promise it is so worth it and your client will be so pleased with your attention to detail.
Diane Montgomery is the owner and upholsterer of Coventry Lane Upholstery. She began upholstering at home in 2011, found an apprenticeship opportunity in Columbia, SC in 2012 where she worked until 2015. At this time she moved outside of Nashville, TN where she opened and operates her shop out of her house. Her projects include mainly residential furniture for both regular clients and Nashville designers. Her work can be found on Instagram @coventrylaneupholstery