5 Tips for matching stripes

fat and thin nosh stripes1

Mmmm! Stripes

I have a minor obsession with stripes, and a Pinterest board to prove it.

Blog package NOSHSo when I was sent this pretty little bundle with delicious pink ribbon tied around it from NOSH, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Feel the quality, drape it over my skin… (oh sorry, I’m getting a bit carried away… back in the room).

NOSH fabric flexibility testI can honestly tell you, the quality of NOSH fabrics is exceptional. You can tell from the moment you feel it, soft and thick enough for you to know that it will have a long life. Even with active kids who put jersey through the test.

And what’s more, it’s organic, so it’s very gentle on the skin, even for babies.

Once you sew with Organic NOSH fabrics, you will never look back. I doubt I’ll ever buy cheap jersey from Walthamstow market again.

leggings and scarf

Black and white stripes are a classic. This white here is actually vanilla which is just off white if you’re looking closely. But all the same I was super excited and couldn’t wait to start sewing.

It makes such a difference sewing with good quality knit. Even unpicking isn’t as painful.

leg warmersYou know before I started sewing I never even thought about matching stripes. On ready to wear clothes they hardly ever match up. Matching stripes can mostly only be seen in couture and handmade. So the idea of inspecting the seams of my clothing didn’t even occur to me.

One of my first sewing projects was a long sleeve striped top and it didn’t enter my head to match the stripes. It wasn’t until watching the Great British Sewing Bee Series 2 that I became aware of pattern matching.

fat stripes1

I have never managed to get my stripes to line up in past attempts, but I tried a little harder this time. And remembered some tips that I got from my sewing teacher…

matching stripse illustration

1 DO NOT cut mirror image pattern pieces together

Instead cut out one piece and use that piece as your template to cut out the mirror image. Lay your template on top of the fabric and match your stripes. Hold your fabric in place with pins, lots of them, at an angle. Then cut your mirror image pattern piece. (You may need to put your paper pattern back on top for accuracy.)

2 Match your stripes with pins, lots of them

If cutting on the fold, again match your stripes with pins at the raw edge of your fold. This ensures you are cutting your stripes nice and straight.

3 Tack by hand

When joining your seams, use pins (lots of them) to match up those stripes. Then tack the seams together by hand. Yes, by hand. I promise you, this will work a lot better than going straight to your machine with pins.

4 Do not let your fabric stretch

Make sure you do not let your fabric stretch whilst sewing. If you have one of those fancy extension tables attached to your machine you should have no problem.

5 Go slow

Even if you are a speedy sewer, with stripes you need to slow down and take extra care to ensure your stripes remain matched.


That, my fellow sewing friends may just be the key to perfectly matched stripes. If you have any other tips, please let me know. I want to be the queen of matching stripes one day.

shorts and legwarmers

OK, so my stripes are not all perfect. But wait I have a good reason excuse.

  1. I seriously need glasses but I haven’t got round to buying any yet.
  2. I sometimes drift off in the middle of sewing and start thinking about other things. Ooops!

But I am quite proud of myself, as this is my best stripe matching I’ve ever done.

What would you make if you were given striped jersey and raspberry rib from NOSH?

fat stripes5

Right away I knew the thick stripes would end up as leggings. I had an image in my head yonks ago and was waiting to find just the right size stripe, then as luck would have it along came this package from NOSH.

fat stripes4Darcy feels most comfortable wearing leggings, nowadays if she’s not wearing her Jagger Jeans, no doubt she’ll be wearing leggings. Even if they have holes in them (most of them do, I blame the cheap fabric), even if I didn’t make them (I really need to get round to making her a whole batch) and even if they sit just past her knees (ready to wear leggings could never fit a girl with the waist of a 5 year old and the legs of a 10 year old).

fat stripes2When Darcy was five she said to me “Mummy why do all my leggings come up to my knees? Everyone else’s go to their ankles.” So she was more than delighted to finally have pair of leggings that actually sat at her ankles. And I even added an extra couple of inches to allow for growth.

fat stripes3

The remaining maxi stripes became an infinity scarf, which I’ll probably pinch and wear myself now and again when Darcy isn’t looking.

thin stripes1I could quite easily have made leggings for Scout too, she normally likes to wear whatever Darcy is wearing but I wanted to make something a bit more exciting. Ottobre Design has tons of knit patterns so I had a look through the copy which I was given as part of sponsorship for our Paris trip

short back and frontI found some retro style Grasshopper shorts from the Summer 3/2014 edition. The magazine includes over 40 patterns and costs less than £10, so it offers value for money even if you only like 2 patterns. I’ll be looking out for the next kids issue. 

thin stripes5It was the first time I had made anything from Ottobre. You need some prior sewing knowledge before you attempt to make anything as the instructions are not as thorough as the average PDF pattern. Plus you need add seam allowance.

thin stripes6The shorts took ages to make, I knew they would because of last time when I made a similar pair. I sized up (2 sizes) because of the anxiety I have when sewing from a pattern that I have never used before.

I always worry that they may end up too small. Too big I don’t mind. But too small is such a wasted sew. The only change I made to the pattern was to use binding around the pocket. The stitching underneath looked ropey and it was bugging me so I put the binding on and it looks much better now.

thin stripes7

thin stripes2Every little girl who wears retro style shorts needs some matching leg warmers right? So I made some for Scout and used the pink ribbing as flat piping down the sides. That’s enough pink for me. Any more and I’d be out of my comfort zone.

Ottobre crocodile hoodieI also made the crocodile hoodie from Ottobre Design 1/2015 edition. But instead of crocodile stripes I made flat piping using the NOSH raspberry rib. I left bottom unhemmed because that’s how I roll, or rather that’s how the hem rolls.

hoodie_foldedThe sweatshirt fabric I used (not from NOSH) wasn’t very stretchy so it’s a struggle getting it over Scouts head which is a shame. But I’m still pleased with it. I love the look of the two stripes down the hood and how it joins to meet the binding round the rim of the hood that’s lined with the mini stripes.

thin stripes3By the way did you notice a small white furry character in some my pictures? That’s Ted. He was a feature in my pictures a lot in the early days, but was in need of a well deserved break. Well he’s had his break and now he’s back (by popular demand). Did you miss him?


37 thoughts on “5 Tips for matching stripes

  1. I love stripes too and have noticed recently that my rtw striped clothes rarely match. It’s such an easy thing to do in many cases, there’s no excuse! I love those leggings and shorts.


  2. So you already know that I LOVE all of this. Super cool stuff my dear, you’re a rockstar and your daughters too. Those shorts are really cool, I think I have that Ottobre so I may be copying you in a near future. 🙂 sorry for all my crazy fan comments heheh Great Job!


  3. Such cool outfits, Olu! You are right about Nosh fabrics. I have just finished a Ziggy for Teresa I made with a striped knit and it was a pleasure to sew with such good quality and beautiful fabric.
    You know I love Ted so it is great to have him back on your blog. Plus, your kids are real top models!


  4. I am so glad Ted is back ! And i love this post !! Your photos are amazing And all the garments are so so cool !! Also thank you for the matching stripes tips : so enlightening !! 😘


  5. Ace – particularly love those maxi stripes. People have described my homemade leggings as madness before now (as you can buy them so cheaply in h&M) but like you until I made them my slim legged child never had ankle length leggings.


  6. Very impressed with the stripe match! thanks for all the tips. I will totally have a go on them for my next stripey project. I like lots what you made from the fabric, I mean I can’t blame your daughter for liking leggings and more this ones that are very stylish. Also the shorts and leg warmers…your little daughter looks so cute!.I was having a look on the NOSH webpage and the colours are so lovely, now totally fancying some organic jersey or sweat!!! last but not least, I’m loving the pictures you took of your oldest daughter, you have a model in the way!


    • Thank you for ALL your lovely comments. My daughter impresses me each time I take pictures of her. But don’t be fooled for every nice one there are 5 more where she’s pulling a funny face, standing on her head, moving out of camera shot, has her eyes closed, biting her lip, picking her nose….


  7. Oh, Olu: I just love you 😉 Your writing always is very hilarious, your sewing is just so cool and your photography is very stylish! And you even brought Ted back. Can’t get much better now…
    Btw: I’ve made shorts like these from an Ottobre pattern, too and they took me years. Next time I’ll sew them again with Dana’s Kid Shorts Pattern. 1 hour and they are done! No headache!


    • Thank you so much Annika. I’m blushing right now. Tell me about it with those shorts, shorts should not take that long. Next time I’m going to buy them from H&M. Hee hee, joke! But I am about to check Dana’s pattern, thanks for the tip.


  8. Pingback: Tutorial: Tips for matching stripes – Sewing

  9. Oh Olu, I love everything you made! I still had no time to touch my new fabrics or patterns…I’m looking forward to try one from Ottobre too. You’re so inspiring!


    • Thank you so much Jo, I’m so flattered. There just isn’t enough hours in the day to make all that we have plans for is there? But that won’t stop us trying 😉 I shall look out for your Ottobre make.


  10. absolutely love black & white stripes, and i love everything in this post! I’m obsessed with matching stripes & plaids, it’s such a little win that goes unnoticed to most people that look at what my kids are wearing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh yes, the beautiful-but-skinny-girl-with-super-long-legs leggings dilemma, we know that one well. S got upset when we had to give some fancy turtle leggings away that were bought for her from the US. After two years with tucks sewn at the waist to keep them up, and two years worn as cropped length leggings they still fit around her perfectly. But suddenly she wasn’t comfy – the rise just wasn’t deep enough anymore. Your stripy leggings are gorgeous, maybe we should make some…?!!


  12. Pingback: Simply sweats and shorts |

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