At all Angles: Using Stripes to Add Visual Interest to a Garment

Hello Sewcialists! I’m Sarah, certified stripe addict and blogger over at Sewing with Sarah (IG: @sewingwithsarah). I’m excited to be here today sharing my love of stripes!

I’m a pretty big fan of stripes for daily wear- if you take a peek in my closet (or my stash!), you’ll notice about 60% of the tops and tees are made from striped fabric (the other 38% are florals, and 2% feature stripes and florals!) They add interest to an outfit without being too loud, and lend a classic, chic vibe to everything from office appropriate trousers to cut-off jeans.

If you take a gander down the fabric aisle (virtual or otherwise), you’ll notice that most stripes are printed/woven so they run from selvedge to selvedge, meaning they will usually go across your body when worn. While I love the classic look of a Breton tee as much as the next girl, sometimes it’s fun to mix it up, and play with the angles a bit.

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Alternating the direction of the stripes can enhance your body shape, highlight design lines, and add visual interest to a garment. I’ve gotten into vests in a big way this year, so when I saw a lightweight quilted coating fabric in one of my favorite stores, I decided to use the stripes created by the quilting lines to have some fun with my new vest! (Don’t want to buy pre-quilted fabric? You can easily make your own with a little polyester batting and two fabrics of your choice!)

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I’m using the Love Notions Oakley vest here (see my full review of the pattern on my blog), which features princess seams at the sides of the front and back, and plenty of opportunities for me to use my fabric to its fullest potential. The more seams your pattern has (or that you create!), the more the opportunity to you have to play with the angles.

In this case, I decided to chevron my stripes at front, and have them run horizontally across the princess seams and back.

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To do this, I simply drew in new grain lines on the front pieces that were to be cut on the bias, and lined up the new grain line with the stitch lines on my fabric. I was careful to mirror the fronts exactly, so the pieces would line up when zipped- there’s nothing more annoying that mis-matched stripes, especially since these would be front and center!

Note: My fabric was very stable, so I didn’t have to worry about the bias cut fabric shifting out of shape, but if your fabric is a looser weave, you may need to stay stitch the edges before sewing your seams, to ensure that the bias pieces don’t decide to misbehave. For more details on creating matching chevrons, see this post. 

The side panels of this vest are subtly curved to hug the body, so while it wasn’t possible to completely match them with the front seams, I did lay the pieces next to each other before I cut, to ensure that I would be able to match as many lines as possible in the front and across the side and back. This made the cutting phase longer, but it was worth it in the end, to see all those lovely lines!

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Keeping the stripes matched up while I was sewing was my next challenge. I’ve found that a little wonder tape and a basting stitch goes a long way in keeping things lined up while I sew or serge- don’t forget to take into account those seam allowances! Once I had everything cut out and basted together, my vest was completed fairly quickly!

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I finished it off with some twill tape along the neck edge, to hide the seam there, and was lucky enough to find a perfectly matching zipper and bias tape!

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Now I have the perfect me-made cozy layer to help keep me cozy and warm through the dregs of winter!

If you’d like to follow along with my other sewing adventures (which so often feature stripes!), you can find me over on my blog at Sewing with Sarah, or on Instagram: @sewingwithsarah.

I can’t wait to see what everyone creates with their stripes this month- I’m hoping to whip out a couple more striped tees myself. Once can never have too many stripes, am I right?

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Happy Sewing!