Sewing With Striped Fabrics: Symmetry and Balance

Hi Everyone! In Part 3 we continue with our look at Sewing with Striped Fabrics by taking a closer look at symmetry and balance. Donna Kinley is joining us to share her insight on this important element of design while she shows us several examples of how to get it right. 

In this video, we will take a look at some of the things to consider when creating a project using striped fabric. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, thinking about the placement of your pattern pieces on the stripes before you cut into the fabric. Follow along as we look at:

  • The symmetry of the stripe. Is it balanced or unbalanced? 
  • Placing your pattern on the stripe for optimal design impact.
  • Comparing a stripe to a directional print. 
  • Working with the stripe "repeat."
  • Determining the proper grain for a woven and printed stripe fabric.
  • Playing with stripes, placing pockets and other pieces for dramatic effect.

As you can see, choosing a striped fabric for your next project opens up so many opportunities to create something unique! You can take a basic pattern design and really add your own personality or twist to the overall look just by using a striped fabric and adding a bit of creative stripe placement. 

Here are several examples of "Playing With Stripes"

The Mitered Maxi Skirt is designed with stripes in mind. The grainlines on the pattern pieces are positioned to line up with the stripe to create the mitered effect. The waistband is cut with the stripes going horizontally across the waist for additional contrast. This pattern is designed for knit fabric and can work with a variety of stripe widths as well as a balanced or unbalanced stripe. Easy-Peasy!


The Energy Dress (shown in the video) showcases stripes on the sleeves and the skirt. Choose your fabric and have fun with the placement or direction of the stripe. Pay special attention to the pattern repeat or direction of the stripe pattern; you may need to flip the fabric in the opposite direction to get things to line up properly. Go even further mixing in the coordinating E=dk2 pattern design too! This pattern is designed to work with a woven fabric and a narrower stripe, 3/8" width or less.


The Swimsuit Cover-Up featured in our free tutorial is a simple project but has maximum effect because of the striped fabrics used in the design. By choosing to place the pattern pieces vertically and horizontally, the design elements really pop! The tiny pocket isn't lost because it has been cut with the stripes going in the opposite direction of the dress front. This design works best with a knit fabric and a variety of stripe widths. The example is a 3/8" width balanced stripe.


The Versatility Dress is a darling design to begin with, and Karen has taken it to the next level with her Playing with Stripes pattern hack! This is a great example of the thought process involved in using stripes to highlight the design lines of the garment. By placing the bodice side pieces on a different direction than the center front, the princess seam element really stands out! The added band around the bottom of the skirt really brings it all together! The pattern can be sewn in a knit or a woven fabric; but for this type of project, I'd recommend a woven stripe! 

Neckline Impact! Striped fabrics provide an opportunity for maximum impact when you place the neck-binding or sleeve bindings on the diagonal or opposite direction from the main body. These examples pictured below demonstrate this on a variety of different pattern designs including the t-shirt variations, v-neck tee, and the All Girls on Deck top.


Now it's your turn! We challenge you to choose a striped fabric and create some impact with your next design project. Maybe it's a simple swimsuit coverup, a basic tee, or a new dress; the choice is yours! Be sure to share your project with us in the SWC FB group or add them to the Pixie Faire Inspiration gallery for all to see!


Donna Kinley
Donna Kinley

June 23, 2021

Carol – The last dress shown is just a basic sheath style dress to which I added the various accent strips of fabric with the stripe going the opposite way. That fabric was actually a diagonal printed stripe which made playing with it even more interesting.


June 23, 2021

Is there a pattern for the last dress shown on the video? I didn’t recognize it.

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