Sewing With Striped Fabrics: Topic Overview

Hi Everyone! Welcome to the topic of Sewing With Striped Fabrics! Incorporating stripes into your designs can be both interesting and challenging. There are many types of striped fabrics and many ways to use them in your garments. Over the course of this topic we will take an in-depth look at the different types, the proper scale, how to successfully cut out pattern pieces, and how to sew them with everything lined up! I am joined by both Shari and Donna for this topic too! Let's jump on in and take a closer look at sewing with striped fabrics together!

Note: If you're looking for the June coupon codes, be sure to check the Sewing With Cinnamon Bonuses page!

The topic will be broken into these installments:

  • Part One: The Topic Overview  with an in-depth look at striped fabrics
  • Part Two: How to Cut, sew, and determine the scale of your striped fabrics.
  • Part Three: Looking at the symmetry of stripes, balanced vs. unbalanced, keeping things on grain, and placing accent pieces like pockets.
  • Part Four: Fun with stripes! Pleating on the stripe and creating a sun ray pleated design.

Stripes are a fun and interesting way to express your personal style in modern fashion, but stripes have a very interesting history too! I was fascinated to learn the backstory on striped fabrics and how they've evolved through out the years. Shari is joining us with an in-depth look at the origin of striped fabric and all the many types of stripes that we have to choose from.

The History and Origin of Striped Fabric

Simple yet striking, stripes have been making a statement in textiles since weaving began. In the European Middle Ages, the bold look stripes present took on strong connotations of deviance and abasement. Servants and court jesters, madmen and criminals, were required to wear striped clothing as a means to mark them as debase and immoral deviants of society. During the Italian Renaissance, rebellious young gentlemen took to wearing stripes as a daring fashion statement. Alongside their more soberly dressed elders, stripes gave these young men a swaggering and impudent air. Conversely, stripes were a mark of honor when worn in places of heraldry such as combat or tournaments. Striped clothing became popular among sailors because the stripes made it easier to find sailors when they fell overboard. In the 19th century, striped shirts began to be incorporated into naval sailor's uniforms. By the18th century, fashionable ladies and gentlemen visiting the seaside began incorporating the stripes they saw worn by sailors into more fashionable clothing which launched the nautical fashion trend. Although striped cloth never entirely shed its negative connotations with deviance, the nautical fashions trend led to stripes being associated more with the seaside, sporting, and leisure.

There are many classifications of stripes that are determined by the size, arrangement, color, and shape of the stripes. Stripes are usually woven along the warp (vertical threads), but can also be woven in the weft (horizontal threads), knit, or printed to emulate woven stripes.

We will divide them into three main classifications: Balanced Stripes, Unbalanced Stripes, and Fancy Stripes. Then within each classification, there can also be vertical or horizontal designs.

Balanced Stripes

Vertical Stripes: These stripes are woven or knit vertically, but in many
cases the fabric can be turned so the stripes can be presented
horizontally or diagonally. (Special note: Awning, Regency, Bengal and Candy Stripes are all variations of the same design that are differentiated by the width of the stripes.)

  • Awning Stripes/Cabana Stripes -Very wide evenly spaced vertical stripes that are usually a two color pattern that alternates between a bright color and white. Awning Stripes are generally too large for doll clothing, but Regency Stripes are a good alternative for this scale.
  • Regency Stripes – Generally refers to evenly spaced vertical stripes, usually between 1/2” to 1” wide woven in a two color pattern that alternates between light and dark colors, the lighter color usually being white. However, this term also can refer to any Regency Era stripe design that can be a mix of evenly spaced thin and thick lines sometimes mingled with lines of prints in a repeated pattern.
  • Bengal Stripes - Evenly spaced vertical stripes, approximately ¼" wide. Woven in a two color pattern that alternates between light and dark colors, the lighter color usually being white.

  • Candy Stripes - Evenly spaced vertical stripes, approximately 1/8" wide. This style of stripe is usually a two color pattern that alternates between white and another color, however, multiple colors are sometimes used with every other stripe being white.
  • Chalk Stripes – An uneven stripe that resembles a tailor’s chalk line. Originally used to describe a pattern of white or off-white stripes on the dark ground of cloth, the term is now used simply to refer to the size and style of the stripe.
  • Double Stripes/Triple Stripes/etc. - A repeating symmetrical pattern of multiple pinstripes, pencil stripes, or other narrow stripes.

  • Hairline/Mille Stripe – These are fine vertical stripes that look like a solid from a short distance. Hairline Stripes have alternating single threads and Mille Stripes have alternating groups of two or three threads.
  • Pencil Stripes/Dress Stripes –Thin vertical stripes about 1/6” wide. Like Pin Stripes, the width between the stripes is always wider than the stripe.
  • Pin Stripes/Bankers Stripes – Thin vertical stripes woven with one or two threads. The width between the stripes is always wider than the stripe.

  • Railroad/Hickory Stripes –Designed in the late 19th century, this dark blue and white stripe was woven into a heavyweight type of cotton seersucker fabric that was used to make the overalls and other types of work clothing for train engineers and railroad workers. This fabric was durable like denim, but breathable like seersucker.
  • Regimental Stripes – These stripes follow a distinctive pattern and feature classic colors associated with uniforms or heraldry such as red, burgundy, blue, navy, or yellow. This stripe is most commonly used in neck wear and school uniforms, but is also popular to use in some mainstream fashions.
  • Seersucker - A vertically striped fabric, similar to Candy Stripes, in which some of the stripes are designed to pucker as part of the weaving process. Seersucker is a popular summer fabric because it is most often made of cotton, launders easily, needs no ironing, and masks wrinkles.
  • Ticking Stripes – A combination of blue, black, or red vertical stripes in a repeating pattern on a white or off-white background. Originally used for pillow and mattress ticking, the stripe pattern has become popular for Americana style clothing and crafts.


    Horizontal Stripes: These stripes are specifically woven or knit to be used horizontally so are not usually turned unless the design of the clothing requires it.

    • Convict Stripes or Prison Stripes - Extra wide black and white horizontal stripes. The pattern was originally designed in the mid-18th century for prison wear to make escaped prisoners easily identifiable.
    • Rugby Stripes – Wide horizontal stripes, typically worn by rugby players to display team colors, but also used in casual clothing. Stripes are usually white and an alternating color but can also be in two alternating colors.


      Unbalanced Stripes

      Asymmetrically patterned stripes. When turned 180 degrees, the stripe pattern will be in a different order and will not line up.

      • Bayadère Stripes – This is a horizontal stripe pattern of various widths of bright vivid colors. This stripe may or may not have a determined background color. The name is derived from dancing girls in India who wore this type of stripe while performing.
      • Barcode Stripes - Stripes of varying widths on a background color. These stripes can be of a single color or a combination of colors.
      • Breton Stripes - This horizontal stripe can be balanced or unbalanced with two alternating light and dark colors. It was first used in French naval uniforms because the stripes made it easier to distinguish the sailors from the waves when they fell overboard. At the time, the French navy hailed from Brittany, so the shirt was coined the “Breton” shirt. Originally, the shirts displayed 21 stripes – one for each of Napoleon’s victories against the British. Since that time Breton stripes have become a mainstay in nautical fashions.

      • Madras Stripes - These are light multicolored wide stripes of equal or varying widths with no determined background color.
      • Multicolor stripes –A pattern of stripes in multiple colors and widths on a single background color. Similar to the Bayadère Stripe.
      • Roman Stripes - These are bright multicolored stripes of equal or varying widths with no determined background color. Similar to Bayadère Stripes only vertical.


        Fancy Stripes

        Industry jargon for stripe patterns that do not fit into a conventional category.

        • Chevron Stripes – A zigzag stripe pattern. This pattern may include a variety of stripe styles.
        • Herringbone Stripes - The herringbone pattern is made by reversing alternate vertical sections of a twill weave to make a distinctive V-shaped pattern. It is distinguished from chevron by a shift in the stripe at the reversal, which makes it resemble a broken zigzag.
        • Serpentine Stripes - A wavy, undulating stripe pattern. This pattern may include a variety of stripe styles.

        • Ombré Stripes – Stripes that incorporate the effect of a shaded gradient either within the stripe itself or by the arrangement of a group of stripes in different shades.
        • Broken Stripes – A stripe pattern made up of stripes with a discontinuous pattern. Each stripes may be made of lines of small dots, dashes, or other decorative elements.
        • Satin Stripes - A pattern of alternating shiny and matte stripes created by the fabric’s weave.
        • Wallpaper Stripes - A striped fabric that has a pattern printed between or over the top of the stripes. This pattern may include a variety of stripe styles.


        Wow! That's a lot of information! Are you feeling inspired or overwhelmed? Hopefully inspired to take a look at your stash and see how many of these types of stripes you already have on hand. I think you'll be surprised at what you find!




          Gracia L Marks
          Gracia L Marks

          August 06, 2021

          I never realized strips could be beautiful, not just utilitarian. Thanks.

          Lisa A.
          Lisa A.

          June 10, 2021

          Loving these tips on sewing with stripes! I’ve been saving a couple of striped t-shirts and some striped woven fabric just for this class … can’t wait to get started!

          Maria L
          Maria L

          June 06, 2021

          GREAT INFORMATION!!!! didn’t know even 10% of these names. Thanks to the Pixie Faire team


          June 05, 2021

          Wow!! I had know idea there were so many names for all of the stripes!! GREAT information!


          June 03, 2021

          I’ve been calling chalk stripes pin stripes my whole life. This was really informative!


          June 01, 2021

          Thank you, Sheri and Cinnamon for all the great info on striped fabric! You said that “stripes have been making a statement in textiles since weaving began.” Does that mean that there would have been striped fabric during the times of the Bible? And could Joseph’s “coat of many colors” have been striped as we usually see it pictured? Thanks for your response.


          June 01, 2021

          WOW! I knew some stripes had names, yet didn’t know all of them. We all see stripes in our day to day life, mostly not knowing all the differences or names. I will probably see all types of stripes from now on, and secretly smile to myself…knowing what they are called. ( “oh!, there goes a Bengal!” ….“oh…that Regency stripe looks lovely on her…..” ) LOL Stripes are fun!


          June 01, 2021

          The player always says having trouble will fix asap but never is .Will it always be unable to use? Thank you

          Maureen W.
          Maureen W.

          June 01, 2021

          Yikes! ! Who knew there were sew many stripes and how to apply them for patterns. GREAT topic ….thankyou Shari and Cinnamon

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