July 25, 2013

Plaid Jacket Chronicles: Finding the Dominant Stripe

With plaid fabrics there comes the additional factor of whether or not your plaid has a dominant stripe and how that can affect the outcome of the garment you are planning. Before we jump into this concept, let's review really quick about what we've covered so far. We know that plaid fabrics can be balanced (even) or unbalanced (uneven) - this, by the way, refers to whether or not the stripes make up perfect squares. You can utilize the fabric test that I showed in my last video to determine whether or not your plaid is balanced or unbalanced. This plays a role in the planning of the garment. Balanced plaids will match up easier both vertically and horizontally. Unbalanced plaids will match up either vertically or horizontally, but not necessarily both. Additionally, balanced plaids can be put either on the bias or on the straight of grain whereas often times with unbalanced plaids, the bias creates a weird effect with the plaid itself not being able to produce perfect chevrons. This of course, does not mean that you can't break any of these rules or ideas, they are just keypoints to keep in mind as you plan.

Now onto how to find the dominant stripe. This can be easy and tricky, again, depending on the plaid fabric you are using. First of all, how do you find the dominant stripe? Fold out your fabric so that you can view a wide area of it and then take a step back. Some say that if you squint at the fabric when you look at it from a distance the dominant stripe will jump out at you. Usually I can see it without squinting, but if that helps you, definitely do it. Let's take a look at a plaid that would have an easily identifiable dominant stripe. The tartan above is pretty easy to identify. Its that white stripe. Kind of crazy how that thin white stripe is the one that jumps out at you first, but its true. That red stripe makes a close second, but still its the white stripe that takes the cake.

Now what about a plaid that has a harder to identify dominant stripe? Let's go back to my recent plaid jacket fabric. This plaid is very interesting because I see both the red and yellow stripes as the dominant. The red has the added white stripe running through it and if you know anything about weaving, you'll know that you have to be careful with yellow because it shows up really well in whatever you use it in. So in this instance, I decided to use both stripes as one dominant stripe.

Now what about in the example of this windowpane plaid? Does this fabric have a dominant stripe? Technically, those white windowpanes are the dominant, yet the scale and proportion of this plaid makes it so that it really doesn't matter. You'll definitely see what I mean in the coming lessons, but in this instance the planning of the garment would be based solely on matching the plaids and not on where the plaids are positioned on the body. The fabric I've chosen to use for my next plaid jacket is also a windowpane plaid. Does it have a dominant stripe or does it matter that it does? I've decided that though the windowpane is dominant and since its a larger windowpane, I'll worry about the placement of the stripes, but not to the same extent that I did on my previous jacket make.

Knowing whether your plaid is balanced or unbalanced and what the dominant stripe is, if there is one will definitely affect how you plan the plaid which I'll go over in upcoming installments of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles. Hopefully this gives you more clarification, rather than confuses the living daylights out of you. These principles aren't really hard to understand, but stacked up against other plaids you'll find the world of sewing plaids a little more complex than it may appear. Just focus on your plaid and apply what I've gone over here to your fabric.

What do you all think about plaid fabrics so far? I think if you just focus on one at a time, you start feeling a little more comfortable with these tricky fabrics. There is so much variety though! Even just doing my own research for these little episodes (or should I say webisodes?) was crazy interesting and kind of.... vast. Lots and lots of plaids out there.

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