Matching a Non-Reversible Plaid


When reupholstering a piece of furniture in a plaid, the upholsterer tries to match all the stripes in both directions. However, when working with a non-reversible plaid, this becomes especially challenging. An uneven plaid has the non-reversible horizontal and vertical stripes. This means the plaid stripes won't match at any joints when the fabric has to be put on upside down. Then the challenge begins,"How do you match a plaid when the stripes don't match upside down?" In addition to that, because the upholsterer thinks that all the stripes should match in all directions, he/she may also think that the client expects the stripes to match in all directions. This makes a challenging job a lot more stressfull.

First thing that you have to do is "Get rid of unrealistic expectations!" You can't do what is not possible. You are stressing out over what you expect, but which isn't possible. Perfectionism will stop you every time.

Now, what can you do. I like to do some planning and prep work before I start a challenging job. This would involve thinking out and laying out what can and what can't be done. Once you've done the layout work, and the writing (as described below) you'll have a better idea of what can be done, and how to present it to the decorator.

Yes, you can match the stripes, but not in the way that you would like to. First you have figure out what is possible. On the fabric pick out the most dominant vertical and horizontal stripes. Use them as your center. (sometime you will use a particular stripe as the center, and sometimes you will center between those stripes. Now unroll the fabric enough so that you can fold it to put the upside down edges against one another. Line up your chose dominant stripes and see how they align upside down. Then try moving the alignment one way and the other so see what stripes might look best when matched upside down. Do this on both the vertical and horizontal stripes.

Once you have how the pattern might line up upside own, then I would lay the fabric on the sofa on the various challenging spots, taking pictures as I go. Unroll fabric enough, and fold it, so that you get a semblance of how the inside and outside arms will flow together. What I mean by that is, for example, lay the fabric over the inside arms and then unroll the fabric enough so that you can put a piece of the fabric on the outside arms, pin both in place enough so that you can get some pictures. Do this all over the sofa at each place where two fabrics will come together.

Next, write up a clear description of what you can do and what you can't do with the fabric on the sofa. Perhaps say something like, "Front of sofa and top of cushions will match, but outside arms, etc. won't match." The writing should be specific enough to tell what you can do can't do, but vague  enough so that it will give you some leeway. Once you have it written up, I might have the customer or designer sign it. But even if you don't have her sign it, it will help you to talk more confidently when you talk with the client or designer about what you can and can't do.

Once you have an idea of what is possible, I would call the customer or designer and have her come out to you shop to see the fabric and the sofa. show her the pictures and explain the situation. If necessary or if helpful, lay the fabric on the sofa as you did previously for yourself. Tell her what is possible. Ask what her thoughts are. Work out the details of what the job will be. Write down what the two of you agree upon. Be realistic with her. don't agree to do anything that isn't possible. (The advantage of doing all the prep work explained above is that you'll be better prepared in discussing the job with the designer. You'll also have a better idea of what you can and can't do so (hopefully) you won't get yourself in a bind by promising something that isn't possible.)