Pattern Perfect

Hello All,

I recently received a message from a reader concerning pattern matching and curtain headings. This I feel is a valid point and one worth investigating. Thank you in advance to Jane Fiddian of Fiddian Interiors for inspiring this blog

Hope you enjoy the read…….

Pattern Perfect

When selecting a fabric many things are taken into consideration.

  • Colour
  • Coordination
  • Texture
  • Drape
  • Suitability
  • Pattern

Pattern is only one of the many choices made when selecting a fabric. Whether that be for curtains, cushions, bedspreads, blinds, pelmets or headboards.


The English Curtain Company

When a pattern is picked THINK!

If working with Goblet Pleats for example will the pattern land on the goblets ?                                   Can the heading be altered so that the pattern will fit on the goblets ?

This needs to be worked out BEFORE the fabric is confirmed.

The pattern spacings need to be measured width ways and married up to the pleats mathematically. It can be fiddly but you should be aware before you proceed, even before fabric is ordered. Most fabric companies are very accommodating in providing the necessary information for you to work this out.


A client should be aware if the pattern cannot be married up with the pleats, pinch, goblet, box, whatever the heading. This will fundamentally effect the look of the end product.


If a pattern match on a heading is not achievable (as sometimes is the case) there are alternative options available.


Here the button nicely draws your eye away from the fact that, the same part of the pattern cannot land on the goblet every time.


♦A contrast top border eliminates the problem and can enhance a design. Even though you can’t see it in this photo clearly, I lined the pattern up on the blind with the curtains. These little details are the reasons why people go to interior designers.

♦You or your client can just simply live with the random landing of the pattern or change the fabric.

♦Sometimes you can set the pattern down so that the most distinctive section is below the pleat level,     therefore drawing your eye away from the random section of pattern that lands on the pleat. (In the same way the buttons above does)



This Harlequin fabric is beautiful, but things must be considered before it is selected. It has an off set pattern which needs considering. (The pattern is different on the left selvedge than the right)

♦Can it be lined up ? (By trimming the fabric)

♦Which part of the pattern do you want at the top, or central in the case of a pelmet.

♦Do we centralise the pattern on romans in a bay or does the pattern follow on from blind to blind?

10580161_922334231150883_2620173325494605798_nLJ curtains

This pattern is centralised so therefore is less of an issue.

Pelmets and Blinds can be tricky items

Thimbles and Threads

Excellently executed pelmet to blind pattern by Thimbles & Threads

Consider the following with a patterned fabric

  • Position of pattern at top (the section always on view with a blind).
  • How much you see of the pattern on the depth of the pelmet or on the top panel when a blind is open.
  • Where the stitching hits the pattern (on a blind)
  • What section of the pattern hits the sides and is cut off.
  • On a pelmet, bay or row of blinds do you centralise the pattern on the blind, on the width.
  • On a pelmet, bay or row of blinds does the pattern continue from one blind onto the next.
  • Does the continuation of the pattern effect the position of the joins on the blind(s) or pelmet(s).

I know it is mind boggling what a designer thinks of before and whilst designing an item for a client. They are questions that become a natural mental check list after a while.


Once you have decided and are happy with the pattern position. You then need to consider how other items may be effected.

I prefer to follow a pattern on from a pelmet. I also like to have continuation on position of pattern as previously shown.


Harlequin Fabric

When you follow a pattern on from the pelmet to a blind be aware that, depending on how tall you are there is a slight fluctuation of the pattern lining up. Realistically you can only line it up with a direct eye level, then live with the variance. I also do the same with curtains under pelmets where the same pattern is used.

You must remember to factor in the depth of the pelmet, track, spacers etc, when making your calculations on where to start the pattern on the top of the blind or curtains. This way the correct part of the pattern appears at the right point past the base of the pelmet.


Stripes are a lovely, eye-catching defined pattern. Positioning needs to still be considered. Or can you turn the fabric ?

Standard roman with pelmet

Prestigious Fabric

There is also the interesting situation of lining the pattern up on a cascade Roman blind. It is fantastic when a designer / manufacturer, takes the additional time to marry the pattern up when the blind is in the up position. This is the sign of a true crafts person.

Jules Austin-Leppington The English Rooms.

Perfect example of a pattern matched, cascade blind by Jules Austin-Leppington at English Rooms Interiors in Stone, Cheshire, England.

Pattern Run Out

For those that do not know. When a pattern runs out it means it is not positioned squarely on the cloth. Sometimes you can see it straight away and sometimes a run out only becomes apparent when you start to make the item required. Some subtle run outs can be adjusted so you do not notice them. However some cannot be hidden. It is at this point you contact your client, and make them aware of the problem and how this will effect the look of the product. In some cases the manufacturer of the fabric needs contacting to be made aware of the problem. Discussions can then occur on how it can be resolved. New Fabric? Extra Fabric?

When a check pattern runs out it is always obvious! Pre-emption of this fact can be dealt with when selecting a check. I would recommend making the client aware of the potential issues.


Found on Pintrest

This is a great use of a pattern to create the shape of the pelmet. I have seen and created this effect quite a number of times. It always looks amazing.


The final point I would like to make is that all the above is a pointless exercise if your JOINS are bad. This is where a skilled seamstress / upholsterer comes into their own. The idea is to match up the pattern on the edges of the cloth in such a way, that when sewn, the item assembled comes as close as it can be to “SEAMLESS”. 

I will with my lovely friends at BITA Trade Forum on Facebook demonstrate this through a gallery of examples.


Charl Oberholster on Facebook

Embroideries cause an added problem when pattern matching. Some are hand loomed, therefore the pattern is not a perfect match. With some embroideries the pattern goes into the selvedge, giving you nothing to sew with. At this point you can sometimes move in a repeat on the width, but you can lose a lot of fabric and need to order extra. These designers have done a great job with hard fabrics. Jane Churchil fabric



Curtains Bespoke Ipswich. On Facebook

Upholstery comes with a whole host of issues depending on shape and style. Pulling the fabric over the item and buttoning can distort the pattern making it hard to match up. Then you have all the component parts to marry up. This is before the pattern is right way up at one point then changes direction as it moves across the item!! A good upholsterer takes all this into consideration, before calculating the cloth and starting the job.

upholstery done in Harlyn curtain Fabric in Beige [Curtains & Fabx] --- Email

Upholstery done in Harlyn curtain Fabric in Beige Email

I love it when a designer makes sure this happens in the middle of a curtain on the leading edges.



Pleats and joins looking great here.


Thank you to all who have contributed to this blog edition. Great work by wonderful people, showing the art of pattern matching is alive and well. In some of the photos you struggle to even see the join! 

My hat is off to you all in our trade.

If you want to learn more about “pleating by design” go to where you will find Clive Pennington. Britain’s leading authority on this craft and its process.

Keep up the good work.

Till next time


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