Textiles and patterns: Inspiration for textile designs and fabric patterns
We offer a very simple process. You design your own patterns and we print the pattern for you on your choice of material. But let’s stop for a second and look at the entire procedure in more detail.
Fabric patterns aren’t just a pattern that have appeared out of nowhere. The pattern has been around for thousands of years. Yes, patterns have been around for about as long as we have been printing on fabric. And the entire process is so fascinating.
In fact, we’re going to examine a simple pattern in detail. We're going to explore their invention, and why designing a pattern is of such legitimate interest – and so historic. Let’s discuss this in more detail…
What are fabric patterns?
They consist of one or more symbols or a repeat pattern. This pattern covers a surface of material in a relatively structured manner. The repetition is either regular or irregular, depending on the individual pattern.
Human beings love patterns. So when we invented fabrics centuries ago, we created patterns to put onto these materials. Of course, we design the pattern to suit what intend to use the material for.
However, in the 21st century, we’re far more adventurous than we used to be with patterns for fabric. You can print a pattern on material for décor items, fashion garments, baby blankets, marketing purposes – you name it.
Sometimes people will use the same pattern to print on various items. It’s a matter of personal choice.
Pattern design is a creative process, and those who succeed in this pattern design industry are extremely creative and versatile. The pattern itself may vary. In fact, there are thousands of pattern choices. And let's not forget the 15,300+ exceptional, exclusive pattern choices featured in maake’s very own Design Library.
But we can divide all these patterns into just 5 types. The 5 distinct types of pattern are: asymmetric, geometric, irregular, organic, regular and symmetric.
The history of patterns on textiles
- Art on fabric is one of the oldest types of art in human civilisation. It all started way back in 5000 BCE, in Neolithic times, in countries like India and China.
- Initially, a pattern was printed onto fabrics using woodblock printing. Later, screen printing became popular to print pattern on material all over Asia, Europe and India.
- 2,000 years later the Chinese produced a variety of fabric out of silk, cotton and hemp. They used the material to make clothing and shoes, and often printed a monochrome pattern or design onto the material.
- The oldest known pattern for material is herringbone. Before people used this pattern on a textile, way back in 580BE, the Romans created their road systems from the herringbone pattern.
- Other early motifs found on materials include checked and striped pattern. In fact, checked material is one of the world’s most popular fabric patterns.
Printing patterns on fabric in the UK
Of course, because printing is our business, maake is very keen to share the history of fabric printing and printing a pattern on fabric with you.
We’ve already created a blog discussing the different material printing methods available, as well as information about digitally printing a pattern on fabric. But here you can view details of how people started printing a pattern on material in the UK:
- The very first printing works in England was established in 1676 by a French refugee.
- Until the beginning of the 19th century, the English used to order printed cotton material from the East India Company. They used to deliver the fabric to us by ship. We preferred particular patterns to use on fabric. At that time, each pattern was not as intricate as traditional Indian patterns.
- Until the 20th century, the block printing method was used to print a pattern on material, with up to 6 rollers, each with a different colour dye.
- In the 1900s, silk-screen printing was the most popular method for printing a pattern on fabric. This print process made it possible to print larger amounts of material much faster.
- These days, we use digital printing to print a pattern digitally onto fabric. At maakewe have perfected this print process so that we can offer our customers the most sustainable printing possible. Our print methods use little or no water and much less energy to print on both natural and synthetic materials.
Different types of pattern prints
There are basically 2 categories of patterns – the geometric pattern and the organic pattern. Let’s take a look at each pattern in detail:
One forms a geometric pattern by placing different graphic elements together. These elements are evenly spaced and repetitive.
The more creative we want to be, the more likely we are to space the geometric pattern elements further apart or closer together. We may also add some interest, movement and personality to the design by rotating the elements instead of repeating them in a particular way.
There are so many different ways you can combine geometric designs to make a pattern. For instance, stripes are classic geometric patterns. We make these stripes by placing a graphic element in a line.
If we make the lines intersect, we design a checked pattern. We could place them diagonally and create another line, or even a zigzag pattern… the possibilities are endless.
This pattern is inspired by nature and falls into 2 distinct types: a realistic motif which is a repetitive image of natural objects, and stylised designs, which are very simple repetitions of a natural object.
A floral pattern is a perfect example of an organic pattern and is extremely popular. Simply by changing the colour of the floral objects and their size, you can create a number of very interesting designs to print on fabric.
Organic designs can be realistic, so that they resemble exactly what a flower looks like, for example. They could also be abstract, classic or modern. A vintage floral pattern is always popular, classic and fresh at the same time.
Combining different pattern textiles
Mix and match designs on material to create an interesting, unique design collection. There are no rules – as long as the pattern selection is cohesive in some way (perhaps by using particular colours) so that it has a brand identity.
To do this, you need to have one element that runs through every single pattern or design, whether it’s a colour scheme, or a particular pattern type, like stripes, or squares.
Inspiration for material design
There are so many different types of designs, but we’ve put together a pattern library comprising 17 to inspire you before you start creating your own pattern. View each pattern here:
Unusual, unique, unrecognisable lines and shapes – that sums up an abstract design in a nutshell.
This design is usually soft and blurry, subtle and very distinctive. When you look at the overall effect, you can see that someone created the pattern using a spray gun. For example, Andy Warhol was a master at airbrushing.
These can be cute bunnies, or tropical tigers, depending on your creation and the look you’re after. These usually follow quite a set format, but can vary from scary to cute, and everything in between.
Is made of diamonds. We place these diagonally and alternate them in a particular colour scheme.
· Art Deco
Typically used in the 1920s and ‘30s, this pattern is precise, clear and and uses a lot of geometric shapes. Often used for decorating.
· Art Nouveau
Extremely popular from the late 19th century through to the First World War, this pattern is flowing, curvy and often floral with plenty of depth and lots of personality.
The colour combination in this Indonesian-style design features natural pictures like birds and flowers. These graphics look as if someone dyed them with wax.
Often called ‘boho’ or ‘hippie’, the Bohemian pattern is reminiscent of the swinging ‘60s. It usually includes vivid colours.
Features a brightly coloured all-over floral pattern, often associated with Indian culture.
These designs have been popular time and again. Camo designs are curved; we design them so that they blend into the environment, like camouflage.
The check pattern is extremely versatile and a sought-after choice. Whether you’re trying to achieve a checkerboard design, in monochrome, or in colour, or use checks to design your very own unique pattern, you’re not alone.
A Chinese-style print, often featuring something distinctively Chinese, like blossoms, boats, stars, architecture, etc.
This all-over pattern has a small print, or polka dot, circle, or a zigzag pattern. We place all these pictures randomly.
All-over design featuring woven checks or blocks created by overlapping a stripe or checks that are all the same width.
This Indian-inspired design is made up of colourful stripes, checks or tartans that cross over each other to form an uneven design or pattern. Usually printed on lightweight cotton material.
Plaid designs are those that include tartan and checks. A plaid pattern has horizontal and vertical stripes in two or more shades. We can determine the kind of plaid by how often the pattern repeats itself.
Distinct in their style and usually in their culture as well, African or tribal s are often in vivid, vibrant colours.
Creativity certainly plays a huge part in designing a material pattern that will stand out from the crowd.
To do this, designers will often use a variety of graphic objects and elements together in a particular form, colour or composition to create a specific effect. We call this complex pattern an ‘all-over pattern’.
Because of its intricacy, this fabric pattern draws attention and interest. By not following any uniformity, the pattern immediately attracts the eye. Creative pattern makers enjoy the fun of forming unusual pattern combinations that stand out from the crowd.
Design ideas for business sewing
We’re not going to go into a lot of detail here, but we want to show you that you can use a fabric design or pattern to communicate with your particular audience. You see, businesses often use a pattern and design in a selected colourway to design specific designs to give their brand a unique identity.
Like colour, a pattern consists of various messages. This is because the way we arrange the lines and/or colours together and how we duplicate them can denote a particular feeling or emotion.
Also, if a brand constantly uses these designs, they eventually become synonymous with the brand. This is because we duplicate them so often.
These designs should be subtle. We use subtle messages skilfully to evoke certain emotions. They also give a brand or product a distinct personality.
Make your brand stand out
· Everyone wants to give an excellent first impression. By using a specific pattern, your brand is able to use the pattern to create a unique identity.
· The pattern enables you to connect with your customer. You see, the customer easily identifies with the pattern and sees it as part of your brand message.
· The more unique and interesting the pattern, the more the customer will like it.
· You could even use your company logo to design a unique pattern that identifies your products.
Know your stripes
A design prints differently, depending on the material used and its colour. This is very important to consider when you choose to print a design you’re sewing on fabric. At maake, we list in detail the kind of fabric, whether it’s natural or synthetic, the percentage of a blend of fibres, and the colour of the base fabric.
We also tell you how the material will look once we have printed on it. For instance, if it has texture, the texture could cause tiny imperfections. We often use these 'flaws' to design a unique pattern or look on a material (e.g. in linen).
Or perhaps the fabric has a white base and is matte on the underside; in that case it will print differently from a material that is glossy on both sides.
Of course, choosing a material is important depending on the product you’re making, so you also need to take this into account when you choose fabric.
Make sure you choose a suitable material that drapes, if it’s for a garment, or is sturdy and holds its shape, if it’s for a chair cushion, for instance.
And if the material is stretchy, you need to consider this when you design a pattern, as the pattern will stretch with the fabric.
10 different materials to add to your list
We’ve chosen just 10 textiles out of over 100, to give you an idea of what’s available and what to use each material for. Include some of these in your basket, or use duration resets on updates:
1. Natural cotton
Cotton fabric has a tight weave. It is available in 2 colours – natural or cream and white. Choose the material according to the pattern you create so that when you print, the colour will be vibrant and clear. Cotton is extremely versatile. We use it for a variety of different products, from table ware and bed linen to clothing, curtains and cushions. Choose the weight of the material to suit the product you’re sewing and the pattern you intend to use in proportion to the product you’re making.
Some of the natural cotton maake fabrics that we recommend for printing a pattern on:
- Cotton Denim: Solid, 100% cotton fabric that is sturdy and ideal for clothing, bags, accessories, cushions and crafts.
- Organic Calico Natural: 100% GOTS unbleached cotton fabric, perfect to use for crafts, quilting and homeware accessories/soft furnishings.
- Organic Panama Natural: Organic, unbleached 100% cotton fabric, GOTS-certified and hard-wearing. Ideal for bags, cushions and curtains.
- Organic Poplin: 100% GOTS cotton organic poplin, great for clothing, bedding and crafts.
We mentioned linen earlier, and this natural woven material is another popular choice. It's important to remember that linen creases easily. Our linen fabrics are a blend of cotton and linen and feature a slub texture that creates a unique, textured effect. These materials are ideal for clothing, home wear, light decor accessories, so include some with your storage details.
For more information on printing on linen fabric, read our fascinating blog.
maake’s linen selection:
- Limani Linen: 90% cotton and 10% linen mediumweight material with a natural, tactile slub texture. Perfect for jackets, homeware and light decor accessories.
- Melino Linen:93% cotton and 7% linen fabric that is extremely lightweight. A popular choice for curtains, tea towels, homeware and accessories.
We knit these fabrics – we do not weave them. They are available in a variety of blends, including natural wool and silk as well as many synthetic fabrics. Depending on how heavy and thick they are, we use the fabrics for all sorts of products. These include clothing like sweatshirts, interior décor items, even swimwear and activewear.
Our knit choices to print a pattern on:
- Eco Sprint Knit: Sustainable 100% Recycled polyester (rPET) sports jersey, ideal for clothing and accessories.
- Organic Lily Jersey: This organic jersey material is made of GOTS organic yarns – 93% cotton and 7% elastane. It’s mediumweight with a four-way stretch, making it perfect for leggings, T-shirts and kids clothing.
- Poppy Lycra Jersey: A mediumweight cotton lycra jersey comprising 89% cotton and 11% elastane. It’s smooth-textured and soft, perfect for leggings, T-shirts and childrens clothes.
We make these fabrics from natural fabrics like silk, wool and cotton, or synthetic materials including 100% polyester. This sort of fabric is perfect for both home décor and clothing.
Print a patteron on one of these recommendations:
- Eco Velvet: 100% Recycled polyester (rPET) fabric, ultra soft and popular for cushions, fashion clothing, soft furnishings and curtains.
- Palatine Velvet FR: This heavyweight 100% polyester fabric boasts a luxurious pile. Ideal for chairs, couches and soft furnishings as it’s certified FR (flame-resistant).
- Velvet: Matte 100% polyester fabric with a slight stretch. Used for fashion clothing, cushions, curtains and décor accessories.
5. Stretch material
With elastane (or lycra or spandex) included in the blend, this kind of material stretches in every direction and returns to its former shape. Usually chosen for sewing sportswear and activewear. Want to know All about sewing stretch fabric? Read here!
- Stretch Jersey: Made of a blend of polyester and elastane, this stretchy fabric is very soft, making it ideal for dresses, leggings, T-shirts and kids clothing.
- Stretch Lycra French Terry: Perfect for items that require a bit of stretch, this 90% cotton and 10% elastane fabric is also lightweight. Used for hoodies, sweaters, sweatpants and hoodies for both adults and kids.
- Stretch Poplin: 97% cotton and 3% elastane fabric with a slight stretch. Its versatility makes it ideal for a wide range of products including dresses, light outerwear and shirts.
Made from either cotton, polyester or a blend of both, this versatile sturdy fabric is ideal for sewing outerwear (jackets, raincoats, etc). It’s an extremely popular fabric.
- Organic Poplin: 100% GOTS cotton organic fabric, perfect for bedding, a wide range of clothes and handicrafts.
- Poplin: 100% cotton fabric that, like its organic partner, is lightweight and ideal for bedding, clothes and crafts.
7. Oxford material
This loosely constructed woven material is ideal for sewing shirts and blouses. We initially made it out of cotton, but now we blend it with various synthetic materials such as rayon or polyester to make it hold its shape better and crease less.
8. Fleece knit
A warm, cuddly knitted fabric either made from 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and other fibres such as wool or polyester. It's perfect for sewing lining winter jackets, blankets, sweaters and activewear.
Eco Fleece: This warm, soft material is made from 100% Recycled polyester (rPET). Great for sewing blankets, cushions, garments, pet beds and more.
We originally created lawn from 100% linen, but now we usually make it from cotton. We often use this light, durable material to make babies’ clothes, handkerchiefs, summer dresses and home accessories.
A woven material is usually produced from cotton, although sometimes made using rayon or acrylic. Extremely hard-wearing and often used for sewing homewear items like curtains and cushions.
- Bayeux Upholstery: Heavyweight 100% polyester chenille fabric with a crushed high shine. A luxury choice for a curtain or light furnishings.
It’s time to earn your stripes!
For some inspiration, search through our Design Library with over 15000 images of patterns.