Checks, stripes, floral prints, geometric prints, paisley, jacquard, tartan, gingham, animal prints. There are so many different types of fabric patterns and prints in so many designs and colours. You can find most of the fabric patterns here in the post with sample pictures for identification.
Some prints are used in garments as border designs, some as the focal motif /placement print, some in a random repeat. Know more about the way prints are placed as per fabric design principles here. Prints and patterns can produce a stunning effect on clothes and accessories when they are well placed and cut the correct way.
Mixing and matching these prints and using them in their creations is one of the greatest joys of a fashion designer or dressmaker. And also one of the greatest frustrations as well. Because it is no child’s play to cut fabric accurately so that all the seams have matched prints.
How to cut printed fabric
When you cut fabric pattern pieces from a printed and patterned fabric the intention should be to get seam joints that seem as if it is a continuity of the other pieces. ie. The lines and checks and even the patterns are preferably matched along the seams in a seamless fashion.
Care should be taken that the geometric prints, stripes and checks are cut straight as per the lines in them. This should be maintained even when stitching seams and openings
Tip 1. Choose an appropriate pattern for sewing
Ensure that prints are paired with the right type of pattern.
One important tip in working with prints is to keep the pattern of your garment simple with fewer seam lines than you would use with a plain fabric.
More seam lines mean more patterns you will have to match. It can get really complicated. Especially when you are sewing zippers etc a slight deviation in your stitching line can make your near perfect stitching look wonky
Tip 2 Know the body shape and appropriate placement of prints.
Knowing your body and which features need to be emphasized more with strategic placement of the prints – this is one area you should be studying first and foremost. Learn which body shape you are, first. Then decide where you want the print to be placed.
You should also be aware of where the prints will be placed on the pattern. Otherwise, it will turn out inappropriate and even awkward.
Generally, the whole idea is, the prints bring the eyes to where it is placed. So when you want to de-emphasize a feature you restrain from placing any print there and when you want to bring attention to a feature you place a print there.
If you have a placement print ie an oversized or special motif which forms the focal point of the garment you will need to know where it is placed which will enhance the features you want to highlight.
For eg, if you have a big bust and you want to downplay it, you may not want to bring the viewer’s eye there with a placement print or oversized print or even a border design there.
If you want to make your body seem taller stripes are not placed across the body. This will shorten the body, making it look stocky. Vertical lines down the body will make you seem taller. So the stripes will be placed down the body as you cut the fabric (of course you will have to take into consideration the grainline of the garment which is why having a knowledge of pattern placement even before you buy that fabric with crosswise stripes is important.)
Border prints can be placed vertically or horizontally on the body. They are used on the hem, on sleeve cuffs, on the waist , across the bust, on the shoulder seam, as a faux empire waistline, to cut collars.
Tip 3 Symmetry in the placement of prints
Symmetry is very important in the placement of prints on the garment (unless you want the unsymmetrical look). On both sides of the centre front of the garment, the patterns should appear in a symmetrical manner. The same symmetry should be maintained in cutting patterns for sleeves, collars, pockets etc.
Generally, when you buy printed fabrics you may have to buy 25% extra if you want to match prints on seam joints. Maybe more if you have oversized prints.
Tip 4 Mixing prints in the same garment
Other than using a single print sometimes designers mix prints and patterns. Prints can look very busy on their own and this can be relieved by mixing it with other prints; the patterns can be made fresh looking and novel by mixing with checks or stripes.
But beware that not too many colours are mixed together when you do this. Taking a colour from the print and pairing it with a stripe or check in that colour works for a cohesion in the design of the garment.
The first consideration if you are mixing prints and patterns is that they mix well together. They should look graceful together rather than jarring.