The job of a textile designer is so fascinating – ideating and creating beautiful prints and patterns on fabrics all day long. After all Textile design is the art of designing those prints and patterns on fabrics. A textile designer creates patterns keeping in mind current trends, style specifications, motifs, their own drawings, colours as well as the technical and ethical and cultural considerations and then communicate it via the medium of textiles.
But how do they arrange these patterns?. It is the Innovative and creative way of arranging the prints and patterns that form the crux of textile design. How do they get it right everytime? Are they randomly placed or are they the result of deliberate planning? As a layman How can I decipher these prints and patterns in a language I can understand. These are all questions that came to me when I was writing about the different kinds of ( about 80+) fabric patterns.
First and foremost there are many industry standards that these patterns should adhere to. Then there are considerations like the use of the fabric (whether it is apparel fabric, furnishing textile etc) and type of the fabric itself ( whether it is woven or knitted etc). Then finally comes the task of arranging the motifs.
In all patterns and prints on textile, you will find there is a repeat – ie the identical or dissimilar motifs are arranged with horizontal or vertical distance between them in a repeated manner. There are infinite ways of arranging these repeats on the fabric – but some basic layouts are commonly used individually or collectively to form the patterns that you see on fabrics
25 classifications of patterns in textile designs according to the arrangement of motifs in the pattern
(other names are Basic repeat, Full drop repeat, Square Repeat, Straight-across repeat, straight repeat)
In this type of repeat, the motifs are placed directly on a horizontal line to the left or right of the original motif. ie they are laid up and down and/or side to side. It is the most simple layout; when complete it looks as if the motifs are stacked in an imaginary grid
(Other names random layout or irregular pattern layout)
This pattern has motifs/elements/threads which overlap – this results in a different colour than the original where they intersect. You can find this on tartan patterns
This is a layout in which the motifs are placed close together
This is a layout in which you will not find any symmetry in the placement of motifs or the motifs themselves – no rhyme or reason why they are arranged the way they are but can be as equally captivating as any carefully planned motif placements
This is not a repeat as such but this is a kind of placement of fabric pattern such that a strong motif or design is formed and it is usually the highlight of the clothing.
Fabric Designers do not consider these layouts in isolation – they are most of the time overlapped – a single pattern can have many of these elements in it.
Now that I know some of these names and where they are used, next time some one asks me what pattern I have made with my sewing or painting I suppose I will sprout high jargon like “This is a Two directional turnover layout with foulard pattern” or such. Hope you will too.
Must reads if you really want to learn more on fabric design :
Repeat Patterns: a manual for designers, artists and architects, by Peter Phillips and Gillian Bunce.
Pattern Design By Lewis F. Day.