Updated on September 6, 2022 by Sarina
Have you seen a favorite pattern in a fabric and struggled to pinpoint its name? Here is a post putting a name to your dilemma. This post lists the names of the most prominent and popular types of prints and patterns on fabric with photos for you to identify them, wherever you go.
When prints go out of fashion I know someone who will stop wearing clothes! Just joking, but the patterns of fabric are a major factor in most of our fabric/clothing purchases.
For the minimalist, who vouches by the solids, with not a whiff of patterns/designs/prints in their clothes, this importance given to patterns and prints may sound ridiculous. But most of us relish the complexities, colors, and designs of different patterns of fabric available today.
These different types of fabric prints and patterns are what attracts us to a fabric shop. They energize, inspire and give us new ideas and make us come up with beautiful creations.
A pattern is a repeating of an element or motif. They are almost as old as humankind.
A fabric may have regular all over pattern or irregular random designs scattered in unmeasured repetition throughout. If interested to know more about how fabric patterns are arranged in repeats checkout the post ” 25 different ways of pattern repeats in fabric design“
General Classification of fabric pattern – names
The motifs you will find in the different types of prints and patterns available are generally classified as
- Geometric motifs (with geometric shapes/ stripes plaids)
- Realistic motifs (imitations or repeats of natural or man-made objects),
- Stylised motifs ( simplified variations of natural or man-made objects)
- Abstract motifs (combinations of colour shape size without relationship to natural or man-made objects)
Fabric pattern fashions come and go. Some patterns are in vogue at some point in time and then they disappear into oblivion, only to reappear again shortly. New patterns or rehashed patterns – interesting patterns are always evident in fashion.To make these prints first the fabric is dyed then the fabric is printed.
Check out the post on the different types of fabric printing techniques used to print these patterns on the fabric – like direct printing resist printing, discharge printing, and digital printing.
I have listed some of the most obvious patterns/prints you will find in fabric below.
Types of prints and patterns on fabric
Abstract artwork is the opposite of the traditional representation of physical objects. These patterns are mostly about forms (lines and shapes) and colors and are very modern – the work in these prints represents ideas than any physical object.
This refers to designs that are closely related to African culture. It is also known as Ankara and also Kitenge. Vibrant patterns and vivid colors are typical of this pattern.
They have mostly tribal and natural motifs and are also known by the name Tribal prints. They are made by the wax resist process known as batik.
This is a blurry soft pattern which looks like you have used the painters spray gun and made the designs.
These types of patterns have skin patterns of different animals, like leopard, snake, crocodile, zebra etc.
Zebra print, Leopard Print ( This pattern has horseshoe-shaped black circles all over) and Cheetah Print (This consists of solid black spots)
Jaguar print (This pattern also has horseshoe shapes but with small dots in different sizes and shapes scattered inside) and Giraffe print.
Basket weave Patterns
This pattern resembles the surface of a woven basket.
This is an elaborately coloured pattern traditionally made by resist dyeing, though nowadays any pattern resembling the result of these techniques are called batik prints.
Natural designs and motifs ( floral designs, birds) geometrical patterns are used in batik patterns.
Read more on Batik fabric here.
Bird’s Eye Pattern
This is usually a pattern formed by a special fabric weave, with 4 small diamond shapes with a dot or space in the center prints -looking like the eye of a bird.
Even without the weave, a pattern resembling this weave is also called the same.
Bull’s Eye Pattern
This pattern consists of concentric circles or oval shapes (concentric circles are circles inside circles with a common center) giving an illusionary feel.
Bohemian fabric Patterns
Bohemian refers to use of bright brilliant colours reminiscent of the hippie movement of the 1960s. (These fabrics are also called boho prints).
You can read more on the different elements that make up a bohemian fashion style here.
Brick network Patterns
This consists of horizontal lines in alternate repeats in a brick laying pattern.
This is a pattern which blends in with the surrounding. It is mostly used by military personnel so that they are not spotted by enemies easily.Black, tan, brown, khaki colours are used mostly
Coin Dot Patterns
Dots are very big, like coins in this pattern
Celtic Knot Patterns
Lines seamlessly form interlocked knots in this pattern
This is a pattern formed by horizontal and vertical stripes that cross each other. To know more in detail check out the post on Checkered pattern : 15 types of checks
Shephered checks patterns ; Argyle check Patterns ; Hound’s tooth check Patterns
Chequered checks patterns; Pin check Patterns; Graph check Patterns
Dupplins checks patterns ; Madras check Patterns ; Mini check Patterns
Glen checks patterns ; Buffalo check Patterns; Gingham Patterns
Windowpane checks patterns ; Tattersall Patterns ; Plaid Patterns
(Learn more about this pattern in the post “What is Plaid” )
This is a pattern with motifs of chinese origin.
A pattern with 4 leaf leaves like that of a clover leaf.
This is an all over small print scattered all over the fabric in a random fashion; ditsy prints are simple lighthearted and usually floral designs.
Dotted swiss Patterns
This is a pattern filled with raised small dots; the fabric is usually thin.
This is an allover classic print with floral motifs.
The print includes a set of shapes or lines organized on the diagonal.
One of a kind Prints/ patterns created by specific designers. They are mostly copyrighted.
This is a print with lots of diamond shapes. A similar one is argyle pattern.
This involves the sort of patterns that cannot be made on fabric by any other means, but on the computer
Fleur De Lis Patterns
This is a pattern with stylised lily flowers
This is a pattern with allover floral motifs.
This pattern has interconnected symmetrical motifs running in an all over pattern. Mostly geometrical motifs are seen in this pattern
Fabric prints and patterns based on pre-existing graphic art.This pattern usually has motifs like stars, circles, triangles and letters of the alphabet
This is a repetitive pattern with geometric shapes like diamonds or interlocking cubes.
These patterns include Hawaain cultural motifs like pineapple fruit, the sea. You usually find these patterns in the Aloha shirts
Hexagonal shapes in an allover network (diaper)
Half Drop Patterns
This is similar to the brick pattern ; the difference being that here it is a vertical pattern
Herringbone pattern has broken zigzag lines; It is somewhat similar to a chevron pattern, though there the zigzag line is continuous.
This is a repeating pattern of contrasting diamonds or elongated squares standing on end as per wikipedia.
This is a pattern which gives the viewer an optical illusion. The motifs are cleverly used towards this effect.
This pattern has designs that are made by a special dyeing process called ikat. Learn more about Ikat patterns and fabric here.
Indian fabric has very unique motifs and patterns that are very authentic to their culture.
Indian Fabric Patterns includes a variety of fabric prints printed in the different states of India. They included colourful Bandhni patterns; Kalamkari Pattern; Patola pattern; Dabu Prints; Pochampilli patterns; Temple prints; Leheriya pattern ; Buti Prints
This is a pattern which resembles the Jacobean embroidery pattern with its stylized depiction of flowers, birds etc.
These are patterns of landscape scenes.
These are patterns which are interconnected in a crisscross pattern with square or diamond-shapes or holes in the junctions
This is a pattern that looks like quilted fabric. The quilting lines will appear as a pattern on the fabric.
These are filled with motifs you find in nature like waves of the ocean, trees, mountains etc
This is a general category of patterns with repeating combinations of motifs like rectangles, squares, ogee shapes etc.
These are patterns which appeal to kids
These are patterns with onion-shaped motifs. It is an ancient Moroccan pattern and you can find this in repeated design all over the fabric or in a single design.
These are patterns filled with intricate and ornate motifs from India and Arabian countries. A very intricate medallion is a recurring design in these patterns.
These are patterns with a patriotic theme with the colours/figures representing specific countries
Palmette is a stylised version of the leaves of the palm tree. The fan-shaped leaf motifs fill this pattern
Polka Dot Patterns
This pattern consists of equally spaced dots all over the fabric surface in a consistent design.
Pin Dot Patterns
This is a pattern of very small dots, like one made by a pin head.
This is a stand-alone print which is strategically placed on the garment so that it is a highlight on that clothing
This is a general term used for 17th-century Indian origin prints with abstract motifs of mostly flowers printed in rich colours and outlined with black
This is a pattern formed by an allover motif of 4 similar sized partially overlapping circle
This is a name given to patterns for a previous fashion
This is a repeating pattern with motifs resembling clam shells
This is a pattern with lots of spiral shapes and curves; usually, you will find this pattern filled with vines and floral elements; named because of resemblance to a rolled scroll of paper.
Stripes patterns have bands/ lines running along the length /breadth or across the fabric.
Hairline stripes; Dress Stripes; Candy Stripes ; Pin Stripe Patterns
Multi colored stripes; Bengal Stripes Pattern; Awning Stripes pattern; Regimental Stripe Patterns
Shadow stripe patterns; Bayadere Stripes Pattern; Roman Stripes pattern; Barcode Stripe Patterns
Chevron stripe patterns (zigzag pattern); Serpentine Stripes Pattern; Breton Stripes pattern
For more details on stripes check out the post – 15 types of stripes in dress materials
This is a repeating pattern with plenty of circular swirls all over the fabric.
This is a repeating pattern with sprigs of foliage all over the fabric.
This is a pattern with crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands in multipe colors (Plaid)
Toil de Juoy Patterns
This pattern has a scenic, pastoral, or floral theme especially of the french countryside. Referred as toile mostly, this is usually one color prints on a white background.
This pattern consists of three-lobed clover-like shapes
This is a pattern with interwoven elements. Trellis is originally a wooden structure supporting climbing vines
These are historical patterns which are valued currently for the heritage as well as beauty
This is a pattern filled with irregular lines resembling the curvy shapes of worms
Water colour Patterns
This is a pattern which looks like a water colour painting with those light transparent brush strokes and a gradation effect.
Zig Zag Patterns
It is a jagged wave-like pattern made with connecting straight lines at an angle. The lines make sharp turns in alternating directions.
These patterns incorporate ethnic, cultural specific motifs (Indian, African, Oriental, Native American)
This is a pattern specific to the ethnic group called Aztecs in Mexico. These are typically geometric patterns with horizontal or vertical repeats. Bright natural colours are used in these patterns.
This pattern has its origin among the native Americans of south-west America. This pattern has geometrical shapes represented inside wide stripes. Colours used are more understated and natural.
These patterns belong to the areas of Pakistan, Afganistan etc and are usually seen in the carpets woven in this area.
Usually African prints are called Tribal prints. But other cultures have their own tribal prints like the warli print (Indian) in the picture and Aboriginal australian patterns.