Detail Inspiration: Bold Prints


Everyone has their own ideas about the best way to use graphic, bold prints in sewing a garment. Some prefer a complicated and visually stunning mix of prints and cut, while others veer more towards the category of simplicity in cut and just one bold print. I admit, I am definitely in the latter camp, having never been much of one to deftly mix prints and colors together in unexpected matters. I leave that to those who are far more talented than I. But I do enjoy the beauty of a good oversized, bold print and wanted to share a few that have been sitting in my bookmarks and inspiring me!

A large scale, abstract print can create some really stunning looks with the right silhouette. While I admit the winged bustline caught my eye first with this dress (a classic, 1950s look!), it’s the watercolor inspired butterfly print that won me over. Subtle and freeform, this print almost screams modern to me. The non-obvious repeat of the print works well with the more complicated seaming of the dress.

Doesn’t this dress remind you a bit of the Peony dress? It’s a beautiful piece from the Alice + Olivia fall/winter 2012/13 collection taht caught my eye immediately. Not only is the large floral stunning, but I love the way the roundness of the print works with the straight neckline and box pleated skirt. Sweet and lovely!

This caught my eye because of it’s strong horizontal pattern, but it’s not stripes. It makes me think a bit of the Lily dress in a way, with it’s curvaceous silhouette. Prints like these aren’t always easy to find, but work in a truly stunning way when paired with classic garment shapes like this, a pencil skirt or even a circle skirt. Minimal seaming helps the print take the center stage and not compete against fussy fit.

Images: 1950s abstract dress, Alice + Olivia, 1950s sheath dress.

Casey Cartwright   —  

Comments 10


I’ve just been given 6m of beautiful, extravagantly tie-dyed voile/muslin, so working with boldly patterned fabric is something I’m thinking about a lot! I have no idea what to do with it or how to wear it yet…


Thanks for sharing these beautiful images! I am in love with blog prints! I guess I pushed it to another extreem: my wardrobe contains very few plain garments. Like you I love when fabric speaks for itself: no need to use complicated designs.


I love the first two examples, but I’m afraid that the row of pineapples straight across the hips of the third dress does nothing for me…and probably not for the woman who would wear it either!


I love them all–which shocks me since I NEVER buy large prints… maybe i have to rethink my strategies! I love the first two especially.


Great choices, I’m inspired already by the second dress!


Alice and Olivia’s dress in my favorite. Yes the silhouette is great but can we just drool over the fabric?


I agree with Erica that the first two dresses and prints are truly amazing and drool worthy, but knowing my body–I do not need a row of pineapples calling people to check out my hips. ;) That Alice and Olivia dress in both silhouette and fabric is stunning!


I loved the Alice + Olivia dress too. I have to be careful with the scale of prints. I love large prints, but use them for home dec. I look completely overwhelmed in a large print. I seem to have the idea that because my features are not large, and I”m not too large that smaller prints that are fairly close together look best on my frame and next to my face.


I have large scale prints that I was unsure what to do with so this is great! Thanks!


I love both dresses I’m not one for big prints because a lady that sews clothes said some big prints can make you look biggger then you really are. So I think I’ll stay with the more smaller prints.

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