What are your favorite kinds of fabric prints?


Recently, I was talking fabric with someone who runs a small fabric company. They produce prints mostly for the quilting and home decor market, but were curious about what garment sewists in particular look for when it comes to prints.

I thought I’d open it up to you guys: What are your favorite kinds of prints to sew with? Some things to think about:

  • Do you prefer large scale or small scale prints for your clothing?
  • What kinds of prints do you go for? Stripes, florals, plaids, dots, conversation prints, geometrics, etc?
  • Do you like bright and busy prints, or do you look for more subdued prints?
  • Do you like bold colors or muted or pale colors?
  • Are the prints you buy different from the prints you actually wear? i.e., Are you attracted to prints at the fabric store that you don’t actually have a way to fit into your wardrobe?
  • What do you think is hard to find out there?
  • What do you look for?

Tomorrow, Caitlin and I will share some of our own favorites. But I wanted to get your thoughts first!

Fabrics: Tree Shadows Silk, Wavy Lines Linen, Silk/Cotton Polka Dots, Chevron Voile, Blue Floral Voile, Liberty of London Lawn, Floral Rayon, Yellow Floral Silk, 70s Floral Rayon, Black & White Floral Rayon

Some related posts you may be interested in:

  • Fabric Series: Learn about different types of fabrics in our fabric series
  • Fabric Terms: Confused about fabric terms? Take a look at this handy guide.
  • Grainline: Learn about fabric grainline and why it’s important

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 78


My favourite prints are…. solids.

Yeah, sorry to be difficult, but I am totally not a print person at all. I’ve learned my lesson after 8 years of sewing – I’d used to buy prints in fabric stores, sew them up, and then never, ever wear the garment because I just don’t feel comfortable in most print fabrics. So I suppose in true answer to your question – if I wear prints at all, they’re either very subtle, trompe l’oeil (like fake lace or fake sequin), or classic (like breton stripe).


When I shop for clothes I tend to go towards solids or small, very muted prints . When I shop for fabric, I’m attracted to brighter prints in pastels or rich blues — usually florals. I guess I just like working with all the pretty colors and patterns.


I love stripes and can never find them. I see delicious stripes in photos, fashion blogs etc, but nothing in the stores. But I want grown up stripes that don’t look like you stole your niece’s fabric. I prefer greyer hues to clear hues. I love paisley and jacobean prints also.


I am all about the large, bold and geometric. I love to buy big prints and mix them up with block colours. I am starting to head more into some light florals for summer but these still need to be gutsy. I find it hard to get cool mod prints but perhaps I need to look further afield…


I think the biggest issue for me with this series of questions is the fact that a lot of it depends on the pattern or garment that I’m making. However, if we’re just talking fabric in general then:

Do you prefer large scale or small scale prints for your clothing? I actually like both depending on the pattern. Big flowing flowers, or simple polka dots. I’m very eclectic in my tastes.

What kinds of prints do you go for? Stripes, florals, plaids, dots, conversation prints, geometrics, etc? More than anything I think I just avoid conversation prints and geometrics. I prefer all over patterns like stripes, small florals, plaids, and dots, once in a while I like the big asymmetrical florals, but usually I go for a small, all over pattern.

Do you like bright and busy prints, or do you look for more subdued prints? It would depend on the situation. I love bright, bold colours, and most of my wardrobe is that, but I do love a subdued print now and then (one of my soon to be made dresses is a beige and brown floral.)

Do you like bold colors or muted or pale colors? Bold, definitely bold, I am not a pastel girl.

Are the prints you buy different from the prints you actually wear? i.e., Are you attracted to prints at the fabric store that you don’t actually have a way to fit into your wardrobe? Not usually. I find this more with my knitting than with sewing. I see colours in a ball of yarn and love them, but then don’t like how the knit up. More often with sewing I’ll buy outrageous fabric, mull over it for a few months, then just make something and force myself to wear it. By the time I’ve finished my day, I love it.

What do you think is hard to find out there? Decent florals that don’t look like either quilting fabrics or granny fabrics.

What do you look for? Anything that appeals to me. I usually buy the fabric and find a pattern to work for it.


Well I’d just like to second all her answers for my tastes really!

Especially: “What do you think is hard to find out there? Decent florals that don’t look like either quilting fabrics or granny fabrics.”


I find myself drawn to large prints, especially florals and buffalo plaid, but that usually ends up unused when I realize a) how I might end up looking like a tablecloth and b) how annoying matching will be at seams. I actually prefer small prints (novelties are cute, but not so much for me wearing) because they’re much easier to fit into my wardrobe. As for color, I like bold colors and neutrals – I just dislike pastels and extreme brights, it seems. I have a really hard time, for some reason, finding good-quality medium weight cotton garment fabric (it’s a quilter’s world!), especially yarn-dyed. Also, whenever I like a fabric, it seems to be stretch, and I don’t want stretch!


I go nuts for classic garment patterns like plaids, ginghams and houndstooth patterns the most, but I do like a good pattern, every now and again.

When I do chose patterns, it’s usually a medium-sized all-over pattern. My one notable large-scale exception was a abstract watercolor floral which worked out pretty well:


I like small to medium size prints – too small looks like I’ve used quilt fabric and too large overwhelms my petite frame.

I like plaids but unfortunately most of the plaids I find at shops are very large scale and unsuitable for me. I also like stripes and echo what Tam says above!


I love prints all kids. Especially floral and especially if they look vintage. The more feed sack looking the better in my mind.


I love all sorts of patterns… Flowers, gingham, stripes, dots or geometrics…They all float my boat. As long as it has bright colors! I guess it really depends on the garment and design I’m making. There is an exception though… I never get tired of a nice little black dress, just because it’s so versatile.


I tend to gravitate more towards solid fabrics because I’m petite and so many prints out there overwhelm the petite frame. I like subdued prints, bold colors, plaids, narrow/pin stripes, and abstracts. I like florals if they’re small and not overwhelming (or grandma-ish). I’ve actually eyed that white fabric with the little blue flowers you have pictured, but I won’t buy it without seeing it in person (I feel that way about most prints actually). Liberty of London fabric just gives me a headache, it’s too busy.

Hopefully this helps your friend. :-)


I like little ditsy prints, or non solid solids for tops. I like med prints, sort of graphic , 60’s or ethnic inspired.
The background color is important on these types of prints.


untill I started dressmaking one year ago I always kept away from any patterns! Now I have found my love changes like the season, although I am a particular fan of anything 70s.


As others have said, my print preference often depends on what I’m making. But I can generalize a little bit. Since I’m petite, I generally go for medium-small scale prints. The exception to this is if the print doesn’t have too many colors, for example a dark blue floral pattern on a light blue background. I also look for prints that are easy to match to a neutral.


Great questions. I prefer small to medium sized prints, florals and animal prints are great but other prints can work. I like bold colours. I’m ok with busy or muted as long as it’ll work in my wardrobe. I am fairly new to sewing with prints – they’ve intimidated me because I felt I needed to match at seams (which is so painful). Now that I’m almost over that idea (for florals, anyway) it’ opens up a lot of choices. Just yesterday I posted about a floral top I made in rayon jersey. I love it. I think it’s key to have access to florals in rayon jersey and fabrics with good drape and stretch.

paige p @ luxperdiem

I love Large scale bold florals. I’m also a sucker for geometrics.

Vicki Kate

Ooh, toughie! I prefer the classics like polkadots, plaids, gingham, houndstooth and stripes.

What I love though is random prints, so if I bought a polkadot I prefer it if the dots aren’t in a regimental order and are somewhat random in their placement. If the size of the dots are different that can also be a winner. Same for any polkadot style fabric (i.e. something with a motif be it stars, small sailboats, anchors, flowers…) Something as a variation, such as chevrons being a variation of a classic stripe I find appealing too. Stripes I like to be either self-striped or in the style of shirting otherwise I feel its a little too clownish for me.

I find tiny prints a bit too ditzy and girly to fit in with my style, I just find them too busy I guess! Medium size is my preference although I love what others can do with large prints, I just don’t have the confidence to pull it off!


Since I tend to work backwards (pick a fabric then think of a patter that I can use with it) I tend to buy every one of those options. I love big bold patters on skirts but I will pair it with a muted solid color top. Or a muted strip or solid short/pant with a bold color or pattern top. The size of the patter just has to look proportional to whatever I am making.


Mmmm. Lots of “it depends” to follow….

Fabric prints etc depend on what I’m making. I love plain, but just made a stretch fabrci dress with fitted bodice and full skirt in shades of green – floral, but vague.

Love stripes of all types. Narrow, wide, but tend to gravitate to blue and cream..

Adore polka dots of all types. Yum.

As for brightness – well, in summer, I go for brighter – pastels tend to look washed out under our hot bright sun – I leave those for spring. Winter – deeper, richer colours like deep green, winey reds, purples – the ones that look too dark in summer.

I like small florals and have a few liberty lawns but only made one dress out of the stuff – prefer them for blouses – as they can look a bit ditsy. I much prefer large florals – I’m 5’7, so I can take them, and I find them flattering. I read somewhere that small florals and patterns in general suit smaller, thinner people, as it takes longer for the eye to travel over them – whereas with large ones it distracts the eye- I’m not quite zaftig, but not skinny, so i prefer to flatter myself!

Not really a chevronny person or graphicy person – and the only prints I would buy of the above are the poppy and maybe the black and white floral – if they were larger than they look here – besides, of course the polka dot!

My favourite prints are in fact large florals – preferably a bit impressionistic and vague. But I do like converesation prints for fun wear. Bought some Michael Miller (?) tattoo print with hearts and skulls – quilting cotton, but irresistible – for a halter type dress for summer fun :) I am very glad that some of the designers I like (Anna Maria Horner, some Amy Butler, couple of others) are using voile now – I’ve bought some and it’s lovely quality. Butler’s also using viscose whcih I have found hard to buy on line but I would love some of her wilder bright prints in silky viscose!


Definitely small scale, subdued prints (including dots) in muted colors. I find it difficult to find these types of prints in apparel fabrics. They are most often found in quilting cottons and I would love to see them in a range of rayons, batiks or silks.

Diane favoritefabricprints

Prefer geometrics or Asian designs, brighter colors preferred over pale colors; depending upon project: large-scale or small-scale


I like a wide variety of prints. I find that it’s not that I won’t wear the prints I buy (though like everyone, I suspect, I do buy fabric that looks good in the store and get home and think “what was I thinking?” with some frequency) but that my impulse is to buy prints which draw you in with all their flashiness and I don’t buy enough ho-hum solids and neutral colors.


I LOVE prints, but I mostly use florals. I am always on the lookout for vintage looking florals. The scale of the pattern all depends on what I’m making, and the colors I go for depend on the season. Living in the South, I tend to go for fabrics that are lightweight and breathable.

Lisa S.

I love smaller scale florals, especially those that are vintage. I also like polka dots. I’m not much of a stripe gal.


When I buy quilting cottons to make garments I am usually won over by the bright colours and lovely patterns.

1. depends on the pattern pieces, fewer pieces = big prints, lots of pieces = Small/ medium print
2.I mostly like floral, but can always be won over by a interesting polka dot or stripe (although I do try to stay away from stripes, I never have the patience to match them perfectly).
3. bright colours
4. I mostly only buy basics tee’s, knitwear, jeans etc. But I have a few nice shop bought patterns with nice prints
5. it’s really hard to find nice jersey prints for grown ups.
6. what i look for depends on what pattern I’m making.


That’s a great topic. I am about color and print. In my wardrobe I can hardly find anything uni-colored and blend, hardly any black and no white at all. I love big prints with no or very big scale of repetition, also lots of vintage patterns. From small scale prints my favorite is nani Iro.

I think it’s very difficult to find something original in prints. To be honest, I can’t believe there are so many ugly patters out there: like all these “mommy’s” flowers. Horrible. We need more originality and creativity =)

But I feel like I am missing something. So my sewing challenge for this year is to add more calm colors, less prints and more bold colors.


Hi, I’m Becky, and I’m a printoholic…seriously, that is the first thing that draws me to a fabric. I have trouble forcing myself to sew with solids because even though they’re necessary for wardrobe building, prints are way more fun!

So to answer your questions: I like both large and smaller-scale prints, depending on the project I’m making. Though sometimes it’s hard to find a good pattern for a larger-scale print, since I like things that are fitted and those tend to have more seams. I seem to gravitate most often towards geometrics, bold graphic/abstract florals, Asian/Indian-inspired, etc. I love paisley and otherwise swirly prints! (I’m not much of a vintage seamstress, and when I do find vintage things I like, they’re usually 60s and 70s inspired because I’m a hippie at heart.) I tend to go most often for busy prints and bold colors–no pastels here! And I’m stubborn enough that I usually find a way to make them work in my wardrobe, though sometimes it takes me several years and that’s why my wardrobe can be sort of a mishmash.

I think it’s hardest to find really good knit prints. Or for me, good affordable apparel fabrics in natural fibers because Joann’s is the only local fabric store that I have.

Jennifer Lachman

I like large scale prints and as far as color goes I think I lean more towards fabric with a little bit of bright colors mixed with more muted tones. I personally look for uniqueness in a fabric. My favorite fabric of all times was and image of a newspaper with Marilyn Monroe in black and white with the only color in it being a bright red rose in her hair.


I love blue-purple-indigo-ocean bold color patterns, those wich remind me exotic designs such as mandalas or arabics ornaments… and I don´t dare to wear them, hahaha. I use them mostly for purses and bags, so I like sturdy fabrics more than light ones, and small scale prints, wich is hard to find in such kind of designs…
Besides, I live in a country where there are no many shops for fabric, so I have to get it by online shops.
I really would like that purchasing pretty fabrics were easier for me at local stores…


What a great question–thank you for asking! I’m petite and prefer smaller scale prints; I buy subtle or sophisticated color combos; I prefer graphic patterns but generally avoid circles and ovals (depends on the scale). I think it’s very difficult to find good quality fabric with a good print—(and I buy it when I find it) most of what’s in the marketplace is too twee or overdesigned for my taste. The overall “read” of the print (post-garment construction) is what’s important to me—does the print repeat look attractive, does the print itself look fresh (or dated or aging?) My favorite color combos are grays/black, blues, and interesting combos on a black ground.


I love polka dots, gingham, plaids, houndstooth, and large-scale florals. I also love small sized fruit prints, like cherries and strawberries. I love to sew with printed fabrics when I’m making tops and dresses, but prefer solids for skirts and trousers. White is the softest colour in my wardrobe.

I would love to see some of the prints I favour available in light cotton blends, such as silk cotton, or cotton voile. I live in Canada and winter is cold! Finding warm fabrics for winter clothing that do not contain wool is really tricky (I’m allergic to wool). I would love to see a range of warm garment fabrics (not outerwear) for us non-wool wearing people. :)


I’ll second that wish for non-wool outerwear fabric! I had to practically make a quilt to line a synthetic suedecloth for my winter coat, because it was the only way I could make myself a warm winter coat that was actually long enough for my arms!


I like graphic/geometric prints the best (and abstract florals), especially when neutral and bold colors are mixed together. Chevrons are the best, but hard to find for me. I will go for florals, but usually only if there is something unusual or interesting about them like they look kind of vintage or have unexpected colors.


I love dots, stripes and large scale florals when it comes to patterned materials. As far as bold or muted with coloring – I am anything goes kind of girl.


I have a weakness for small to medium sized floral prints in bright bold colors. I’ve also been buying more small scale prints with animals.


My all-time favorite print is dots! I also like plaids/gingham and small-scale florals as well as stripes. And I’m more a bold color type of girl, although I like black, grey and navy as neutrals. Sometimes, I think a fabric is fantastic (a big graphic or fruit print, maybe) and I’ll have to remind myself that I very rarely wear big prints…


I’m always attracted to prints on other people, but when it comes down to it, I’m not a print person at all… very rarely am I attracted to a print I’ll actually wear, and it’s usually something very subtle, classic, or minimal. I do love dots, and am attracted to those, in classic colours such as navy or red or black, but do i own any? no i do not LOL. I also adore jacquard and Chinese brocade prints… a matte print on a satin fabric in the same colour is just my thing ^__^


I love to look at prints, and I love Liberty of London prints in particular, but I wear more solids. In fact, I have several pieces of LOL fabric but have yet to sew any of them up. I use prints for rayon knit tops and the occasional dress. In silk, they are also OK as lining fabric for a wool garment. I am not at all interested in wearing quilting fabrics as they just look home-ec to me. I guess I want my prints to be like RTW prints. Of course, among the most important features of a fabric are the feel and drape. Most quilting fabric feels nasty and drapes badly. I want my home made clothes to look like quality RTW, not a quilting project.


I love bold, oversized prints, like the ones Marimekko makes. Geometric is awesome too. Oversized florals also awesome. I don’t like smaller floral or geometric prints because a lot of the time they feel a little too precious or overly feminine for my taste.


I love prints that scream “I’M PSYCHEDELIC!!! I’M LOUD!!! AND I WON’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!” What can I say, I love the 60’s! Bold reds and blues together are my favorite, but I also love a eye-melting op art print in black and white. The kind that gives you a headache! I admire soft pastels on other people, but it just doesn’t feel right on me. The more annoying and garish, the better! (excepting tie-dye, cannot stand that at all, reminds me too much of summer camp crafts!)

Natalie | FrizzyDizzy

I love bright fun colors and prints. I can spend hours looking at fabric and fantasist. The problem is I feel like I’m 12 whenever I wear them. My wardrobe is mostly neutrals, and earth tones (they look best on me). This season my goal is to branch out of my norm and get some bolder items in my closet.


I am in the “it depends” group. Color dominates most of my fabric selections. Being 5’10” I look for larger prints, floral or geometric for tops and dresses. I agree with Miriam – NOT a fan of anything too “precious or overly feminine”. Pants require solids or subdued stripes. I would like to see more selections available in knits that an adult could wear. They are really hard to find where I live.


I like small prints with fairly simple color schemes–it’s usually more about the overall colors present than the actual print itself. dots, animals, geometric prints, houses, trees, flowers, any object can look good if it’s in the right color scheme. I do like medium and large prints too, but I find they don’t always lend themselves to smaller details on something like a blouse or tank top.


(Long time lurker, first time replying…)

In my clothing sewing, I tend to avoid prints, mostly because of the quality of printed fabric I can find locally. With a few exceptions, fabrics intended for quilting really aren’t right (in terms of hand, drape, weight, etc) for clothes. No matter how cute a print is, if it’s printed on stiff, scratchy, sheer fabric, it’ll be difficult to make something that I’ll love to wear.

That said, assuming high-quality dressmaking fabric, I would love small-scale florals with some blank space in between the flowers. I’ve been searching for black cotton with little red flowers for years without any luck. I also like prints that are small enough and repetitive enough to come off more as a texture than a print. And I like the idea of geometric prints, but can’t ever seem to find one where the scale feels right for my 5’1″ self, heh.


I am more so a solids person. What catches my eye with fashion is the cut and shapes. Which is probably why my favorite designer right now is Masayo Yasuki’s with Dogstar.
I do find myself drawn to dots, strips and abstract prints. Don’t ask me why floral prints show up in my stash, but they usually are on the medium to large scale. Right now I do love African Wax prints, they are so bold and exciting.

liza jane

I am a stripe junkie. I can’t get enough. I love prints when they are simple, uncomplicated and crisp. And did I mention stripes? I can’t resist a good stripe.


I am a plus sized gal and I like to sew because it can be hard to find things that fit just right. I like bold colors (I am dark haired) in medium and smaller scale prints. As much as I love larger prints it doesn’t do to end up with a giant rose right on your butt. I am a big fan of vertical stripes, paisley, small polka dots, interesting florals that don’t look like granny nightgown fabric, geometric.


My mom always tells me that big prints make you look bigger so I have had a tendency to stay away from them. I love beautiful florals and I do love the big bold prints, but I usually end up buying a more wearable smaller floral. I’ve never gotten stripes, but I love plaid! Geometric prints are sometime s really cool, but I can never find good ones where I shop.


I’m a flower girl, I love flower prints in most scales. I prefer pastel colors but quite often can’t resist black background flower prints. This is my first comment in this beautiful blog, so forgive me if it is still a little shy.


For me, it depends on the pattern. For example, I made a crepe dress out of bright, large scale floral print, yet I have made t shirts from plain white, and I plan to make clover trousers out of a plain fabric. On the whole, I prefer bright prints though, but not too small scale!


I would love to be able to find blouse/dress-weight cotton in border prints. Border prints are so interesting! There were some great border prints in the mid-19th century, and more at various times in the 20th century. I always love repro fabrics, especially when there’s information available about the original material (what textile, weight, colorway, use, etc. it was, when it’s from, whether the repro is from an extant textile or a design book). There’s a market out there for apparel-weight reproduction fabrics!


After many years of trial and error, I’ve found that the prints that look best on me, and that I wear over and over, are small floral or geometric. I think it’s because I have an angular face with not a lot of space between my features. So prints with lots of space between large motifs just look jarring on me.
I love plaid, but can only wear it on the bias or with some small ruffles, otherwise it looks to masculine on me. I have a leopard print velvet blazer with just the right scale print, but I get so much attention when I wear it that I really have to think about that when I consider putting it on. What’s that about?
I think the most attractive print for any wearer is the one that makes them feel comfortable and attractive (whatever that means!) when wearing it.
I’ve started wrapping fabric around myself in front of the fabric store’s best mirror to decide if it’s a comfortable fit for me or not. No more wasting money on prints for me.


I would like a wider choice of unuasual solid colors in a variety of materials. For instance I can find interesting colors in wool and corduroy but (funnily enough) not so much in cotton and linen. I would like more vintage and traditional inspired prints. I would never sew with conversation prints.
Thanks for asking!


I wish I could find border prints in apparel fabrics. My favorite dress is store bought, and pretty simply designed, the print is what makes it fabulous. Small red polka dots at the neck that get larger and larger until they burst into giant roses at the hemline. I’d love to copy it, but I think I’m going to have to design my own fabric and have it printed via Spoonflower.


I really love the chevron. I tend to like prints that are bold and not too cutesy.


I love prints! I like small to medium scale prints in bright colors. Polka dots are nice too! Retro 70s prints are adorable as well. (:


I like vintage florals as well, and I also use geometrics and dots/stripes. I have a really hard time finding fabric with good spacing between the elements for garments, especially in cotton prints. Fabrics do not need to be so busy and have design elements covering every available space! I’d like to see some space between those flowers, dots, without mottling the background to make it look “old-timey”.


I like small floral and small dots in bold, colorful and dark colors, which is the ones I mostly wear. And also whimsical ones, such as patterns of animals and – I don’t know – air ballons and icecream cones. A bit retro and conservative, but with much rich colors. I like more bolder patterns as well (ex. larger dots, stripes) but find them harder to wear.

At the moment I can’t find a good blouse fabric to go with a meringue in cream white with large marine dots.


When I do sew with printed fabric, some thing I do rarely, I prefer geometic/ abstract designs.


I have to confess, as pretty as prints are to look at, I mostly wear solids. If I do wear prints, it’s sparsely printed (lots of clean space, occasional motifs) or prints that look textural.


I love small to medium sized prints–I want to wear the fabric, not look like it’s wearing me, and I’m always on the lookout for sophisticated, saturated colors. When I’m looking at a fabric for sewing, I avoid patterns that are going to be a nightmare to match the seams or add ridiculous amounts of yardage to match the print across pieces. Geometric patterns and asian-inspired florals are favorites. While I buy many solid pieces in ready-to-wear, I concentrate on patterns and textures in choosing fabric for sewing, to make something special and fun.


I love stripes also but can never find them in the garment district. I also like small plaid, small scale florals, polka-dots and solid colors.


I love prints but scale is paramount. The bigger the better. I’m always disappointed if the print melts into nothingness when you step more than a metre away from the garment, or if the repeats of the print are too obvious.

I also don’t like prints to be too pretty; they need some boldness, acid or wit in them or I find them cloying and just not me.


Ooh, I love stripes, dots – especially irregular ones – plaids, ginghams, and the classics like houndstooth. I also love abstracts, and geometrics, and what I think of as graphic florals – not prissy pretty pretty florals, but florals with some edge. Like the black/white one you have above. I also like ‘conversation’ prints as long as they’re not too ‘quirky quirky’. Subtlety is the key.
I like all of these in saturated colours. I’m still working on scale, and matching print and scale and pattern successfully.
I wish I had more prints, but it’s hard to find nice ones for garments. There’s so much mumsy stuff.


I love me some houndstooth, polka dots, classic stripes, chevron, ginghams and even the large scale graphic/geometric or floral (a la Marimekko), in moderation. But it’s sooo hard to find something in a suitable garment textile. Just took a peek at my RTW – lots of stripes and dots. Flowers are nice, and though I’m drawn to fabrics like Liberty, I feel they don’t suit me as well.


I like a medium print; I’m petite and it’s hard to find a large print that doesn’t overwhelm my frame. Small is OK too but if you’re not careful it can look dowdy.

My favourite is a bright print over a neutral base, like a brilliant royal blue over ivory. As for subject, I like basic stripes and plaids, as well as some print-prints like a bird silhouette or something floral. I love mixing prints! Contrasting stripes, or plaid and floral, it’s great!


I am a pattern fiend. Seriously! I cannot handle wearing an all-solid outfit, except for some rare days when I just want to wear all black and just be a shape. I have a rule where no outfit should go without a touch of something “alive,” so this means patterns with animals on them (not animal print) or florals. A large part of my wardrobe is vintage, but I’m extremely particular about color. Pretty much if I see a pattern I like, I will wear the clothing to a fault; even if it doesn’t really fit me well as far as the garment itself goes.

What I’m often looking for in fabrics for my own projects are: space photography prints, a map, always polka dots but preferably dots which are not aligned to a grid, houses, florals that are more illustrative and less line work, and Japanese ditzy animal silly things… These wishes tend to be really difficult to find, are printed on the wrong kind of fabric, or are really expensive!


I think I’m forever learning when it comes to picking prints for garment sewing. I try to choose small-scale prints because I am a rather small person and a large print often looks crazy on me. I like stripes, plaids, dots, geometrics (particularly 50s/early 60s) or small-scale, not very “girly/over-the-top” florals. If I’m going for a print, I tend to go for more subdued colors and again, small to medium scale. I like autumn and wintery color palettes (grays, burgundy, rust, marigold, foresty greens). I am often attracted to prints in the fabric store which I shouldn’t use for my own clothing. These are often bright or larger scale prints (like quilting and home dec Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner fabrics, or even larger scale Liberty prints) that just don’t fit in with my wardrobe, my size, or my personality. They’re cute for things like home decorating, linings, or accessories, but just not for my shirts, skirts and dresses!
I have a hard time finding the kinds of small-scale, muted, and especially geometric prints I’d like to see more of in apparel-appropriate fabrics.

Brenda Marks

I want abstract florals and geometrics, please. Think distorted circles and what is referred to as “ethnic” prints. The prints should be medium-sized (smaller than 1″ in a large area), and I like tonal prints: blue on blue, etc. I buy slightly muted shades (sea green, not full-on bright jade). Ahh, now if I just could make these for my Spoonflower account!

Brenda Marks

Oh, and not thank you with any regular patterns & stripes. As a busty person, I have to ask, “Where do I want the pattern to distort?” I’d rather not have to decide.


for me, it’s either solids or small floral for clothing. if it’s for decor, i usually go for dots and stripes, if not, yet again, solids.
but bottom line, i would definitely drawn to the small floral shelf in a shop. they’re forever so cute.


Interesting questions and very pertinent since I was at the fabric store twice last weekend trying to find prints for a variety of projects. Sadly I ended up buying nothing.
First I love solids, subdued plaids and polka dots for my wardrobe. I tend to use very greyed, deep colors. I love it when I can find a nice floral blouse, but the fact that I don’t currently have one says that finding a floral I like is next to impossible. I want the background to not be white or cream. I want the flowers to be mid-sized and not very detailed. I don’t want to look like I have cut up my sheets to make a dress. Also, I do love Indian print cottons and paisleys.
On the other side, the non-asked side, one of the projects I was shopping for was a quilt. I found nothing that I wanted to use. The prints were all so strong and large that I didn’t want to see them in my bedroom. So I guess that I have to say that I do not even like the current prints for quilting.


I’m all over the place in what I wear — just out of college and trying to find a style. So far: darker solids in the winter (when I need layers) and bright prints in the summer (when I can get away with a bright print and one other solid in a camisole or light jacket). I do find it hard to find subtle solids — colors which aren’t found in the basic box of 16 crayons.

My love-it-can’t-find-it fabric has to be an interesting square woven plaid. Interesting generally in color to avoid the school girl look, square so it can be put on the bias without looking wrong. I love using plaid on the bias, but the rectangular kind just doesn’t work. Woven because printed plaid is so often off grain, and then you’re sunk. Preferred fabric would be a lightweight wool.

On the other end of the spectrum, my they’re-everywhere-who-actually-uses-these-fabrics: poly charmeuse and poly chiffon. Now, I’ve used them once in a while, and admit they have their place, but in the big box store where I shop (due to limited options and budget), it seems 80% of the garment fabrics are one or the other. There are so many great print patterns I’d love to see in a cotton lawn, or a poly crepe, or a cotton sateen or some kind of knit. In short, fabrics which aren’t super-shiny or sheer.


I would love to see more classic-looking prints in garment grade fabrics. Generic enough of a comment, he he? I see so many delightful items in shops, on the web, in books, etc, made up in prints that are classic designs like mid-size florals, abstract prints, geometrics and random patterns, polka dots, etc. in colors that are attractive, bright but not eye-searing, slightly muted and attractive with many complexions. Then I go shopping and I find none of these at all. I mean, I really like the prints put out by, say, Amy Butler, but if I made a whole dress out of most of those prints I would look like a sofa. When I do find a decent print it’s often on quilting cotton, and I want better quality than that.

Lynn Johnson

Prints add a fun factor to sewing. The variety of styles and colors make for a creative challenge. I think the color combination and proportions are important in how often it will be worn. Prints that blend with denim blue, black and other neutrals always get the most wear.

I find it difficult to buy prints online since they are pictured in a small square with a white frame, making it like going to a museum and selecting your favorite painting. Not always the best for sewing when it arrives in the mail. It is so helpful to blend the print with the solids that make the fun color combinations jump out.

If I was designing prints I would be aware of the colors that blend with the many solid muted colors and neutrals people wear. Fun quirky little variations are nice and harmony where the colors combine rather than stand alone.

I love the peeking out bit of print as a lining or simple shell or little skirt or scarf. There is a message of optimism and play that you can share with everyone you meet.

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