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Today, I want to talk about something I think many sewists struggle with: choosing the right prints.
What I’ve heard over and over from you guys is that prints are incredibly seductive. Fabric stores are awash in adorable prints that look great on the bolt. But often, we get them home and don’t know what to do with them. Or, we make garments that sit in our closet and never get worn, either because they are too loud, too cute, or they just don’t go with anything.
By thinking ahead about the prints that you are really drawn to, you can narrow your choices and sidestep this feeling of being overwhelmed at the fabric store. If you know what’s really you, you’re less likely to collect things simply because they’re pretty or cute.
Prints are eye catching. When you’re out shopping for fabric, because you’re really just looking at flat fabric, solids can appear so boring in comparison that you wind up with many more prints than you actually need.
Elements of print
Here are a few things to think about this week:
- Prints vs. solids: What percentage of your wardrobe do you actually want to be comprised of prints? Some people wear prints all the time, for others they’re more of an accent.
- Scale: Do you tend to prefer large scale prints, small scale, or a mixture of both?
- Contrast: Do the prints you like use lots of contrasting, bold colors? Or are they more tonal and subdued?
- Naturalism: Do you feel drawn to flowing, organic, or naturalistic prints? Or are strong, abstract, geometric designs your thing? Or are there versions of both that you love?
- Mood: There are hundreds of styles of prints. Are there prints you choose that relate to your 5 style words?
Types of prints
To get you thinking about prints, I’ve put together several basic print styles here to think about. Of course, there’s plenty of overlap, and some designs don’t fit in any of these categories. But these are major types to get your brain working.
Stripes, checks, and plaids
Classic striped designs like these can be printed on fabric, or woven or knitted in. The designs can be loud and colorful, or quiet and textural.
When you think of dots, you may first think of classic polka dot patterns. But there are plenty of other types of dotted patterns. Usually, there is an abstract motif (a circle or other shape) laid out in a gridded formation.
Of course, dots and stripes can also be considered geometrics, but these days there are many other geometric prints available.
Flowers have been a consistent motif in print design for centuries. From big and lush florals to tiny ditsy prints, abstracted designs to photorealistic digital prints, florals take on so many moods. Sometimes they can be almost geometric, sometimes they can be used as dot motifs, and sometimes they are more naturalistic.
Animal print can be worn in so many ways. Some people wear it almost like a neutral, particularly leopard print. Of course, it can also be quite loud. I feel that animal print is a love it or hate it type of print.
Novelty prints are plentiful, particularly in the world of quilting. Novelty prints are usually thematic and representational, depicting people, animals, or objects. They often used to be referred to as “conversation prints.”
Feel free to think outside of these categories as well. You may only like certain types of stripes, like pinstripes or breton stripes. Or perhaps you love tiny busy floral prints, but not large scale florals.
Personally, I tend to go for the classics (stripes, checks, dots), plaids, really lush florals, or anything that has a hand printed or hand drawn look.
- Examine your favorite clothing. Pick out the 10-20 most worn items in your wardrobe. What percentage of them are printed?
- Pick your prints. Write down your most beloved styles of prints. Be sure to look through your closet and your fabric stash.
- Update your moodboard. If you have a moodboard, try adding in examples of prints you favor. I’ve added my palettes and prints to my own core style pinterest board.
What are your favorite types of prints? And are those the ones you find yourself buying?