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How to Create A Textile Print: It’s All In The Repeat (Part 5)

Get ready for the grand finale of our series on designing a custom print for your fashion brand. Last week, we explored the importance of motifs in bringing your print to life. While the elements within your design undoubtedly steal the spotlight, it's equally important to give thought to their arrangement and repetition. In this post, we'll dive into the art of setting up your pattern for a seamless repeat and making sure it's ready for production.

Layout + Repeat

Rosette print set up in a full drop repeat pattern
Full Drop Repeat

The layout of your pattern and the way you repeat your artwork will significantly impact your textile print's overall look and feel. You’ll want to experiment with various layouts to find the perfect balance that complements your design concept and elevates your print. Below are the most common types of repeats your artwork might have.

  • Full Drop Repeat: The most basic type of repeat. Here, the pattern is repeated exactly as it is, straight across (horizontally) and down (vertically). The motifs line up in a grid. The x + y-axis is at the same point on the vertical plain for each repeat.

Rosette print set up in a half drop repeat pattern
Half Drop Repeat

  • Half Drop Repeat: This type of repeat is a bit more complex, creating a more dynamic and less grid-like feel than a straight repeat. In a half-drop, each row of the pattern is repeated halfway down the side of the previous row. This makes the motifs seem to stagger and can give a sense of flow or movement.

  • Brick Repeat: A brick repeat is similar to a half-drop repeat, but the repeat is shifted horizontally instead of vertically, much like bricks in a wall. This gives the pattern more of a woven or interlaced appearance.

Rosette print set up in a brick repeat pattern
Brick Repeat

  • Mirror Repeat: Also known as a reflection repeat, this is where motifs are flipped or mirrored along a vertical or horizontal axis, creating a symmetrical effect that can be especially striking. This is more commonly used in placement prints.

Creating Your Repeat

When creating your repeat, the key is understanding your pattern's four corners. These four corners will be the anchor points for your repeat and should seamlessly join with each other when the pattern is repeated. To make sure they align perfectly, you may need to carefully adjust your motifs so that elements at the top and bottom or left and right of your design connect smoothly.

Here's a helpful tip: To avoid a boxy look, try not to put important elements of your design directly on the corners. Instead, distribute your main motifs throughout the central area and use smaller, less focal motifs or elements at the edges that can be repeated and matched up easily.

Scale and Size

Green palm leaf tropical printed fabric draped on a dress form.
Checking the scale of a print for Girls of Summer

Another factor to consider when creating your repeat is the scale and size of your motifs within the pattern. Different products and applications may call for different scales. For example, a small-scale pattern might work well for a bikini, while a larger scale might be better suited for a long dress or coverup. Scale is often something you can adjust during the prep stage.

For our team, we often print out ‘to scale’ art and hold it up to a body or a dress form to ensure the scale starts from a good place.

Double Check Colors to Ensure Printability

While you've chosen your color palette early in the process, it's essential to revisit it once you've created your repeat. When the same colors are repeated across a large area, it can sometimes magnify color imbalances that weren't as noticeable in a single instance of your design. There may also be too many colors in your artwork, so you may need to make adjustments to make it printable. It’s important you’re prepared to make any necessary adjustments to ensure your palette works well in repeat.

Sketches of lingerie with a print filled in at 50% scale and 80% scale.
Comparing 50% scale vs. 80% scale for Mentionables.

Test + Adjust your Repeat

Before finalizing your artwork to prepare for printing, it's essential to test the repeat to ensure it flows smoothly without any visible seams. You may need to adjust the positioning of motifs, tweak colors, or make other changes based on how the pattern looks when repeated. At this point, you might want to move or rearrange motifs to make the pattern repeat less or more obvious, depending on the vibe you’re going for with the print.

Remember that getting your pattern right might require a few rounds of revisions. Don't be discouraged if your first repeat doesn't come out perfectly.

Prep for Production

artwork with a scale defined and defines the color standards the artwork should match
Page 1 of print for production

When your design is ready to share with the factories, you must prepare the print for production.

This often involves formatting the design file to be compatible with the printing technique you'll be using, whether digital printing, screen printing, or another method. The artwork file should be in a format your mill can open and use. Common formats include TIFF for raster images or AI or EPS for vector images.

If your design uses more than a few colors, it will usually need to be separated into individual color layers for printing, especially for techniques like screen printing, where each color is applied separately.

When preparing your design for factory production, it's also crucial to include any special instructions for the printer, such as whether any areas should be printed with special techniques or finishes.

artwork repeat in a contrasting color.
Page 2 of print for production

When our team prepares artwork for factory strike-offs, we include several pages to help ensure we get it right. Below are the pages we include in our artwork packages.

  • 1st page shows the artwork with a scale defined and defines the color standards the artwork should match

  • 2nd page outlines the artwork repeat in a contrasting color.

  • 3rd page has a detailed callout of which color standards are in each position on the artwork.

detailed callout of which color standards are in each position on the artwork.
Page 3 of print for production

As we close this comprehensive guide on creating a custom print, it's evident that the process is both an art and a science, requiring creativity, technical skill, and patience. But don't let that discourage you. The satisfaction of creating a print that is entirely your own is beyond rewarding, and the journey is full of opportunities for growth and discovery.

Let's quickly revisit what we've learned in this series:

In Part 1, we introduced the concept of print development and discussed how to start your print journey by finding inspiration and defining your concept.

Part 2 took us through the process of drawing or developing the artwork, considering different styles and approaches, and exploring how to make our prints unique.

In Part 3, we delved into the world of color, discussing color stories and palettes, and the importance of understanding and applying color theory to our prints.

In Part 4, we explored how print motifs can shape your print when you play around with different styles, scales, and types.

Finally, in this concluding part, we've explored the impact of layout and repeat, the process of creating your repeat, the importance of testing and adjusting your design, and how to prepare your print for production.

We hope this series has given you a clear understanding of the process and the confidence to create your own unique prints. Remember that creating a print is a journey, one that often involves iterations and learning from past designs. Don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes - that's where some of the most innovative ideas come from!

As you move forward with your print development, keep these key takeaways in mind:

  1. Always start with a strong concept or theme that guides your artwork development.

  2. Be thoughtful about your color choices and how they work together to tell a story.

  3. Understand and experiment with different layouts and repeat types to find the best one for your design.

  4. Don't forget to test and adjust your repeat until it's just right.

  5. Lastly, make sure to properly prepare your design for production to ensure the best possible outcome.

  6. Remember, creating a custom print is a powerful way to express your unique style and perspective. It's an opportunity to make something truly one-of-a-kind. Don't rush the process - enjoy every step of the journey. After all, it's not just about the destination, but the journey itself that makes the entire process worthwhile.

Thank you for joining us in this series. We can't wait to see the amazing prints you'll create!

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