What do fabric design descriptions really mean? Do you know the difference between abstract and stylized, for instance? How about herringbone vs. chevron?
An airbrush effect in fabric design is one that imitates the use of a painter’s air spray gun.
Unintentional lines formed by spaces without motifs in a design.
It’s a basic design with no up or down direction; the print might be tossed on a background color, or packed so closely that you can barely see the background, if at all.
A basic design exists in the foreground; but, when you look a little deeper, you see that the background has a printed design as well. Usually this is a more subtle design.
A border print is a design printed parallel to the selvage that is appropriate for borders and binding. It is not just along the edge of the fabric; several border prints can occupy a fabric’s width.
A stylized teardrop; the same as Paisley.
A brick layout of a pattern shifts every other row over horizontally to the halfway point of the previous design element.
A small, allover floral design.
Any Western interpretation of an Oriental design.
Watch where you cut these prints – the design follows a definite vertical, horizontal, or diagonal direction. You’ll see an obvious top and bottom.
A ditzy (ditsie) is an allover design of small buds, circles, zigzags, and other elements that are simple, silly, and may be funny.
Small broken or jagged checks; it’s the same as Houndstooth.
This isn’t a type of print. It means targeting and cutting a specific area of the fabric, rather than randomly cutting the yardage. A print used for fussy cutting is often distinct and usually medium to large in size. Fussy cutting creates interesting design possibilities for either single patches or combined to create unique designs.
You’ll see this in a fabric description, but it’s not about the design. It’s the feel of the fabric.
Herringbone is traditional woven or printed design of zigzags in a stripe layout, much like a chevron except that it has a color break where the stripe reverses.
Not the same as organic fabric; it’s a design inspired by, based on, or composed of plants or a matter of animal origin.
A stylized teardrop-shaped design
Representational designs are realistic – they look like what they are.
A tossed pattern of small shoots, twigs, or leaves of a plant, commonly on a pastel background
A tone-on-tone fabric often looks like a solid color, but upon closer inspection may have a mottled pattern in a range of colors that make it appear to be solid.
A tonal print combines different shades and tones of the same color.
These are only a few of the more familiar words used for design characteristics on fabric. Let us know in Comments if you think of more!