madras, gingham and houndstooth oh my

do you know your patterns?

One of the simple truths about writing this blog over the years is the concept that if there is something that I have a question about, usually there are quite a few of you out there that would appreciate a little re-fresher too. In that spirit of shared learning I’ve decided to bring to you a simple users guide to some of the most common fabric patterns on the market today. No longer will you feel sheepish when you call a tartan a madras or confuse your herringbone for your houndstooth. How mortifying would that be?! Do not despair – help is here.

– brother

Gingham Check – Generally a cross hatch of white and one other color in a tight and small check pattern.

Buffalo Check – Very similar to the gingham but in a bigger scale. Typically in red and black, but can be found in other colors. Nine times out of ten it is a flannel fabric as well.

Argyle – Generally a three color diamond pattern with a thin additional diamond pattern overlay.

Harlequin – Not to be confused with argyle – its another diamond pattern with three colors and generally a black or white background. Think Court jester – this is not a good look, ever.

Glen Plaid – Wool fabric with a woven twill – usually in two colors making a larger check pattern out of smaller check patterns. Think Pee wee herman. Almost always in a light grey.

Herringbone – Two colors, creating a repeating arrow pattern. Simple as that.

Houndstooth – Usually in black and white although can come in other colors. It’s distinct miss pacman looking repeated pattern is common in pillows, jackets, scarves and other apparel. A little goes a long way.

Madras – An interconnecting multi-color plaid where each color intersects to create a new darker hue.

Tartan Plaid – This scottish mainstay is actually quite complicated, but the tell tale characteristics are interconnecting bands at right angles in red green and yellow.

Tattersall – Two thin color bands intersecting at right angles to create an inverted check. Background is usually white.

Paisley – Distinct and obvious people. Almost looks like multi-colored feathers. Comes in many color versions.

Toile – Saving the best for last. This English classic is literally a story told through textile – usually featuring a historic event or other familiar scenes repeated throughout the fabric to create an intricate pattern. Used in wallpaper, blankets, pillows and generally for home design purposes.


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