If a magpie is attracted to shiny, bulls to red, then I’m most definitely attracted to patterns. My wardrobe is an assault to the eyes, with geometric prints, vibrant colours and lurid shapes shouting out from their shelves, begging to be inflicted on the world. I often wish we could recapture that childhood novelty of the reversible garment. Then I could wear two prints in one day. Genius.
Unsure of how to translate my appreciation for all that tessellates, reflects and recurs into something productive, I decided to ponder a little on the appeal of it all and consider how pattern is often a signifier of something much deeper.
Take, for example, the staple of heritage fabric: Houndstooth. The simple distinguishable shapes mark a class distinction, a notion of prosperity and tradition. Or the humble Polka Dot – a print that is synonymous with the 1950s pursuit of fun, outlandish individualism and social rebellion. Pattern is a visual language, something we’re tuned to recognise.
In awe of these iconic designs, I decided that I too could create something appealing to the eyes. Something simple, something that I could draw, tweak and translate onto fabric.
Since the D.I.Y fashion trend is pretty rife in the blogging world, I took this as my starting point. As it turns out there’s a scary world of felt-based creations and shapeless hessian forms out there. Luckily, after wading through these, I soon discovered a fair amount of inspiration too.
With the intricacy of complex patterns a distant dream for myself the rookie designer, I decided that it would be best to stick to the simplicity of geometrics. Armed with a Pinterest board for reference, a paintbrush and sheer enthusiasm, I set to work.
It’s been a long time since I coloured anything in. I seem to remember I used to be able to stay within the lines, but this was far more of a challenge than I was anticipating. Bludgeoning my way over several sheets of paper, I finally decided on my favourite design: a vaguely Aztec-come-graphic print number.
With the reams of advice that I’d compiled from my D.I.Y research, I discovered that producing your own printed fabric is now surprisingly easy. Without the luxury of a laser printing facility, I was directed towards Spoonflower– an American website that lets you upload your image, edit and choose your preferred fabric.
Simple instructions let me resize, adjust and re-colour my sample. Then for a relatively low price I was able to request swatches of my somewhat questionable designs.
There’s something special about getting involved in the method of design. Sure, I didn’t source the cotton or print the fabric myself, but I did step in at a certain point in the process. My fabric scribblings were unique in their own way, and although I don’t have any grand designs to pursue this fledgling appreciation of textile printing, it’s an exciting realisation that it is possible and easy to bypass mass-produced design and produce something entirely new. I will, however, be staying away from hessian.