How to Mix and Match Patterns
If you struggle to mix and match patterns then this is the article for you to read. We break down pattern matching so you understand what patterns will work together and how to create a pattern collection. We even give you some popular pattern recipes to follow. Let's get started.
Types of Patterns
There are multiple types of fabric patterns. Here at Hydrangea Lane Home, we classify patterns into 3 main types - Free-Flowing, Geometric Lines and Motifs.
Free-Flowing (Organic) Patterns
Free-flowing or organic patterns have lots of curves and organic lines and shapes. The repeating pattern is less obvious and it may be hard to tell where the pattern starts and stops.
Examples of Free-Flowing Patterns:
- Floral and botanical all over designs
- Scenery such as a Toile
Featured Fabrics - Hydrangea Garden Blue and Maiden Hair Fern
Geometric Line Patterns
Geometric line patterns have a linear pattern arrangement with strong vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines.
Examples of Geometric Line Patterns:
- Stripes (vertical lines)
- Checks and Plaids (vertical and horizontal lines)
- Trellis patterns (diagonal lines)
Some trellis designs may include motifs and organic shapes and lines but will still have an identifiable linear repeating pattern.
Featured Fabrics - Regatta Stripe Navy, Medium Gingham Check Linen, Diamond Trellis Navy/Linen
Motif patterns feature a motif or element that may be either an organic shape or geometric shape, but is repeated in a regular pattern so you can easily see the pattern repeat. Motif patterns may produce visual lines or spaces between the motifs.
Motifs sit in between free-flowing patterns and linear patterns. Organic motifs will be more similar to free-flowing patterns, while geometric motifs will be more linear.
Even if the motif is organic, because it is arranged in a regular repeating pattern it has a more geometric feel to it.
Examples of Motif Patterns:
- Paisley and Damask patterns
- Small florals or objects that have a regular repeat.
Featured Fabrics - Forget Me Nots on White, Amalfi Swish Reverse on Cornflower
Plains & Textures
Plain fabrics may not be a pattern but it is important to include them when mixing and matching a collection of patterns. Plains provide "breathing space" in-between patterns. They allow the eye to rest.
At Hydrangea Lane Home we specialise in printed fabrics, but textured plain woven and knitted fabrics can be treated the same as a printed plain, except they also add a textural element to the mix. For example, a plain brushed cotton velvet.
Scale of Patterns
The scale of the pattern refers to the size of the element or arrangement in the pattern. For example: the width of a stripe, the diameter of a spot, the height of a check, the length or height of a motif.
This can be different to the pattern repeat of the fabric which is the vertical or horizontal measurement before a pattern repeats itself. For example, a spot with a 3cm diameter would be classified as a small design, but if the spots are spaced 7cm apart the pattern repeat would be 10cm.
We have classified our pattern scales as follows:
- Small Scale is less than 5cm
- Medium Scale is 6-14cm
- Large Scale is 15-30cm
- Extra Large Scale is greater than 30cm
A pattern collection will be more interesting if you vary the scale of the patterns. Include small, medium and large or extra-large patterns in your collection. The same way a colour scheme is more interesting when you include a mix of light, mid, and deep tones.
Featured Fabrics - Hydrangea Petal Pink, Awning Stripe Peony, Hydrangea Garden Pink
How to Mix & Match Patterns
Mixing and matching patterns can seem overwhelming but if you follow our guide, you'll be putting together a pattern collection in no time.
Think about the pattern types as sitting on a slider. On the left you have free-flowing organic patterns. On the right you have Geometric line patterns, and in the middle you have Motifs. Plains are always there if you want to add them.
When you put together a collection of patterns, you usually start with a feature pattern. This is a pattern you fall in love with and will feature in your room in some way. Often this pattern will be a free-flowing or motif pattern.
When you mix and match patterns you want to use contrast by choosing patterns from either end the pattern slider and by mixing up the scale of the patterns - small, medium and large or extra-large.
Pattern Collection of 2
Let's start with a simple combination of 2 patterns
Step 1 - Start with your feature pattern. This is usually a free-flowing or organic motif pattern with one or more colours.
Step 2 - Now pick a contrasting line design that you like. A stripe, trellis, or a check. Any combination you like.
Pattern Recipe for 2 = one free-flowing or organic motif pattern + one line pattern
Featured Cushions - Hydrangea Garden Blue, Breton Stripe Serenity, Greek Gate Blue, Medium Gingham Check Serenity, Hydrangea Petal Serenity
Pattern Collection of 3
To create a collection of 3 patterns, start with your two pattern collection and add either another line, another free-flowing or organic motif in a different scale or a plain.
Option 1 Create a line group - use 2 line designs and either a free-flowing or organic motif design.
Pattern Recipe for 3 in a Line Group = free-flowing or organic motif + 2 contrasting lines
Featured Cushions - Hydrangea Garden Blue, Breton Stripe Serenity, Greek Gate Blue, Medium Gingham Check Serenity, Hydrangea Petal Serenity, Amalfi Swish Reverse Serenity
Option 2 Create a free-flowing group - use a free-flowing design, and another organic design in a different scale and a line design
Option 3 - Add a plain. Choose a colour from your colour scheme to give the patterns some breathing space. If you are creating cushions, contrast piping will allow you to link 2 colours in your collection.
Pattern Recipe for 3 in a Plain Group = free-flowing design + line design + plain
Featured Cushions - Hydrangea Garden Blue, Breton Stripe Serenity, Greek Gate Blue, Medium Gingham Check Serenity, Hydrangea Petal Serenity, Perfectly Plain Serenity
Pattern Collection of 4
Collections of more than 3 patterns benefit from including a plain design. To create a collection of 4, add a plain to your free-flowing or line collection of 3 patterns.
Pattern Collection of 5
Collections of 5 use 2 free-flowing or organic patterns, 2 line patterns and a plain design.
Pattern Recipe for 5 = free-flowing design + organic motif in different scale + line design + second contrasting line design + plain
That is the secret to creating a pattern collection that works. Choose patterns from each end of the slider and mix up the pattern scales.
When creating a pattern collection for multiple cushions, you are best to repeat patterns rather than have every cushion in a different pattern. So if you need 8 cushions, you may choose a pattern collection of 4 and have 2 of each pattern.
Of course, recipes can always be changed and customised so feel free to experiment, but these pattern recipes will get you started. You can add your own flair!
Popular Pattern Combinations
Sometimes even when you understand how to mix and match patterns, you can still be unsure so we're sharing our Top 4 pattern combinations that work.
Found one you like? Don't worry about the colours. Just look at the patterns. You can change the colours and pattern scales to suit your room.
You may also like to read:
How to Design your own Custom Cushion
How to Choose the Right Cushion Insert
or if you are already confident with colour and pattern start browsing our Fabrics or Custom Cushion Collection.