Pattern Play: A Glossary of Fabric Pattern Names

Have you ever found a fabric you liked, but didn’t know how to describe it to find it again? We’ve all heard of florals, stripes and geometrics but fabric styles don’t stop there. I’ve been learning a lot about fabrics lately, including names for patterns that I never knew! So I’ve complied a list of some common patterns, their names, and a little bit about them.

1. Damask (DAM-usk): This elegant design gets its name from the city of Damascus, a major trading post along the Silk Road where fabric of this style was made and traded to the West. Damask fabrics feature patterns of flowers, fruit and other designs and are usually monochromatic. Damask designs are popular today in wallpaper, table linens, and upholstery.

2. Matelassé (Mat-la-SAY): The word “matelassé” is a French term meaning quilted or padded. This makes sense, as a matelassé fabric is a design with a raised pattern that appears padded, quilted or embossed. While they appear padded, matelassé fabrics don’t actually contain any padding. Matelassés are typically solid colors and are great for pillows, bedding, and more.

3. Quatrefoil (KAT-ruh-foil or KWA-tra-foil): This pattern comes from Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The name quatrefoil is Latin for “four leaves” and the design resembles a four-leaf clover. There are many variations of the quatrefoil, including the “barbed quatrefoil,” which is squarer and the “slipped” quatrefoil, which has a small stem. This design is popular in window treatments, pillows and wallpaper.

4. Houndstooth: This classic check was first worn by shepherds in the Scottish lowlands. It is a two-tone pattern that combines dark and light yarns in uneven rows. The uneven pattern results in a design that looks similar to a dog’s tooth, hence the name houndstooth. Houndstooth is popular in jackets and clothing but is also great for upholstery.

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5. Suzani / 6. Chevron / 7. Paisley

5. Suzani (Su-ZA-nee): A traditional Middle Eastern pattern, suzani textiles were embroidered by brides as part of their dowry and presented to the groom on the wedding day. Suzani fabrics are usually a large-scale design with sun and moon disk (medallion), floral, and vine motifs. Today’s suzani designs are usually loom woven or printed. This style is popular for bedding and window treatments.

6. Chevron: A zigzag stripe pattern, chevrons have been popular in the U.S. for decades. The term chevron comes from the inverted V shape used in military insignia. In fact, the design goes back as far as 1800 B.C. on pottery and rock carvings. Chevrons are a fun, playful fabric for pillows, window treatments and much more.

7. Paisley: The paisley motif resembles a droplet, teardrop or tadpole and is of Persian and Indian origin. The British were introduced to the paisley design in the 18th century when the British East India Company brought back shawls with the design. The pattern got its name from the town of Paisley, Scotland, where textiles with the design were produced. Paisley continues to be popular today in formal styles as well a playful bright colors, perfect for kids’ rooms.

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8. Ogee / 9. Jacobean / 10. Ikat

8. Ogee (OH-gee): Ogee gets its name from the architectural arch it resembles. The arch is formed at the connection of two, mirror image, elongated S shapes. Ogee patterns can sometimes resemble an onion. This curvy pattern is often used in bedding and rugs.

9. Jacobean: These patterns date back to the 17th century during the reign of King James I of England. A common motif in Jacobean fabrics is branches ornamented in color with fruits, flowers, and/or birds. They can have an old English feel to them, but many designers are now giving Jacobean elements a modern flair. Jacobean fabrics are often seen on upholstery or window treatments.

10. Ikat (EE-cot): Ikat refers to a dyeing and weaving method rather than the pattern itself. The term ikat comes from the Malay word “mengikat” meaning, “to tie.” The centuries old process includes tying the threads before they are dyed to achieve designs that are then woven into the fabric. This method gives ikat fabrics their signature blurred edges. Most ikats today are actually ikat-inspired prints.

Bring these patterns into your home with some new home décor projects. Check out our large selection of fabric by the yard including all of these styles at www.sailrite.com.

What patterns are you loving right now? I’ve been really drawn to the ikats and quatrefoils lately.

6 comments
  1. You are spectacular. I have been looking for this information for what feels like my whole life! THANK YOU!

    • Nikki said:

      Thanks! Glad we could help!

  2. Erin said:

    Thanks for the information

  3. Casper Larsson said:

    Hi,

    I need help with a pattern I cant figure out. I have a picture of it, can I send it to you and maybe you know what it is named?

    My email is casper.larsson@hotmail.se

    Thanks!

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Casper,

      I sent you an email. Hopefully I can help!

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