Five Ways to Create a Fabric Design!

DEC 5, 2014 updated Jun 2, 2021

12 Days of Design

Creating a fabric design can be as simple or complex as you'd like. There are a number of tools that you can use for textile design, some require no training at all, others are a bit more complicated. Take a look at five of our favorite ways to create inspired fabric designs!


Underwater Friends designed by Tara Put

Break out your watercolors and paint a simple motif. 

These Little PiggiesThese Little Piggies designed by Ms March Hare

Use public domain images to create a retro textile design.

Vintage ChevronVintage Chevron designed by Bliss 24

Your computer is an incredible design tool allowing you to make simple designs using straight lines or more complex images with extreme details. 

Doodles black and yellowDoodles Black and Yellow designed by Valentina Harper

Pens and markers are great tools for illustrating a simple or intricate pattern

Vintage PhotographsVintage Photographs designed by Victoria Golden

Old family photographs or your favorite shots from a recent vacation can be arranged in a collage for a personalized fabric! 

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Three white twin beds are next to each other in a bedroom with light purple blue wallpaper with white squiggly lines throughout. Two framed colorful prints are above each of the beds. Two white pillows are on each bed behind a green pillow with a white trellis design. Small bronze lamps with white lampshades are on either side of the middle bed. A small white dresser is to the right of the bed in the foreground, it has a light blue lamp on it with a white lampshade.

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Stephanie sits with a tablet on her lap with a drawing of green and red vegetables on a dark green background on it, she is surrounded by plants. A digital pen is in her hand, which sits on the right edge of the tablet.

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Five people stand at a white table looking at fabric selections in a fabric shop. The person on the left is looking at the top fabric in a stack of eight fabrics. The next two people are looking at a stack of the different fabrics. The fourth person is looking at the top fabric in a stack of two different fabrics. The last person is looking at the camera.

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  • The keyword in textiles is “tiles.” Whether you are designing symmetrical or asymmetrical stripes or plaids or motifs the pattern repeats in what are called tiles. In working with the actual textiles to create something the size of the “repeat” can be critical. In drapery and upholstery fabric you will see terms like ’14” repeat,’ meaning the pattern or center of the motif repeats every 14.” This is critical in the calculation of yardage needed and cutting of fabric so that the stripes or plaids match or the motif is centered properly. I would think that any program you are using on a Bamboo would have the “tile” option in it. I know I made tiles with my old Jasc Paint Shop Pro (before Corel bought it) and a Wacom Graphire. I can still use the program with Windows 8, although I have not set up the Graphire.

  • I would love to also know some favorite programs to use for making these designs – do you have any suggestions or a tutorial? I’d love to use my Bamboo tablet to design something, but I have no idea how to translate it into an overall fabric design 🙂 Thanks!