This Me-Made-May we’re bringing in a pattern mixing pro for a lesson on mixing and matching prints! Not one to shy away from bold handmade garments, Spoonflower designer Katie Kortman is here to show you how to start playing with patterns in your wardrobe.
Hi! I’m Katie Kortman and I have a thing for prints. I love simple prints, bold prints, print-on-print, mixed prints that look great together and mixed prints that totally clash. I have found the more you wear prints and experiment with them, the more courageous you become. Today I am here to give you some fun tips for doing your own print-mixing! These can be used in your garment sewing but also in quilting, home decor, and craft projects like these DIY headbands!
Let’s start off simple: Print-on-print. Because Spoonflower has so many fabric types to choose from you can actually make a shirt out of the same print you make pants out of! I did that when I used my design Feathers in Paradise in Poly Crepe de Chine for my Wilder Gown top and paired it with the same print but on the Dogwood Denim™ and sewed up the Philippa Pants. Even though you’re not technically print mixing, this is a fun way to play with print that is a little less “scary”.
Bonus points if you can spot the second design in this photo! I painted a canvas to create an additional print for the backdrop.
Play with Scale
An easy way to play with scale is to use the same print but in different sizes. Many designers on Spoonflower have uploaded multiple scales of one design but if they haven’t, you can always message them and ask! I have done this for people with many of my prints and a great way to get both sized prints on one yard is to do the Fill- A-Yard® option. That is what I did for the swimsuit below.
You can also play with scale using different prints. I like to pair large scale prints with different smaller scale prints. Here are some examples to get you inspired!
This larger Painted Rainbow Blue print pairs nicely with my Jordanian Scarf (which I bought in Petra!) because the woven print of the scarf is small. Both have lots of color, but the second print is a smaller scale and almost reads as a solid from afar. That is why large and small prints are great together. One becomes dominant and the other becomes a “rest” for the eyes.
In the example below the prints aren’t different sizes exactly, but I only used a small amount of one print (at the collar), and lots of the other. This is more “proportion” than scale, but you can see how giving more size/scale/space to one print and just using another in small amounts as an accent is a great way to use two different prints.
I love how Deb from @3oclockstyle pairs her large stripe sweater with the smaller dot print on bottom. There are similar colors as well, which also helps tie it together.
In this dress from Farm Rio, there are thin stripes, thick stripes, mulit-colored stripes and black and white stripes. They played with the scale of the stripes, the direction, and color.
Which leads us to our next tip:
Mix and Match Patterns with the Help of Color
Color is a great way to tie differing prints together, or you can use the same print but in different colors. Either way, color is another element you can play with when print-mixing.
One way you can do this is to use the same print in different colors. Gorman Clothing used the same stripe in different colors, and in the other dress the same abstract shapes in different colorways. The stripes are cut on the grain and on the bias (diagonal) to add interest.
Photos by Gorman
Spoonflower designers often have the same print in many colorways. If I were to recreate the striped dress I would use the Fill-A-Yard Cheater Quilt template in Petal Signature Cotton™ featuring a collection of the same print in different colorways like this one! Here is a shirt I created with a few colors of my painted stripe prints.
Another way to use color is to find a common color in different prints. If your prints have one or more colors in common it ties them together. Here are some examples:
These examples from the brand Farm Rio show how great different prints look together when they have a color (or a few!) in common. One dress uses the same color but with different shapes, and the other looks like a tank and skirt where both use red-orange!
Photos by Farm Rio
Below is an example of an Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™ dress from Andrea Jones. She used my Paper Cut Shapes and this Dash print that both had magenta and sky blue in them. I loved how she combined these two different prints together.
Mix Maximalist and Minimalist Patterns
I was so inspired by Andrea’s dress that I did something similar with two more of my prints. This dress combines two of my prints that coordinate in color, but also shows the idea of combining a busier print with a more minimalist design.
These three design combinations show how you could also combine a maximalist pattern with a minimalist design.
Katie’s Top Tips for Finding Coordinating Prints on Spoonflower
If you want to find prints with similar colors on Spoonflower you can use the color selector (go to “Fabric” in the menu, then click “by color”) or type in the names of the colors you’re looking for in the search bar. For instance you can search: Aqua, Green or Stripes, Aqua, Green. I did this to find all the examples shown from the Spoonflower Marketplace! I searched a keyword (like “geometric”) plus colors, or just colors to find prints that coordinated. Then I made a collection which you can find here. Once I had my collection I tried out the Fill-A-Yard just to see the prints side-by-side since I didn’t have them in my hands. It was easier for me to see what combos looked best, regardless of whether I was planning to order the Fill-A-Yard project. I highly recommend it!
Another easy way to find coordinating prints is to locate one print you like, and then search the shop of the designer who created it. If it was part of a collection, there will be others with similar colors! For example, Heather Dutton’s collection Aria features three different designs in three different colorways and scales.
If you are looking for large scale prints, add Large or Large Scale along with the color or design you’re looking for! Here’s what I found when searching for Large Scale Yellow designs.
I hope these tips help you out in your print-mixing adventures, and if you need more inspo just check me out on Instagram or my website! And for more color and print-mixing info, I have a PDF guide called Wear Happy Color to get you started!
Now that you’ve learned all the ways to incorporate prints into your wardrobe, head over to Katie’s post all about color theory!
About the Guest Author
Katie Kortman is a sewist, artist, and self-proclaimed dancing queen. Over the years she has sold her artwork in galleries, worked as a display artist for Anthropologie, taught high school art, had a handmade accessories company called Blue-Eyed Freckle, and mothered her four children.
Katie enjoys combining her passions into one by using her artwork to design fabric on Spoonflower, that she can then sew up into clothing (and DANCE). She blogs at katiekortman.com and over on Instagram you can find her @katiekortmanart where she dances around in her handmade wardrobe.