The other day I heard the word “ditsy” in relation to fabric and wondered, “Does that mean ditsy, as in ditzy, or scatterbrained? How does that design work?!” Some internet sleuthing came up with little as to whether the term to describe a person (which can have a negative connotation) is related to the term used for a fabric pattern.
Some places, like Pattern and Design, call this a “tossed/random surface pattern repeat”, so there are other names out there in use too!
So, while it can also mean something like scatterbrained when used to describe people, a ditsy pattern has two key characteristics to keep in mind: tiny and random. Like that time you tossed glitter or rice or something and thought about how cool it looked before you realized you now have to clean it all up!
A more cultural touchstone of the design is the small floral patterns that covered a million ruffled dresses in the 1980s and ’90s, where there was less emphasis on strict gridded patterns, making room for a gentle playfulness to emerge. However, as our friends at Seamwork mention in this fantastic post on the history of floral prints, ditsy prints were popular in the 1960s as well.
What makes ditsy patterns especially fun is that they lead with a sense of natural whimsy over perfection, making them ideal for projects like baby bonnets, masks and quilts, where pops of playfulness add to their overall charm.
As ditsy patterns are non-directional and don’t need to be lined up a specific way before cutting, they are great to use in projects without a designated top or bottom, such as quilts. Having the freedom to use any cut of your fabric leads to less overall waste, too!
The possibilities are endless (and also random, apparently)! If you need help turning it into a seamless repeat pattern look no further than our design tutorials!Explore Seamless Repeat Tutorials
Betsy is a writer and stitcher who joined the Brand Marketing team in July 2021. In her spare time, she talks to people about their choice to make things by hand and related lessons learned for her project Dear Textiles. She also aims to befriend all the dogs she meets and is forever looking for the perfect dress pattern with pockets.