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Most Common Directional Pattern Repeat Types

As pattern designers, we're always excited to work with patterns and prints. And designing fabric patterns for use in fashion and home decor is a great chance to expand our marketable skillset. 

You can lay out pattern repeats in many different ways. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks. One of the more critical things to consider when designing a repeating pattern is how you want the motifs to be oriented. Some are more suited to particular styles than others, depending on the motifs and desired look. The patterns direction you decide on will also depend on what you, as a surface pattern designer, want to do with the completed design. 

Let's take a closer look at each of these common pattern repeats!

all over Layout

All over layouts have motifs and colors covering the entire surface, with no particular direction to it. The pattern tile may be a full or half-dropped repeat, which works well for garments and furniture without being engineered.

One Way / Directional Layout

One-way (or directional) layouts can only be utilized in one direction, making these patterns more limiting when working with them and typically unattractive if turned upside down.

two directional  Layout

A two-directional surface pattern repeat employs motifs with a strong horizontal or vertical orientation. Two directional designs are reversible; in other words, you can turn and view the pattern from its top or its bottom.

Guitar 2-directional black and white seamless pattern.
Pineapples, multicolored, 2-directional repeat pattern.
Easter Bunny 2-directional repeat pattern in orange and purple.

Multi-directional  Layout

You can view multi-directional pattern repeats from any angle. The pattern design does not have a top, bottom, left, or right since the arrangement of the motifs is facing in different directions. Fabric rolls benefit from multi-directional designs since they may be cut and utilized from any point, reducing fabric waste.

Detailed tropic pink butterfly repeat pattern.
Cute black and pink leopard spots pattern.
Goldfish multi-directional pattern on blue.

Free Flowing  Layout

This layout has motifs arranged asymmetrically, with large areas of background exposed.


Engineered / Placement Layout

You can control the artwork and its placement on the product with an engineered or placement print. T-shirts are an excellent example of a product with engineered images. Engineered prints allow you to design for a specific end purpose at the appropriate scale for the required product.

Fabric design for Sport t-shirt, Soccer jersey uniform mockup.
3D birds and flower background wallpaper design.
Pattern Placement Floral Embroidery Design.

We encourage you to play with these different layout styles to create many kinds of patterns.

Looking for the Most Common Surface Pattern Repeats?

Produce dynamic patterns with these eleven most common surface pattern repeats:

1) Full Drop Repeat also called a Block Repeat and Straight Repeat

2) Half Drop Pattern Repeat

3) Brick Pattern Repeat

4) Tossed / Random Pattern Repeat

5) Diamond Pattern Repeat

6) Ogee Pattern Repeat

7) Stripes Pattern Repeat

8) Scale Pattern Repeat

9) Mirror Repeat Pattern (Full Drop)

10) Mirror Repeat Pattern (Half Drop)

11) 4-Way-Mirror Pattern Repeats (Turn-Over)

Looking for the Most Common Pattern Design Ideas?

To get ideas flowing on possible patterns, check out these eight Motif and Subject Matter themes:

1) Floral Pattern Design

2) Geometric Pattern Design

3) Paisley Pattern Design

4) Dots Pattern Design

5) Ethnic Pattern Design

6) Toile du Jouy Pattern Design

7) Stripe Pattern Design

8) Conversational / Novelty Pattern Design

For more pattern design ideas, see our favorite Spoonflower designers here.

Pro Tip - Build Interest

Try combining two of the pattern repeats to create one single design. For example, layer floral prints over a bold geometric for a more complex look. Experiment with all the repeats and create your combinations!