Raquel from Cutielandia talks us through the basics of matching fabric designs and gives us an insider’s guide to creating a co-ordinated pattern collection.
Plus she shares an exclusive sneak peek of Cutielandia’s new pattern collection featuring co-ordinating seamless fabric designs.
Expert Guest Blogger Bio: Cutielandia
Seamless Pattern Designer Raquel heads up Cutielandia design studio and it is the product of four years’ of Raquel’s freelancing with various print studios around the world, building a portfolio of artwork for fashion prints. She explains: “This phase of my design career was really educational for me as I got to try my hand at many different styles and themes I wouldn’t have thought of myself.
“Creating Cutielandia happened very quickly back in May 2020 when I came across a number of independent UK shops selling children’s handmade clothes on Instagram and realised that many of my portfolio designs could be used and adapted to this niche market. With Covid under way, there was never a better time to start my own little online design studio.
“The next logical step was creating my own online space to make it even easier to sell my designs. I’ve worked on the finishing touches during Christmas and now I’m really excited to share some of the workings behind creating a collection that you can now shop on cutielandia.com.”
So, what's a pattern collection and how do you match those fabrics like a professional? Here’s Raquel to tell us more.
A pattern collection is basically a group of matching or co-ordinating designs for fabric that work together to produce a cohesive look. When you make an outfit the different matching fabrics you use, for example for the main fabric and the cuffs or sleeves, make up your fabric collection.
It can consist of any number of related designs with a main “Hero” print and a set of co-ordinating prints or plain fabrics. The main or Hero print is usually the focal point and has all the colours and motifs created for the collection, whilst the co-ordinate prints are made with a more limited range of motifs and colours that tie in with that central print design. The scale of these is usually smaller too so it’s not in conflict with the Hero design, which should be the design that draws you in.
How do you match a Hero print with other designs?
The process, for me as a designer, starts after the Hero print is complete. I begin by somewhat “deconstructing” the Hero design and pick one or two elements from it to create a new design. Co-ordinate prints need to be simpler designs and have fewer colours whilst retaining a kinship with the main design. So picking some of the same colours is important and in my opinion limiting this to just two or three colours from the main design is best to avoid clashing with the main course, so to speak. The same principles apply when matching these fabric designs for your project
Matching with Block Colours
If you’re simply looking to find a plain fabric to match your Hero design, looking for the most prominent colour is the way to go but you could also try a plain fabric in a complementary colour. Bear in mind that in colour theory, “complementary” means something different to what the term is normally used for. For example, the complementary colour for red is green, not pink or orange which you might expect. If your Hero design has soft pastel colours, you probably don’t want to use a bright primary colour plain fabric with it. But if you’re going for strong colours, then complementary colours would work well as they help each other pop.
Matching with Patterned Designs
To launch my website I created a collection called “Dance of the Fairies” in five colourways with two co-ordinate prints (the Hero designs are available as standalone purchases, with the co-ordinate prints as non-exclusives. This allows for more flexibility so people can pick and mix what they want so there’s something for everyone).
For one of the co-ordinates to pair with this print I decided to go with a textural design. Here I used a splash paint brush, which is the same painting technique used in the Hero print. This co-ordinate is a deconstructed variation on the idea of the background of the main print. It uses some of the same colours and mirrors the techniques used in the Hero print to tie both designs together. As I mentioned before, the design elements are smaller so they complement the main fabric print rather than taking attention away from it. Using a variation on the design theme ties the prints together and unifies the overall colour scheme. Adding a matching solid colour to your pattern collection works in the same way, by taking one or two colours from your Hero print and/or the co-ordinate print and showing it off.
For the second co-ordinate, I created a stripe print with a faded effect which was done using the same type of brush as before. This type of co-ordinate is more of what I’d call a “filler” print and could work really well for, say linings or cuffs. For both designs I made sure I stayed within the colour range used in the Hero print. The stripe has the same sort of feel as the other two, but uses just two of the pattern collection’s colours to make a sort of base design that can fill in areas such as linings without being too bold. The lines of the stripe also add a new shape and dimension to the pattern collection. Filler-type designs, like stripes, spots or stars, can replace solid or plain colours by doing the same job.
Colours That Speak to You
I think this approach of thinking in collections is good for making children’s clothes that really go together. It’s a good way to create a kind of capsule wardrobe with pieces that mix and match well together across a range of items. It’s also really suited to handmade shops because with a collection you can really present the theme of the design with “consistency” in the makes in your range.
From a shop’s point of view and from the perspective of a sewer, choosing a collection can also be more time and cost effective. If everything is part of a capsule range, there’s no scouting around for items of clothing that might match – this applies to shop customers and to small people getting themselves dressed in the morning.
If everything is in one place, there’s no searching for a sort of matching co-ordinate design somewhere else, all the hard work is done for you. Going forwards, I plan to create more artwork with collections in mind and have more consistency colour-wise so that Cutielandia has a more recognisable colour identity. To do this I want to source a number of colours that speak to me and use them not just across one collection but a number of designs throughout the year. I think this will help develop a more recognisable design handwriting and in turn help my customers so that they know in advance what colours they can safely pre-order plain fabric in; a win-win situation.
At the end of the day, sewing is all about using colours and designs that really speak to you.
Find out more:
- To find out more about Cutielandia’s new co-ordinating design collection and their range of other designs, visit www.cutielandia.com. You’ll also find some exclusive and non-exclusive designs and if you’re after something truly unique and specially tailored to your needs, you can request a custom design from just £30 (Terms & Conditions apply).
- Moonbow Fabrics are the first to stock one of Cutielandia’s new matching pattern collections, designed exclusively for us. Our Narwhals with spotted and striped co-ordinate fabrics will be available this month, in our new Matching Collections fabric section.