Picking Fabric Patterns.

Picking one fabric that you really love isn’t difficult. Selecting all the other patterns and colors around it is the hard part. The key is to combine small and large scale patterns with one or two common colors throughout. Using only large prints creates competition, and only small prints can look busy and ineffective. Don’t forget to consider how much of each fabric will be visible. When putting your palette together, fold the samples into proportional pieces so you can get an idea about their actual impact. Also, try holding a pattern away from the bunch if the fabrics won’t appear side by side in your final design.

More ways to use various pattern scales in your design:

Medium Scale Patterns

A medium scale pattern is best combined with solids and textures. A very small or tight pattern that reads as a solid from a distance will work with a medium pattern as well.

Tiny Prints

Think subtle like a Swiss dot or herringbone. From a distance, these patterns look solid but can add a layer of interest. Use these with large scale and medium patterns to add depth and sophistication.


A common color throughout is key, but use various tones to escape a matchy-matchy look. For example, use ochre and canary yellow together rather than the same yellow tone for each pattern.

Combining patterns can be complex. It’s hard to visualize how a little swatch of fabric will look combined with the others. Just remember that pattern scales should be different (large vs. small repeats) but colors tones should be similar.