Mixing prints can make or break an outfit. It can be fun and it can be challenging. It is a matter of your own style, your comfortability, your ability to take a fashion risk, your confidence, and your own taste. Many years ago, mixing prints was taboo, it was considered atrocious but now you see it everywhere, even being done by the best designers on the runway.
Wearing mixed prints fashion is not for everyone, because you will draw attention to yourself; therefore, when you wear fashion that is made up of mixed prints – you must
HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH AND WALK WITH CONFIDENCE.
In Home decor we mix patterns all the time, but for fashion it is a little more difficult. In fashion you don’t have the large area to create a “breathing space” or “pause” between the prints, like you do in a room.
If you want to try mixing fabrics but don’t have the confidence, then start out slowly by mixing your accessories. For example, carry a patterned purse with a striped dress. Or animal print shoes with a pair of african print pants. Or like this picture, she has an animal print purse with a plaid skirt and a sweater wrapped around her waist, all in the same tones.
These are the guidelines that I have discovered by playing around with fabrics.
To start off – Choose one print you just love, then add more fabrics by using these guidelines.
Color – Stay in the colors of the print you just love. (If you know color theory you can deviate with different intensities, values, etc, but for most, staying in the colors of your print you love will be the easiest and the results will be the most successful.)
Theme – If you have a theme, like wildlife, victorian, gardens, patriotic, etc. choose fabrics that represent that theme.
Scale / Proportion – Vary your scale, size of the prints, you add. A good guideline is to think of print sizes in thirds. You have a large floral, think of it as 100% size, add another print that is 33% or 66% smaller in size. Also take in consideration the placement of the print, that it is in proportion with the outfit.
Weight and Texture of Fabric – It is easier to mix weights and textures of fabrics in Home Decor because they are not actually being sewn together. In fact, you want different weights and textures in Home Decor. But in fashion you must take these into consideration for the style of your outfit you are creating and how the seams will be sewn together, example you don’t want puckers and gathers where it should be a smooth seam. It can be done, like leather and lace, but take weight and texture into consideration.
Keep in mind the actual garment you are making and make sure your prints are in proportion to the pattern piece – example Dress with a shorter bodice, you would want a smaller print on the bodice and a little larger print on the bottom part. Bodice print one third (33%) the size of the larger print. This is not a true RULE, but it gives you a good guideline to go by.
This geometric design dress is a perfect example of Scale and Proportion. Beautifully done!
Vary your style or design of print – meaning if you have a floral you might add a stripe, plaid, geometric design, or even an animal print. All the same types of style (all florals) can work, but varying your styles makes the look more interesting.
If your original print is a floral, you can add a smaller floral into the mix as your third fabric. Or if it is a geometric shape, add a smaller geometric shape, etc.
Think of stripes as a neutral, this will help you add a stripe to anything.
In Home Decor odd numbers in prints works the best in a room, but in Fashion, two can be quite elegant. Three or more can be fun.
Following are examples of how to take these two prints and add more fabric prints to them. You will see how adding another print can change the look. BEWARE, it gets very hard to find that fourth and fifth print that will blend well with your colors, theme, and scale of fabric prints.
Three prints – Large floral with black background, a black and white houndstooth, and a pink batik. The batik brings out the pink in the floral and is still adding a soft print.
Four Prints – Large floral with black background, a black and white houndstooth, a pink batik, and a black and white damask has been added to the mix. The damask print works because it is still a floral theme, black and white and it is smaller in scale than the floral.
Here is adding a fifth pattern. Large floral with black background, a black and white houndstooth, a pink batik, a black and white damask, and another floral with a black background and same colors as the large floral print. This floral works because it is in the theme, colors are the same as the big floral, and the floral scale is smaller than the large floral.
When choosing another floral also take in consideration the types of flowers, shapes of flowers and the style of the flower. Example you wouldn’t want to mix a flower drawn in a victorian realism style with a flower drawn in a Picasso style.
The more patterns you use the harder it is to find that perfect one that will match all the colors, the theme and the scale needed.
Beyond five prints I would throw in a solid color and if you go beyond six, then YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. LOL
Learn to think outside the box, play with fabrics, experiment with textures. Animal prints work good with florals and leaves.
Think about nature and see all the patterns that are mixed together, the patterns may be plants, flowers, animals, birds, water, sand, nature of all kinds. See how they blend together in photos, then take that and find fabric that represents the nature you love. You are in control of your own designs, so have fun with it.
Be careful when mixing prints, because they can be tricky. My advise, is when you have your prints picked out step back, walk away and come back to look at them again.
Will it look like you are wearing your sofa?
Will it look like you are wearing your draperies, Ms. Scarlett?
Will it look like you are wearing a quilt?
All these things are beautiful in the right setting, but do you want to wear them??? If your answer is no to all these questions then you probably have a winner.
Have fun, and push your Creativity up a notch by Mixing Fabric Prints.
Disclosure – I did not make any of these clothes in this article, I found them on Pinterest