How to Coordinate Fabric Patterns
Decorating a room in your house can feel daunting if you are unsure of how to coordinate fabric patterns. You may be worried about the room looking too busy, or your selected colors will clash. Sure, you could always play it safe and go for a monochrome or neutrals-only look, but where’s the fun in that?
If you’re a fan of color and patterns but aren’t sure how to use them in your decor, you have come to the right place. We are here to break down the process for you step by step, so you will feel confident in no time. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to coordinate fabric patterns.
Coordinating Fabrics for Quilting, Sewing & Home Décor Patterns
1. Assess the fabric selection you already have
Let’s say you want to decorate your living room and choose coordinating fabrics for the curtains, throw pillows, and furniture upholstery. Before you make any decision or even look for inspiration, it’s a good idea to stop and take a look at what you have to work with! If you’re like us, you have a large stash of fabric waiting to shine.
Start by choosing the inspiration for your room. It could be the color of the walls or a fun print. Also think about whether or not you have any special requirements for the fabric you use. For instance, if your fluffy white Great Pyrenees sheds up a storm, you may want to use lighter colored fabrics to disguise stray hairs. If you have a toddler, you may want darker fabrics to hide accidental juice spills. Assessing function and fashion is key to coordinating fabric patterns that stand the test of time.
2. Choose a color scheme
Next, you need to choose a color scheme. This is the fun part, so pull out your Pinterest boards or favorite magazines for inspiration! You’ll want to choose a color scheme with just two or three colors. If you are nervous, it’s best to keep it simple and choose just two colors and a neutral. You can always add more colors to your palette later.
If you want to be bold, consider colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel, like purple and yellow (or lilac and cornsilk if you prefer). These are called complementary colors and have the most contrast. For something more subtle, choose adjacent hues on the color wheel, like green and blue, or red and orange.
3. Choose your primary fabric
The primary printed fabric you base your color palette on is the most important. Find something multicolor that has all three colors from your color scheme in it. If you struggled with step two, you can also find a fabric you love first and then pull the color palette from there. This fabric is what ties the room and other patterns together, so you’ll want to use it prominently. Consider using this fabric for your curtains or furniture upholstery to create a focal point in the room.
For an example, let’s say you wanted a color scheme with lots of contrast, so you choose hot pink and green as your colors and white as your neutral. After browsing through the Little Fabric Shop’s selection, you choose Bossy - Meadow (pictured above) from Anna Maria Horner’s Bright Eyes collection, which incorporates all three colors (plus a couple others). You can always Google color palettes too or use a tool like Canva to get off to the right start.
4. Choose your supporting fabrics
Here we are: the reason you’re reading this article! Let’s talk about how to coordinate fabric patterns.
The key here is variety. Now that you have chosen your number one fabric, you’ll want to choose two or three other fabrics that tie into the first, but all look fairly different from each other. You can find fabrics that go together with some of the following tips:
Choose one fabric that is stripe-like and one that is dot-like. These could be literal stripes or polka dots, but more likely, they will be patterns that are...stripe-ish. Dot-esque. This keeps the fabrics looking distinct from each other so that meld well instead of clash or compete for attention.
Choose some fabrics that are organic (usually nature themed with more complex patterns) and some that are geometric (tessellated patterns, usually repeating a simple geometric shape).
Choose fabrics that use different scales. In other words, use some patterns with small and medium prints, and some with larger prints. Typically you will choose one fabric with a large print and have the rest be small or medium.
Choose complementary textures. Texture is just as important as print. Don’t choose all shiny or flat fabric, for instance. Maybe throw in something plush, tweed, or linen to add variety.
If you still feel unsure of how to coordinate fabric patterns without having them clash, you can always choose several fabrics from the same collection!
Continuing the example from step three, let’s choose some fabrics that go together well with the Bossy - Meadow fabric. Bossy is a large print and organic, so we want to find some fabrics that use the same color scheme but from other pattern categories.
Century Prints Hopscotch - Passion from Alison Glass has hot pink and white, two of our chosen colors. It is a small print that could be described as dot-like, and it is geometric. Do you feel like you are getting the hang of how to coordinate fabric patterns? Let’s try and find another one.
Here’s another Alison Glass fabric, Stripes - Lichen, that will look great with the bossy fabric. These green stripes fit in our color scheme and match the greens from Bossy, plus the stripe pattern contrasts the dot-like Hopscotch pattern and the organic Bossy pattern, so our collection is starting to have some good variety.
Now if you would rather take the guesswork out of coordinating patterns, you could always just choose…
Ready to try matching fabric yourself? We hope you learned a lot about how to coordinate fabric patterns. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, and some rules are made to be broken! So have fun experimenting and finding the perfect patterns for your unique taste.