Guide to Common Fabric Patterns and Types

Polyester, Fleece and Vinyl Coated Fabric
Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

If you’ve ever wondered what exactly ikat or houndstooth are, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of fabric patterns and types commonly used in the fashion and interior decorating world. Some of them are very well known—like stripes—while others are more obscure, such as fleur-de-lis or ditzy.

Take a look at 30 common fabric patterns used in the fashion industry and interior decorating.

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    Basketweave pattern throw pillow

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    As the name suggests, a basketweave pattern looks like the crisscross composition of a basket. The design can literally be woven with ribbon, or merely printed on the fabric, but the overall effect is symmetrical and somewhat like a checkerboard. You can find this classic design in just about any color combination from neutral to bright. Basketweave is a great pattern for any contemporary style.

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    Brocade throw pillow

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    Used quite a bit for upholstery and drapes, as well as bedding and fabric accessories, brocade is a heavy material woven on a Jacquard loom. A true brocade has a raised design that looks embroidered​ but is actually woven into the fabric. Brocade is often made of silk or satin, and frequently incorporates metallic threads or similar decorative touches. The colors are typically somewhat subdued, and the fabric is often used in traditional decorating schemes.

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    Red and white checked throw pillow

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    Like a checkerboard, a checked pattern is a simple design that alternates two different colored squares. Most of the time, one of the colors is white, but you can find checked fabrics in a wide range of color combinations. Checked designs are very versatile, but work especially well with country looks.

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    Chevron throw pillow

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    Chevron is a pattern of zigzagging stripes, typically in two alternating colors. As with checked designs, one of the colors is usually white. Chevron has a fun, contemporary flair and the energetic lines add a touch of pizzazz to an otherwise sedate room.

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    Chinoiserie throw pillow

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    The often elaborate designs of chinoiserie (pronounced "sheen-whaz-a-ree") are western takes on daily life in long-ago China. Colors and fabrics range widely, as do the designs. Florals, birds, fishermen, boats, and children are especially popular themes. Chinoiserie works well with traditional styles or Asian-inspired decor.

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    Red chintz throw pillows

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    Popular in Grandma's day, but making something of a comeback, chintz is a cotton fabric that's been glazed, resulting in a high shine. Yesterday's chintz often featured large florals, but today, you can find many solid colors, especially deep jewel tones. Use chintz in a traditional room, or to add a fun touch of vintage style to any decorating theme.

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    Pink damask throw pillow

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    Similar to brocade, damask is woven on a Jacquard loom and has a raised design woven into the fabric, usually a floral pattern. It's often made with luxury materials like silk. Typically, damask fabric has a sheen, and it adds an expensive-looking touch to a room. Damask is generally single color or tone-on-tone but occasionally is more colorful. This somewhat formal design works best in an equally formal or traditional room. 

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    Ditzy floral pattern orange throw pillow

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    Also spelled ditsy, this is any cheerful pattern with small elements scattered across the fabric. Those elements might be flowers, geometric shapes, or small figures. Ditzy fabrics are usually quite colorful, and they work well with any casual decorating style.

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  • 09 of 30

    Flame Stitch

    Flame stitch throw pillow

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    There's a definite retro appeal to flame stitch design—it was very popular in the 1970s. The pattern is a closely spaced series of flame-like, jagged lines. Unlike chevron, flame stitch's zigs and zags are usually thin and can vary in height. It's a fun pattern for a contemporary room, and a must-have if you love all things retro.

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    Fleur-de-lis throw pillow

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    A symbol of European monarchy, particularly French monarchy, since medieval times, the fleur-de-lis represents a lily. The stylized design shows off three or four petals with a band near the bottom. It's a very formal, traditional design, but is often combined with other elements, making it a nice accent to just about any style of decor. Most often, you'll find this pattern used in a neutral palette

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    Floral throw pillow

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    Floral patterns range from tiny to large-scale, realistic to abstract, casual to formal, and colorful to monochromatic. While there's a floral pattern suitable for every decorating style, floral designs are a hallmark of cottage decor. Depending on the style of the floral pattern, you can mix-and-match florals with just about any other pattern.

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    Retro geometric throw pillow

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    "Geometric" is a catch-all term for any design that incorporates geometric shapes, such as circles, squares, triangles, or ovals. The design might be symmetrical and regular, or quite abstract. Geometric patterns are very versatile, but look especially striking in contemporary spaces, or with mid-century modern or other retro styles.

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    Gingham throw pillow

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    This country classic shows off white plus another color that's woven into a checkerboard pattern. The difference between gingham and checks is that with gingham, there are intermediate squares where white lightens the intensity of the contrasting color by half. While gingham is very common in country decor, it's a good choice for any casual decorating style and mixes well with many other designs. 

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    Greek Key

    Greek key throw pillow

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    Greek key design—sometimes called Greek fret—is an interlocking pattern of squares or rectangles, typically drawn from a continuous line. This ancient pattern has stood the test of time—you'll often find it used as a border around rugs, pillows, drapes or bedding. It's a great look in any contemporary room.

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    Harlequin pattern throw pillow

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    A harlequin pattern is basically a checked pattern, but with diamonds instead of squares. Often, there's a small dot where the points of the diamonds meet. Harlequin can be very colorful, or a simple design of white plus another color. It's a fun pattern for a contemporary, glam, eclectic, or Parisian room. 

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    Herringbone pattern throw pillow

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    Looking somewhat like a fish's skeleton, herringbone is similar to chevron but differentiated by the breaks between the zigs and the zags. The breaks can be actual lines or thin gaps between the zigzags of the pattern. It's also typically much thinner than a chevron design. Herringbone is a great pattern for a contemporary room. 

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    Houndstooth throw pillow

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    Houndstooth is a classic in the fashion world, but also a classy touch to just about any interior. It's a checked pattern with somewhat abstract, irregular points on the corners of the squares. If you're imaginative, the design looks like a dog's teeth. Generally, houndstooth is black and white or another combination of neutral colors. Try it in your contemporary or eclectic room. 

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    Ikat design throw pillow.

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    Pronounced "ee-caught," this material is not so much a pattern as a method of dying and weaving fabric. The result is a geometric design that looks somewhat stretched and blurred around the edges. You'll find ikat fabrics in a wide range of shapes and color combinations. What they all share in common is a global vibe that looks great in contemporary design schemes.

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    Jacquard print throw pillow

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    Jacquard (pronounced "ja-kard") is an umbrella term for fabrics woven on a Jacquard loom, which was invented by Joseph Jacquard and first used in 1801. Fabrics woven on the loom have a raised pattern that looks embroidered but is actually woven into the design. Brocade and damask are sometimes referred to as Jacquard, as they are both created on that type of loom. These fabrics are rather formal and traditional in style, and usually fairly subdued in color. 

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    Leopard print throw pillow

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    Leopard print is, of course, modeled on the gorgeous coat of the ​wildcat. As a fabric design, it adds a sexy touch to any room—even more so in the bedroom. It's sometimes confused with cheetah print, which is made up of black dots, rather than the open, irregular circles found on a leopard's coat. Try leopard print anywhere you'd like to add a sexy edge. 

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    Blue and red medallion throw pillow

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    This popular fabric features large, elaborate medallions, which are usually round, although they might also be diamond-shaped or oval. The pattern often incorporates floral or foliage designs along with geometric shapes. A medallion is symmetrical; you can cut it through the center and have two matching halves. This versatile design works in any style room and can be found in just about any color combination.

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    Moroccan Lattice

    Moroccan lattice throw pillow

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    There are many lattice designs in the decorating world, but one that is especially in vogue is the Moroccan lattice. Like all lattice or trellis, patterns, it is a grid-like design formed by interlocking lines. The Moroccan trellis is distinguished by its four sides: Two are rounded and two are pointed. Moroccan lattice is often confused with quatrefoil, which is very similar but has four rounded sides. It's a great pattern for contemporary rooms. 

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    Ogee design throw pillow

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    Pronounced "oh gee," the fabric pattern looks something like an onion or a diamond that is rounded on two sides. It has a Middle Eastern vibe but has been used widely throughout the world for centuries. You'll find ogee patterns in a wide range of fabrics and colors, so choose the design that best complements your bedroom's theme and palette. It complements contemporary, global, boho, and eclectic styles. 

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    Paisley throw pillow

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    Originally a Persian design, paisley became hugely popular throughout Europe in the 1600s and takes its name from a town in Scotland. The teardrop-shaped, intricately designed pattern now has a retro feel, as it was the height of fashion during the 1970s, but it adds a touch of interest and color to any contemporary style.

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    Polka Dot

    Polka dot throw pillow

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    The cheerful, familiar polka dot pattern is an evenly spaced array of same-sized dots. Use it in a child's bedroom or in your own; it's extremely versatile and works well with most other patterns. You'll find polka dots in just about any color scheme you can imagine. 

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    Striped throw pillow

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    The vanilla of the decorating world, stripes are about as basic as you can get. There are many variations, including awning stripes, which are broad stripes sometimes separated by thinner bands, and barcode stripes, which are stripes of varying widths. You can combine a striped design with just about any other pattern without fear of clashing.

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    Tartan throw pillow

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    Traditionally, tartans were designs woven in wool and used to designate the various Scottish clans. The pattern is formed with stripes of different widths and colors duplicated on both the vertical and horizontal axis. Plaids that do not exactly duplicate the pattern on both the horizontal and vertical axis are not tartans, they're just regular plaids. Use a tartan fabric to warm up your winter bedroom, or any time of year in a traditional or formal space. 

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    Toile throw pillow

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    A popular design from 18th-century France, toile (pronounced "twall") is a monochromatic design printed on white, and depicting scenes of country life, flowers or people engaged in everyday activities. It's a bit formal but works well with many other patterns. Toile is a hallmark of French country style

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    Yellow lattice throw pillow

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    There are many variations of trellis patterns, but they all are formed with interlocking lines that resemble a fence or trellis. Most often, the fabric's palette is limited to two colors. Trellis patterns of all types make great accent elements like cozy throws or curtains.

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    Zebra print throw pillow

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    The black-and-white color scheme works like a neutral, the irregular stripes are easy to combine with other patterns, and the touch of wild style adds a bit of sexy fun to any decorating theme. In a child's or teen's bedroom, try a colorful zebra print for extra whimsy.