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Some of the biggest pattern design mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that I see which stop people from creating successful repeating patterns.

We’re going to look at some of the biggest pattern repeat mistakes.

Creating a technical repeat

The first and most important step is to make sure you have technically repeated your pattern out properly. This means that when you create your repeat that all of the elements match up perfectly on all sides.

If you forget to repeat one tiny little element, it will become really obvious when you repeat out your design at a larger length. For example, in a length of fabric, you would be able to notice that one spot where your design wasn’t repeating properly.

Most people get this part, right, but what they actually struggle with is thinking about how the actual pattern looks and getting the pattern to look in seamless in terms of how the motifs are placed.

Tram tracks

One of the things that I often see in designs is tram tracking. This is where there are unintentional spaces or gaps that are obvious around the edge of the pattern. This results in the design not looking seamless.  This is particularly a common problem for those just starting to learn how to create pattern repeats. It is an easy fix though. If you rearrange your elements and move them around to fill in those spaces you will be able to help it look more seamless.

Elements not relating

The other thing that I commonly see is people not considering how the elements of the design work together. They will generally put a whole lot of different elements within the design, but they don’t think about the relationship between each of the elements and how they work together. So how does that flower work with that leaf? Are they working harmoniously together? Are they working to tell a story together? It’s really important to consider why each of the elements are being used and how each of the elements work together. By thinking about this, you will be able to greatly improve the end result.


Colour is another elements that people often get wrong. It’s really important to not only have a resolved colour palette but also to think about how the colours within your palette work together. You may have some colours that work beautifully within the palette, but when placed next to each other, don’t work quite as well. So there may be colours within your colour palette that work better when they’re not placed side by side. So thinking about your color palette and making sure you have a really good depth of color within the palette will really, really help.

Another mistake is to not think about having a range of tones in your colour palette and this results in a very high contrast design. Sometimes it may be the effect your after but more often than not, it hasn’t been something that has been well resolved and considered. Think about having  some lighter and darker tones as well as some highlight and base colours and then think about how you’re going to use those colours.


It’s also important to think about scale within your design. Playing with scale will help you create depth within a design. Think about enlarging or reducing elements slightly to help a bit more depth and interest.

Too many elements

Lastly, I often see people simply adding too many elements. They had lots and lots of elements without thinking about how they relate to one and other and their purpose. Sometimes by simply removing a few elements, you can create a more successful and well balanced design.


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