Stripes don’t have to be made with lines! If you want to make stripe block print repeats, grab a yardstick as a guide and create rows. You can make your stripes vertical, horizontal, or at an angle.
Use one block print stamp like I did on this hummingbird print, or combine them for a more complicated stripe pattern.
7. Border prints
Border prints typically have some sort of design that runs along the selvage. It could be on one or both of the selvages. I’ve actually never sewn with a true border print. The closest I’ve gotten was on this embroidered organza trench coat. That fabric had decorative scallops running along the selvages.
To make a border print repeat with block printing, make 2 horizontal rows along the edges of your fabric. Leave the space in between the rows completely open, or add a few impressions at regular intervals.
8. 2-direction prints
Directional prints are those irritating ones that can only be cut in one direction. You often see these in any kind of children’s prints. Cut them the right way, and you have nice little rows of happy dogs or unicorns. Cut them the wrong way and you have Humpty Dumpty defying gravity (totally speaking from experience here).
2-direction print repeats on the other hand are much nicer. You can cut a pattern piece out facing either way and you win.
To make a 2-direction block print pattern repeat for fabric, print half of your impressions facing one direction. Turn your stamp 90 degrees in any direction and print the other half of your impressions that way.
9. Turnover prints
Turnover print repeats are in the same family as 2-direction prints. The difference is that you turn over your design more than just one way. With this turnover design, there’s 4 directions happening.
You could create lots of different variants on this. The point is that you’ve got a pattern in mind and that you’re turning the stamp over to make it.
Random prints are just that. For block printing, random designs are the time that you bust out every single block you’ve ever carved. Start spacing the impressions out all over your fabric, using smaller stamps to fill in the gaps between the larger designs.
With block printing, it’s very difficult to make a random repeat that is actually repeatable. I would save random repeats for small pieces of fabric and not yardage.
It is possible to create yardage with random designs, though for that, you have to intend to make a repeating pattern before you carve your block. That’s definitely a more complicated project, and lining everything up perfectly is not easy. Making a simple cardboard jig like I did in this video (starting at 3’38”) on the other hand is a super fast, easy way to get evenly spaced designs.
So those are some different ways to create a pattern repeat in your own block printed fabrics.
Easy sewing projects for your block printed fabrics
If you’re looking for a good project for your block printed fabrics, check out:
This drawstring backpack. My second son is begging for me to help him create block print stamps from some of his dinosaur drawings, and this is the first project in line for the dino fabric!
7 minute zipper bags: awesome for using up little scraps or test-runs of your block printed fabrics.
Sew your own raglan tee: yes, you can totally print knits too! And raglan sleeves need very little yardage, so ink up that stamp and make a cool tee!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.