Plaid Pattern Definition and Design

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Posted by: Brittany Wittman McLaughlin Category: Design Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Comments: 0

Plaid Pattern Definition and Design

According to the classic book Textile Designs by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers, “the plaid is a box layout of stripes, usually horizontal and vertical, and almost always crossing at right angles. The simple definition is scarcely very descriptive, but plaids have been produced in such vast variety since the beginning of modern textile printing that a more searching definition might not cover them all. Their origin is in the threads of the loom, the warp set up lengthwise in the weft filling it in horizontally.”

Plaids are created with the loom in mind. A warp layout is designed with different size stripes in different colors, across the width of the loom. Likewise, there is a stripe pattern in the weft layout as well. As the fabric is woven, these two systems come together to form a beautiful plaid design. Structurally, any woven structure can be used, but plaids work best when balanced structures are used. For example, a plain weave or a twill, are two structures that show the same amount of warp color as weft color. This balance shows off the beautiful plaid pattern.

Design Pool Pattern P595 - Ideal for Bedding
Design Pool Pattern P595 - Ideal for Bedding

The oldest known example of a plaid fabric dates back 3000 years. Fabric remnants were found buried with the remains of “the Cherchen Man” in the desert of western China. While weavers around the world and across time were surely all moved to add color and interest to their cloth, the Scots ingrained plaids into their culture through woolen cloth known as tartans. Plaids, and their cousin checks, are staples in garments from suiting to leisurewear and everything in between.

Design Pool Pattern P459 - Perfect for Carpet and Rugs
Design Pool Pattern P459 - Perfect for Carpet and Rugs
Design Pool Pattern P1332 - Great for Upholstery
Design Pool Pattern P1332 - Great for Upholstery

Throughout the history of textile design, print designers have often taken inspiration from traditionally woven fabrics and reinterpreted them in new and exciting patterns for print. Without the limitations of the loom, warp and weft layouts, and weave structure, a plaid can take on new meaning when created for printing on fabrics.

Design Pool Pattern P454 - Great for an Accent Wall
Design Pool Pattern P454 - Great for an Accent Wall

Plaids have been popular for generations. They continue to be on-trend in fashion and home furnishing fabrics season after season. Are you a plaid lover? What is your favorite use for plaid?

See and shop modern plaid pattern designs for interiors on Design Pool Patterns.

Sources:
Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period, Susan Meller and Joost Elffers

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