Your Ultimate Guide To Fashion Shapes And Patterns

by Abstra Styleon March 08, 2018

Today’s fashion industry demands great pattern making, and this has sparked a real competition between fashion designers. This competition leads to the creation of innovative patterns, and it ultimately benefits the fashion enthusiasts. However, whether you are an emerging fashion designer or a potential customer, it is essential for you to note that to prepare a pattern, you need to follow any of the following three:

  • Drafting

  • Draping

  • Flat paper

We will look at each of them briefly before exploring patterns concerning shapes and cultures as thee two happen to be the major distinguishing factors between changes in patterns.


This is a pretty straightforward method of crafting a paper pattern which is two dimensional. To create it, you require a brown paper and specific measurements of the person who will be wearing the garment. The resultant garment of this procedure is known to fit the measurements of the wearer perfectly. One of the core advantages of the method is that you could do as many iterations to the basic design as possible.


As of yet, in the industry, people have been using both manual and automated methods to get something substantial for their customers. However, it should be noted that is not economically feasible for large-scale businesses to mass produce designs manually. Therefore, they create designs with the help of computers.


Well, you could think of it as a thorough survey of the figure to craft and deliver a maximum level of fitting and luxury. Initially, it was known as modeling (which is quite understandable), but with the passage of time, due to some modernization in techniques, the name changed. Originally, this method was extensively used to create patterns on different garments.

Even though this technique is quite diminished as of now, but there are some places that still use it. For instance, a couple of designing houses in Paris make use of this approach.

To start modeling, you need a dress form and a stand. I advise you to visit the market and select the size of dress forms you would want to have (if you are a fashion designer or you planning to go that way). Now the designer would have a picture (in mind) or a sketch of something (for now, we assume that he has a pattern or a shape in mind). 

Please note that the wrong side of the garment is wrapped or rather fixed on the dress form (which imitates the wearer in the real world). The orientation and flow of the fabric are visible in this scenario.
It must be realized that the cloth used for draping is called muslin and therefore, the pattern you get at the end of sketching is known as muslin pattern.

Flat paper

In this type of pattern, you take a dummy of the prospect and then design your patterns on the fabric wrapped around the dummy. Among all the methods listed here, this happens to be the most accurate and fastest ones since the least number of iterations are required.

Now we will explore the two major categories of distinguishing patterns by shape and culture (as specified at the beginning of this article).

Shapes and Patterns

There are hundreds and thousands of shapes for garment patterns that we have not even seen half of them. This section will shed light on a couple of shapes that are most widely used in the fashion industry. Furthermore, we will also explore the comprehensive look dished out be specific shapes and how they are perceived under normal circumstances.


Before getting specific, it is essential for you to note that generally, square shape dishes out the idea of boldness. For instance, if someone is wearing a shirt with box patterns, then the audience would be (somehow) compelled to develop a perception that you are a confident individual.

Now we should get specific to understand the concept better. The easiest example to understand it is to consider a check pattern. Even though there are several combinations for making a check, the underlying principle remains the same. Since we discussed that this shape is known for teaching a feeling of confidence, I encourage you to try that in your life and see what happens.


This is not a very common shape in apparel, but in the majority of the cases, it dispenses the sense of an aggressive and active attitude. In some situations and cultures, aggression may be considered as a proactive element in human nature.

Likewise, we have other shapes as well, such as geometrical and floral. If we correctly talk about geometrical shapes, they are quite well known for propagating a feeling of an organized person. This is because, in geometric shapes, nothing is an approximation, every dimension of the shape is thought to be well calculated.

Organic or rather a floral shape fabric remains probably the most common one in the apparel industry in all instances. It is also probably the most bought print in ladies. It blends with pretty much all environments and seasons while dishing out a sense of ‘flow' in your personality.


Well, this is a comprehensive term and caters to an array of shape and patterns ranging from circular to triangles and ovals as well. You would find both symmetrical and abstract designs for such shapes, and both of them look attractive for specific colors and fabric quality they are being used on.

Culture and Patterns

Every culture is proud of its clothing tradition. Whether we talk about Chinese, African, middle eastern or Indian patterns and shapes, every culture has some distinguishable characteristics. We will shed some light on a few cultures and talk about their preferences in clothing style.


Even though African clothing is not quite mainstream in Europe and North America, this rich culture holds its significance and matters a lot to the fashion enthusiasts. It should also be noted that this custom-made clothing contains an array of shapes and each one of them is supposed to carry a distinct `meaning. Let it be a unique color.

Shape, symbol or any old character representing their rich history. In many variants of the World, African clothing is quite well recognized to dispense a feeling of status, boost creativity and show that the roots of the wearer are quite embedded into tribes (which is not a bad thing at all, I am just saying…)

Kente cloth Dresses

This is just an example of hundreds of different African clothing types. It happens to be quite a vibrant fabric with multiple panels, each of them ranging to about 4 inches wide. Brightly colored threads are used for marking beautiful patterns, and these styles demonstrate their religious beliefs. In some conditions, it may also refer to their political status or scenario of the country. It should also be noted that in African clothing patterns, colors hold a significant value since each color or combination dispenses a specific meaning.


Well, Indian culture is quite rich in colors and traditional patterns. A few of their embossed patterns are discussed below:

Mirror work

Here comes one of the most appreciated Indian design patterns. Small pieces of inexpensive mirror are cut into different shapes (there is not any hard and fast rule for that. You are free to cut in any shape. However, pointed shapes are avoided.). These mirrors look dazzling on the cloth and are incredibly easy to stitch. Since they are lightweight, you do not have to worry about carrying ‘mirrors’ on your clothing.


Kantha work

It specifically belongs to West Bengal state and trusts me; it stands among the most beautiful designs you have ever seen on apparel. It should be noted that instead of printing the design, it is mostly handmade and the use of embroidery is quite extensive.

It is quite common among Indian ladies mainly because the texture is quite special and the visuals are stunning. These designs usually refer to the legendary Indian tales such as Mahabharata. Firstly, the designer is supposed to mark the outline and then it is filled with colored thread(s).



If you follow Indian fashion trends, you must know that phulkari pattern belongs to the Punjab region. If you translate the word, it means ‘garden of the flower.’ Isn’t it amazing? Following that concept, phulkari designs are quite common for Indian brides belonging to the Punjabi community.
The colors and shapes are known to spread the feelings and emotions of elegance and happiness.



If we talk about traditional Chinese clothing, it nests two basic forms: a long gown, blouse, and a skirt. This combination has been quite popular in casual environments as well as in the office. As a general trend, women preferred skirt and blouse and Chinese men were always keen to wear long gowns.

Chinese people are very well known for expressing their gratitude by using patterns. This is the same thing that is reflected in their clothing. You are most likely to find patterns and shapes of animals, architectures, geometry, flowers, and mountains on their dresses, regardless of the fabric type.

Since there is a long lasting history embedded in their culture, you would also find significant shapes such as a dragon on the Emperor's robe, glorifying and giving the mythical supernatural power to the wearer.

Middle East

The Middle East happens to be a very diverse and colorful piece of land. Even though the main dresses that you often see in the media include a white robe and black veil, things are quite extensive if we explore the culture personally. The main reason for a whole new level of creativity in their apparel is a compromise between their local traditions and the boon of Western fashion.

Shemagh Mhadab

It refers to the red and white check keffieh that is quite common in entire gulf. However, Saudi Arabia happens to use it the most. But it should be noted that this cloth particularly represents the colors of Jordan, Bedouin tribes to be more precise. The length of the keffiyeh is yet another thing to be noticed here. Your status or importance is directly proportional to the length of the garment you are wearing.


The color of the keffiyeh changes as we move to Palestine as they use black and white color combination. However, the shapes on this check garment are almost the same. Even now, keffieh with black and white colors are known to be used for the Palestinian cause.

The Importance Of Pattern Grading

As we have discussed in the first section of this article, pattern grading happens to be on the core aspects of fashion designing. See, if there is not any design or pattern on your garment, it would be a simple and plain fabric. However, a pattern is something that gives it a whole new meaning and wearing it becomes purposeful as well.

I mean you get to choose whether you want to wear pink circular pattern in a party or a zigzag pattern on the purple skirt. If there had not been the concept of pattern grading, you would appear to be wearing the same clothes everywhere. Different body types require different types of patterns. Otherwise, the design would simply wreck your aura if it does not fit your body shape. This is one of the core aspects of pattern grading.

Common Patterns

There are hundreds and thousands of garment patterns in the World. Every brand is keen to roll out its latest pattern not only to attract potential customers but to mark its distinctive reputation as well. However, there are a couple of designs that are almost always preferred or rather loved by the customers, and they have been in the business for quite some time now. We will discuss an array of them below.


Well, the name nests pretty much all of the detail you need. Although the colors may vary concerning different brands, this pattern looks like a weaved basket. There are multiple crisscross patterns that are linked together on the fabric to make it more compelling and provide an ultimate level of attention to detail. The overall effect of this fabric is symmetrical, which is satisfying and looks like a checkerboard.

It should be noted that there is not any concrete rule of obtaining the design as the practices. I mean you might get one of its pieces woven in ribbon while at another outlet, there might just be a print on fabric. So that is not a big deal as it all depends on your choice.

If you are curious about color combination, that is not something that you should be worried about. This design is so universal that you are most likely to find an array of colors in it, ranging from bright to neutral. Thus, making it a perfect choice for contemporary style.


It happens to be one of the most widely used patterns for drapes and adding soft padding to different textiles. The primary loom consists of Jacquard, and the woven material is made up of brocade, which is indeed heavy, dense and rich stuff. Well, that is the very reason why there is so much detailing in every inch of the design.

If you want to know whether the brocade used in your design is authentic or not, you should check for a raised design that appears similar to the embroidery. However, it is not embroidered as it happens to be incorporated into the fabric. Nowadays, designers have started using an array of stuff to make brocade and satin and silk are two of the most widely used materials.

Well, it does not just stop there, and you would also find a multitude of decorative touches on its lining as well, such as metallic threads. Although there is not any restriction for using this design and fabric, it works best with traditional decorating styles, especially with khaki colors.


If you like the zigzag pattern of multicolor stripes, this is where your search ends. Even though it has been around for several years, it still rides the horse if we talk about the popularity. I suggest you look for the stripes in two distinct colors. Now everyone has a different choice in selecting these colors, but if you like contrast, make sure that white colored stripes are also present.

However, just like I prefer dark color and I am least concerned about contrast, I would prefer black and maroon or other vivid combinations. Its psyche on human nature regarding color combinations is pretty much similar to the checked designs, but it is far less sophisticated and has a fun nature added to its flare.


No, no, you pronounced it wrong. Don’t worry; I made the same mistake when I first heard of it. Well, it happens to be ‘sheen-ways-e/a-ree,’ and the designs used in this represent the Western influence on Chinese civilization hundreds of years back. The colors and fabric type caries from vendor to vendor and so is the case with design patterns, but the most popular themes represent boats, flowers, children, and fishers.

You could also find a combination of these designs. If you cannot find a color scheme of your choice, manufacturers are there to prepare one for you since most of the times; they are made to blend easily with Asian-inspired colors or the traditions of Chinese people.


Well, this is somehow similar to brocade and even the first fabric, upon which the design is woven, is made up of the Jacquard loom. There could be an array of patterns embedded (or to be embedded) on the fabric but most of the times, it just a floral pattern. 

If we talk about the choice of materials, once again we get to see a great variety, but mostly, luxury materials such as silk as used. In typical cases, damask comprises of a sheen, which is quite well recognized to embed an expensive feel and touch the final product. It happens to be a luxury in the fashion industry, and that is why multicolor damasks are not very common. This is the reason why it is known to work best in formal environments.


Enough of regular patterns, right? Let’s get down to a simple yet joyous and cheerful pattern. It does not contain a single element as in the case of almost all other patterns discussed in this section. Rather, ditzy comprises of multiple small elements spread on the canvas. There is not any rule as to what these elements must be. You could select flowers, geometric shapes, circles, triangles together with an array of small figures.

These patterns usually consist of an array of colors, and as a general rule, the joyousness of the design is linked with the colors being used to prepare it. It is up to you whether you want to buy clothing based on ditzy or you just want to decorate your living room with these designs. It works either way.


It happens to be a symbol of European monarch in general in French in general. This pattern has been in business since medieval times and people, even the ones outside of Europe seem to love it.


The pattern is not sophisticated as it may seem from the name and just contains a lily flower. It includes a band near the bottom together with three or maximum four petals. This design is not an easy one and nests a lot of traditions. However, it could be coupled with an array of other designs to adjust to almost all kinds of environments.

You are most likely to find it in neutral colors so that it could be used almost anywhere, without having to worry about formal and informal colors.


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