welcome julia and how to make a repeat pattern

hello hello. thank you Grace for having me this week! I am very excited to be here. Besides introducing you to some cool artists, giving sneak peeks and before and afters of some friends homes, and sharing my favorite new product finds, I thought it would be nice to share some of the things I have learned along the way of being a illustrator/pattern designer.

One of the questions I frequently get emailed is -how do you make a repeat pattern? I thought it would be fun today to do a little tutorial showing you how simple it is even with a very complex drawing. And you don’t even need a computer! (I usually do my repeats on the computer but today I’m doing it the way I was first taught.) Here’s the old fashioned way of making a tile-able design:

On a clean piece of paper draw a design in the middle of your paper without letting any of the drawing touch the edges- this is very important. (I am going to draw lions and vine-y things- an influence from last months visit to the American Folk Art museum in nyc.)

Once you finish the middle space as much as you want you are going to cut your drawing in half- scary I know- but that’s why computers are helpful. Once you have the two pieces flip them and tape your drawing back together. Put the tape on the back of the paper so it doesn’t obstruct your drawing at all later. Also try to tape your drawing back together as perfectly lined up as possible. It’s hard to see that I’ve even taped mine since I’ve lined it up so well.

Next you are going to cut your drawing in half again the other way- (yikes!) and flip those pieces and tape them back together. Now your design should be on all the edges only and you have a big middle white space. Now fill this space with the rest of your design. Remember again- do not draw to any of the edges of the paper.

Once you finish filling in all the parts you want to fill in you now have your repeatable tile. You could color this tile and then xerox it many times and line up your design- plaster it on your walls and make wallpaper. I am going to cheat and do the final coloring steps in the computer to finish up my design. I am going to scan my drawing, take it into Adobe Illustrator, color and repeat it there.

And here’s my finished design:


Julia – something I have been dying to figure out is how you take your patterns and showcase them as applications on various products. You do a really great job with this. I’m thinking it takes photo-shopping skills far beyond my abilities! (I’m a surface pattern designer, so I understand photo-shop… to an extent!) I would LOVE to learn what tools you use to make it look so polished.

ps: I also LOVE folk art! So great. Take care!

Ana Romero

Hi Julia! I’m a big fan of your work and it’s lovely to have you here at design sponge to keep us company all week! Great tutorial also! I’ve been playing with patterns for a few months now and I didn’t quite catch how it should be done until now! Your tutorial is quite simple and works great for complex designs! Thanks!


wow – this is so clever, yet obvious at the same time! i’m definitely going to try it!

Tisra Fadely

I’m a totally self-taught artist, and since I make things up as I go along, I miss stuff. THIS post is eye-opening! I’m sure it’s “basic” to those who’ve gone to school for art, but this little tidbit has me completely excited at the possibility!!! Thank you!


HI! What a educational post! Thanks for sharing! I love your example print too.


This is a great tutorial! And so glad to see one of my favorite artists doing the guest blog.


Thanks Julia for such an easy to follow and inspiring tutorial. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the weeks shapes up.


Wow! Thank you for this post. This really was as everyone else has stated, “eye-opening” and “clever”. Thank you!
How do you half pictures in photoshop and line it up?


Thank you so much for generously sharing this technique! It’s exactly what I wanted to know…

Love your designs!


This is so great Julia! I’ve taught myself how to do repeats and it has been a big struggle. I always seem to end up all confused and frustrated. This tutorial is so great and a big help! Thanks!


Oh great! I’m glad to share.

ae- I learned how to photoshop my applications from an online tutorial I found somewhere. I wish I still had the link. Basically it’s a mix of multiplying your layer and using the displace filter. If you search around the web you can probably find some sort of site to help you.


The best How-To in a long time. Much appreciated!!


Awesome! I’m a textile designer too and just love patterns that repeat perfectly. Maybe it’s that so much design is done straight on the computer, but a pattern designed in a box and just tiled out drives me nuts, I can see it “striping” a mile away ;) (PS: I love your regular blog too.)

virginia rivera

thank you so much………this makes it so much easier. i had struggled to do something similar in photoshop, but it was frustrating. ps. swissmiss has some helpful tutorials.

Constance Pappalardo

This is great! Thanks so much. As a fine arts person, I have recently grown interested in pattern making and this has helped so much.


lisa s

i am a giant fan of yours….

how generous of you to show this technique! thanks so much!!


Wow, this tutorial looks so fun to try. Thank you Julia for sharing with us.


Thanks so very much for sharing! I’ve struggle with repeats- this is so very helpful. Looking forward to more of your posts this week.
As for online tutorials, I’ve found Total Training and Lynda.com helpful.

Heather Moore

Absolute serendipity – I spent my day breaking my brain as I tried to teach myself to make a repeat. This is such a brilliant tutorial – i think you just changed my life!

Ellen Crimi-Trent

great job,! you could also scan it in and do the repeat in illustrator by using tabs which is what I used to do when I designed chilren’s clothing. These days I am lucky and my fabric company does it all for me, I haven’t done a repeat in about 15 years!! Most companies will do it for you in giftwrap, fabric etc. so although its great to know you do not have to feel intimidated into having to have your designs this way. I still think a good designer should know it anyway just to make sure the designs are well executed.


This is great! I figured out my own way of doing repeats on the computer, but I always wondered how others (including Amy Butler) did this by hand.
Thank you, Julia, for sharing! Can’t wait to see what else you have planned!


thank you! that is SO fabulous. gotta go do this SOON.


Thank you so much for these simple and easy to follow instructions. I’m self-taught “artiste” and have been experimenting with different methods of creation. I was just about to venture into pattern design and these instructions couldn’t be more timely or useful.


Another big fan here, Julia. Thank you very much for this tutorial — it may be my favorite on-line tutorial ever! I’ve been wondering how to do repeat patterns for ages. Thank you!


Brilliant and simple tutorial. Thank you Julia! I am a big fan of your illustration and your blog, so it’s nice to see some of the backstage tricks!


julia, thank you SO much for sharing this. I make my repeats on the computer but this hand method is such an eye-opener!


This is so cool! I only wish I hadn’t stumbled across this while at work (where I”m *ehem* working… )


This is so wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. This will open my world to patterns now.


That is the clearest, simplest tutorial I’ve seen regarding tiling. Thanks for sharing!


the filter “offset” does exactly that in Photoshop…But not every body has Photoshop, thanks for shating,
and what a beautiful pattern!


I love patterning but I’ve been too intimidated by my own drawings to tile them. I’ve been toying with several approaches including this one, and seeing your beautiful lion and vine drawing has encouraged me!


This is SO COOL, I can see I’m not the only one fascinated by repeats and you have given us all something wonderful to go away and try. Thanks Julia!!!


joy! joy joy joy! I have long wondered how to accomplish this. You are wonderful for sharing this longed-for tutorial. and that is a GREAT pattern.


Thank you, thank you for demystifying the technique of creating pattern repeats! I love your lion print!

Lisa Clarke

That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! I make repeating patterns all of the time in polymer clay, but I suddenly have all kinds of ideas for how to accomplish much more intricate, non-kaleidoscopic repeats now. Very neat!

helen S

duh, that just made it all so easy. When you scan into illustrator do you then have to draw over your scan to get closed shapes to colour rather than lines, this is where I struggle but I am totally selftaught and ever learning.


OMG. Thank you so much Julia! :)
You have changed the way I look at patterns forever! Hoooray! :)


oh, blooming fantastic…thanks so much for showing it the old fashioned way! i know what i’m going to be doing today…


I’ve been wondering how to do a repeat pattern for so long, this tutorial explains it so simply! You have no idea how happy this makes me :) Thank you!


I donot temember when I have seen so great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.


Julia – yup just like I thought! No idea what a displacement filter is :) but I’m definitely going to google my little heart out looking for tutorials! Thank you!

erin lang norris

Being self taught in just about everything I have done with arts and crafts, this way really mesmerizes me. I like knowing the “old” way things were done…the finished product just has so much more charm. Thank you so much, I can’t wait to try this. Now I don’t want to go to work today!


well… actually i was lookin’ for some web design patterns… anyway your patters are good.


I feel like I’ve just been given the key to a very cool secret! Thank you for sharing it around!!!


I’m also a big fan of your amazing pattern. It’s great to see your behind-the scene :) very inspiring!


Wow Julia, thanks! But what are the exact steps in the computer. Can you give them for the way you scanned this in Photoshop and brought over it Illustrator? How does the line in photoshop translate to vector in illustrator? and how do you color it?

Also, if all of the drawing had been done only in illustrator, how do you cut the design and line it up? or do you copy and paste the whole image into the corners? How does the measurement of the repeat box get figured out?

I know how to do repeats my way – but your way seems like it would save me so much time.


Uncle Beefy

I’m sure that everything I would have said has already been said so I’ll be brief. One word to you Miss Julia…GODDESS!


this is fantastic!! i’ve been trying to figure repeated patterns out!! thank you so much for sharing!!!


I knew there was a reason why I hadn’t started doing (repeat) patterns myself yet. My subconscious must have been waiting for this tutorial!


I’ve also puzzled with repeat patterns – not easy to figure out.

Thanks a lot for a great tutorial!


That just solved a million puzzles I had in my head for designing new gift box designs. Couldn’t have asked for a better post at a better time. Grazie mille indeed!


I am really surprised at the amazing response to this post! I’m so glad I was helpful to so many people! happy pattern making!


Agck!!! This is too amazingly smart! I can’t wait to try this out!

Thank you!!!!


Julia, you rule!!! I was amazed and delighted to find you were not only the guest blogger but also sharing a glimpse into your magical creations. Thank you! You continue to inspire me.


Julia, I design fabric linings for business cases and totes. I do all my work directly in Illustrator. I’d love to do a hand drawn pattern for one of our totes soon and I’ll definitely use your method! One reader asked how you color your file once you import it into Illustrator. I’d like to ask the same. Do you use live trace, or does that alter your original design too much? What other method would you use to color your imported image in Illustrator? I’d love to know!


Thank you so very very much for this! I was browsing through one of the blogs I was subscribed to when I found a link to here and I am ever so grateful that I did. I’m stuck at home all day today so this tutorial has definitely given me something to look forward to! Thanks!♥


Alma and Andrew- I do live trace my drawings. I’ve found perfect settings to get them just right. thanks!


Old school, just the way I like it. I still do everything by hand. Not really by choice but because I don’t know how to use any design programs.


That is wayyy too cool. Thank you ever so much for the tutorial!
I will definately have to try that out.

I sorta have a question, however.
If I made a design, and wanted to make it into real wallpaper, what paper should I use? What paper would work in a computer printer, but wouldn’t possibly run or bleed when glueing it up?
Well, when I think about it, I probally cannot wallpaper in my rental flat I’m getting in a few months… so maybe just decoupage will work on furniture and such!

Still, if you had a chance to suggest paper, that would be amazing.

Thank you soo much!


Great job!!
Im a designer and Im working at my own pattern designs. So I have a question similar than Andrew ask you, but the answer it´s not jet clear to me, so please answer it again.
¿What are the exact steps in the computer.Can you give them for the way you scanned this in Photoshop and brought over it Illustrator? How does the line in photoshop translate to vector in illustrator? and how do you color it?
Thank you soo much
I am going to be waiting for your response


This is so great. I wanted a tutorial for seamless background for a long time, but forgot about it…I just found yours and I will definitely try it one of these days. I will start Adobe Illustration soon and I guess we can even do this on Photoshop too…
Awesome, thanks a lot!!!


Julia, this is a fantastic tutorial, thank you.
My daughter and I tried this technique out with different patterns over the weekend, and it was successful every time.


wow thanks this has been puzzling me for quite a while! love your stuff Jules x


Julia, great tutorial! I am also a textile designer and this is one of the “secret” methods we learned in one of our repeat pattern classes. It’s great to see so many talented people trying their hand at textile design and now that they know this tip all their designs will be so much improved! Cheers~


amazing – i love it! I am going to make one right now and see how it turns out.
xo alison


terrific technique….thanks! ***Do you have a “cut-paper” easy formula for figuring out a half-drop repeat??? I always go a little nuts trying to figure those out. Many thanks!

Lachie Penn

Great little tutorial..I am self taught graphics and have just gotten into the clothing game. Very much the youth, skate, surf game where repeat fabris is very popular. If anyone can point me in the direction of good designers, resources etc, that would be awesome… regards to all and thanks. Lachie


Wow perfect timing with this tutorial, thank you so much!
–Beautiful drawing, too!

Shannon Benavidez

Ok… So I tried this on my computer and it is hard! I am very new to this whole photoshop thing so I am going to keep at it. Thanks so much for the tutorial!!


Julia- thank you, thank you. Wish the textile class at SVA I recently took showed us this! Love your work–I know exactly what show you went to see!


That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing. But where do you go from there? I’m am new to this but have a few designs in mind and would like to be able to take them to get printed on a few yards of fabric. Can you reccommend some companies that do this?

R Sullivan

Fabulous, thank you so much. Art teacher, UK


Thank you for sharing how to do this; It’s wonderful !
I shall be making some tiled art soon ♥


Wow this is brilliant. Repeating what others have stated – which is apropos I suppose. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!


talk more about decorations,fabrics, fibres, block printing,repeating pattern,drawing.


Thank you I’ve always wanted to draw like this and now I can make drawing’s have improved 95%!



I have been trying to learn how to craete patetrns on my own..I ahve photoshop, just downloaded Inkscpae, have been trying to experiment…but this is the fiurst tiem I’ve fianlly been informed about how a tile si amde…I can see it clearlu from this instructional. Many thanks..I don’t feel so frustrated now ;-)


I’m a textile design student, and I’m blown off with your trick. Now I beleive there plenty much ahead to learn, if real to be a textile designer! Thank for the super tricks. You are great!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have a couple of projects I have put off because I didn’t know how to do this.

Pat Sharp

Are there any size specs, limited number of colors?
I have designed for years in all the old fashioned methods, 2 color, four color, full color and size constraints dictated by the screen ,roller, whatever. How do you reproduce the fabric designs?


Thank you so much for posting this…. it’s so much fun to produce designs that look so professional! very inspiring and useful. cheers!


maggie said:
June 5th, 2008 – 5:31 pm
***Do you have a “cut-paper” easy formula for figuring out a half-drop repeat???

If I am hearing your request right:

Start whole page (image the four quarters as below):

1 2
3 4

The repeating pattern you want will be:

1 2 3 4 1 2
3 4 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 1 2
3 4 1 2 3 4

Draw design in middle of the page.
Then cut in half vertically first. Now cut only the left strip in half again (horizontally this time to separate 1&3).

Now you take piece 1 to bottom right and piece 3, to top right and stick those two quarters together again. This will leave the right hand strip (2&4) now on the left, but with a half height displacement. Stick the left & right halves together.

Finished page layout (positions of rearranged four corners):

2 3
4 1

Of course to draw over the bottom of section 4 onto top of section 2, you need to rotate the pieces again. This time you cut JUST horizontally so you have 2&3 and 4&1 which get swapped and re selotaped to be:

4 1
2 3

I think that covers all the boundaries you need. You have now created the full pattern that can be repeated in a half drop:

1 2 3 4 1 2
3 4 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 1 2
3 4 1 2 3 4

karyn Servin

I have made repeats for years, but never has it been illustrated so simply. Thank you for such a beautiful explanation! I feel I have been doing them wrong all this time.


This was very helpful. I suppose I can do all the “cutting and pasting” in photoshop? Please advise!

karyn Servin

I love this posting. I had to bookmark it because it is so simple and beautifully explains something that puzzles many of us. Your artwork is fantastic, thank you for sharing!


Great tutorial! Thank you.

You could quite easily turn this into a pattern tile in Illustrator so it could be tiled infinitely without having to step and repeat, or manually align them.

You may even be able to create a fill pattern in Photoshop with your pic so you can fill anything you like with it.



i’ll show you a pattern made by me:

thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank
thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank
thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank
thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank
thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank
thank you thank you thank you
you thank you thank you thank


i’ll (try to) be posting my first pattern with this tecnique as a backgroud for my blog, check it out :)


Great Tut!
have been wondering how to do this for ages.

now i’m off to cover every possible surface i can find in pattern!


hmmmm…. but I’d like to know how take my drawing on Illustrator and virtually cut it and paste it together on the computer. Wish I had that ability with some magic button.


This is fantastic, I can’t wait to try it out. I bet this would be a good way to silkscreen a repeating pattern on fabric yardage…


this is very lovely!! now i know how to create those amazing patterns, ive been searching the web for an hour for this, and finally a fruit from patience..thank you so much for wonderful tutorial julia, god speed!!!


Really? That’s how it’s done? Wow, I am so excited!!! I love when the most complicated looking things turn out to be fairly simple! Thanks!


Thanks a lot for this tutorial! ^^
It really helps a lot! I was searching for repeating pattern and start thinking to make one myself and I stumble on this page.
It’s like a revelation. Thanks a lot once more! ^^


Thank you so much. This site was God send for me as I was searching for general information on textile design. This tip was exactly what I was looking for at this time.

mc sub-zero permafrost

wow. thank you!!!!!! i am usually limited to old-skool cut and paste methods, but would love to know steps to do this in photoshop (for example what kind of google search would i do, i keep trying photoshop, textile, pattern, tiling but nothing relevant comes up) i’m in hamburg right now w amazing access to an art school silkscreen studio right now and am itching to do repeattt patterning textiles with some of my drawings (they have some fairly large frames here) any hints even as to terms i might use to do a succesful search would be appreciated. i’m a perfromer from new orleans who is self-taught in sewing (i make my own patterns for costumes and would love to print my own material, right now i just print single drawings for patches and t-shirts, but love the hynotic effects of repetition…

thank you……..


Bilbo Baggins

Fantastic tutorial. I always wanted to know the “Old School” way.
Absolutely superb to understand, very clear and very concise. Thanks a million from Indonesia!


julia, thank you soo so much!! you have been a life saver the past few months (& few jobs) i’ve done. as a newcomer to textile design it was so difficult to find any decent tutorials about how to create a repeatable tile…yours was to the point & better yet: old school, explaining exactly how it is!!

it’s just opened up a world of endless possibilities- thank you!

p.s. i love your work also!


i’m a design student from hong kong, your post is so inspiring =D
supprot and thank you!~


Ohhh, now it makes sense! Thank you soo much, something i’ve been dying to figure out!!

Kevin Poole

As a graphic designer I’ve toyed with repeat patterns for years and always wanted to know how to do it properly, but something else always came up. Then finally got round to googling the subject and there was your tutorial. Thank you very, very much, it’s easier than I ever figured it was…awesome!


This is wonderful, thank you very much.
I’m learning to be a pattern designer, so this helps alot!

Was just wondering though, is it supposed to match up perfectly? because both of the ones i’ve made match up, but at different heights on the page? Thanks!


WOW, your patterns are SO complicated! Now I learn something new. Thank you.


Thanks you really simplified what I thought was so complicated! Do you know what sizes I would need to work to to present my designs to the textile industry for fashion, interiors or gift wraps. This would be the final piece to my creative jigsaw!


That is really cool. I adore patterns and have always been curious about how to do this.

I love the low-tech way you’ve described this–paper, pencil, scissors and tape. Nice.

Now I’m going to go make a pattern of my own!… Thank you!


Thanks so much for explaining this so clearly. I have wondered for ages about the hidden secrets of repeats and now find that they are not so secret and hidden after all…lol. Off to try it out on some of my designs.


I googled “repeating pattern” and got this tutorial. How lucky! I love Design*Sponge. Thanks for having a great blog.


This could be improved by filling in the white space in the middle in between the first and second cuts, so that you can have parts of the design that go over what will become the top and bottom edges.


Thank u sooo much..hav been tryin to figure this out fer ages!!….am definately going to try it


thank you so much!! I am an artist who wants to get into textile design, and I was wracking my brains about how to make a continous repeat pattern!!!


Thank you so much for this. I’ve been trying to make patterns in Photoshop with no success. I can totally use these same instructions for PS.


This is a godsend! The most useful tutorial ever and so hard to find this information anywhere else it seems. Design*Sponge rocks! Thanks for all the continuing inspiration.

Tony Ablen

Julia, bless you! You must be sent from
above as an Angel of Repeat Patterns
to teach people like me.


Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is exactly what I needed. Great pattern. I had no idea it was that easy.


Thank you so much! I have been googling and googling to figure out how to do this. How simply beautiful. I owe you!

Connie Z.

I’m a high school art teacher who loves to draw. I am so grateful to have found this through a Pinterest link.

Can’t wait to try it and then teach it to high school students!


Absolutly beautiful and useful.
Im using yours in my twitter: @macakuaya
I hope you don´t mind n_n


Thank you so much for the clear instructions and illustrations.
I have used the images to show my Grade 10 students how to develop very complex patterns in their design projects.


Julia, great tutorial! I’m still stuck however on how to create a repeat pattern from an artwork that runs all the way to the edges of the page?


You don’t have any idea of the time I’ve spent looking for a tutorial on pattern design. The ones I always found were descripting simple shapes patterns (circles, squares, things like that) and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find a tutorial on the topic you cleverly, nicely, simply explain on this post! You are my new design goddess, the one I’ll always worship. Hahaha! Great tutorial and I’m following you right now! :-)

Greetings and many thanks!


Great Work. very inspiring!! What version of Adobe Illustrator so you have?


Thank you. It’s simple and very clear ;D Love your tutorial


Wonderful presentation. May I have permission to use it in a course I teach. Thank you. eo



this is julia’s post so please contact her for permission: julia AT also-online dot com



Thank you. I was searching on how to create repeated patterns and nothing could be simpler than this one…. Thanks again.


I’m mostly self-taught. It’s really great to see that the method I “invented” for my CADD/drafting students is the classic old-school way of doing it. A wonderful boost to my self-confidence. But your explanation is so much clearer and cleaner than mine ever was. :-)

JoDee Costello

I’m trying to teach myself Illustrator, gaining on it slowly. One of the main things I want to do with it is scan my black and white drawings and color them in the program, like you showed in the tutorial above. Can you tell me how you do that??? Would appreciate a little lesson! Thanks.


That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!!
I NEVER would have thought of doing it that way!

Brianne Farley

This is so great! I’ve never made a repeat pattern before and this was so simple and straightforward. I spent a while online trying to find a tutorial about how to tessellate with Illustrator. This was way easier!

Darrell Morrison

Wow Now that Is a cool concept. Love the tutorial
I sure do not have the drawing skills. Well done.

Sarah J

Never realized how simple the process is! Definitely going to give this a try – thank you for the cool tutorial! :)


i gave this a try! you can see it on my blog and it came out rather fine ,i still have to perfect myself a little .. THANKS!


Thank you so much for sharing this! I have never seen the process demonstrated with paper – this makes the digital process for creating repeats so much easier to understand. Step-and-repeat is one thing, but this is a whole new level! Thanks again!


Hi Julia,
thanks for explaining. I finaly understand how these patterns work. No of to Illustrator… and use your info…


Hey thanks a lot for sharing the tutorial :)
I’m making an app and this is just what i need for the bg generator


I’m also relieved I found this when I did. I’ve just sketched out a ton of fabric design ideas and it’ll be much, much easier to implement them now that I have seen your tutorial. Thanks for putting this here.


You have no idea how long I have been looking for the information you’ve shared in this tutorial. Thank you for sharing Julia. :-)

Clarisse- from brazil.

This tutorial is great!
Very simple and understandable.
Thank you for sharing.
Can’t wait to try it.


I’ve tried it and it’s very beautiful
Thank you for sharing it :)


Wonderful! So if I need a 24″ repeat, I should just start with a 24″ sheet of paper (or a division of 24″)?

Erin / Miri-love

Wow, never knew how to do this! I usually just use royalty-free stock or manipulate my own image on the computer. SO trying this! Thank youuuuuu!


Very cool post, thanks for the simple but effective tutorial! It’s a great one to refer people/designers to :)


Oh I completely missed this! Thanks so so much for the tutorial Julia, I’ve been wanting to try this for so long!

Robert Ramos

Would like to know who keeps the rights?how do you help the artist to produce a product? thank you, Robert


I totally get this now, thank you so much for sharing x


Thanks for this lesson — I just made my first pattern this way!

Fiona Humberstone

I’ve been looking for a post like this for ages! Thank you so much for sharing. Off to have lots of fun creating my first patterns.


Oh my goodness, THANK YOU! I can see by the amount of comments that it’s cleared up any confusion… I’ve been hours trying to figure out how to do this! Such a clear, informative tutorial! x

Kat Landreth

That’s so awesome!!! Thank you so very very much for sharing how to make a repeat pattern. I’m just starting to print my own fabric, and I can make existing patterns tileable, but I’ve been wondering how you do it when you want to start from scratch. Thanks again!

julia grifol

I am a Spanidh designer interested in learnig about textile design. Thanks a lot for your great tutorial. I have a doubt. I used to scan my ink drawigns, but I later vectorized them in corel draw as I think scanned drawings don,t have enought quality in order to reproduce them. I think your sold patterns look as hand made ¿are them vectorized before colourin them? It is something I have lots of curiosity to learn, as I am not very goood drawing with my mouse as usin my pen. Greetings from Spain.

Armando Alvarez

This is SOOOOO cool!
Thank you for providing the example using exactly what I had in mind which was a complex illustration. I love your blog.


Thank you so much for being so generous with your skill and talent, you have given me something to distract me from my break-up!! I thought you had to be a computer whizz to do stuff like this, now I feel really inspired!


Thank ou ou very much, just what I need to solve my design dilemma,more work to do now- always good!
Good luck with all your own projects


your designs looks great and marvelous designer. Pls tell me that how do you get pattern designs in illustrator. m waiting for your reply.

Leslie Tucker

Thank you so much for this. Back in 1990 or so, I created an entire line of step and repeat pattern designs based on NYC themes but totally forgot how I did it, probably because I never broke down the steps into a logical process. Your post is invaluable!!!!


Awesome! Thank you so much, you just saved me from a headache!
The illustration you made is beautiful too. :)


I really love this! something I have been trying to figure out is after you have created your patterns, how do you go about showcasing them as applications on various products? Right now I have all my patterns on printer paper done in sharpie and I know how to scan to my computer, but would love to be able to license my art for products such as wallpaper or home decor. Do you have any suggestions on where I should start??

Muhammad Abdul Qayum

Its nice to see good design from good experts. Can you tell me is there any way to theoretically classify textile designs or patterns.


Thanks so much Julia and Design Sponge, I’m working on my first repeat pattern and this REALLY helped!


Thank you so much! I’m not so good at Illustrator yet, but this tutorial made me want to know more about it and make the pattern possible! I started yesterday with a theme called summer. I will try to finish it soon and post it to show how it ended. Thanks Julia for sharing this great and easy steps! ;) Greetings from Argentina.


Great demo- I’m still not sure how you filled the centre portion after all the corners we’r filled. I’ve tried doing patterns in tiles, but I don’t like how they still look like squares. You don’t seem to use that method. Can you recommend a good book on this?


Oh, i should have visited your blog before painstakingly do and redo my tapestry crochet design. Thank you for your generousity.


so thrilled to learn this. Brilliant for us guys who dont have software. Look forward to any other design tips you have for us beginners. Thx for sharing your knowledge


This is really great. I like these type of designs. But i dont understand it. If u dont mind please give me some ideas. Thanks

Ann Kilzer

This is a great tutorial! I had to figure it out on my own months ago, but the pictures tell the whole story here.


This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
Short but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing
this one. A must read post!


hey, great tutorial, we call it as a 4 cut repeat….. it would be great if you could do a tutorial on a half drop repeat the manual way….. thanks.


I just finished posting a tutorial for my online class on how to create a print repeat by hand and was looking for free software to “tile ” it into repeat on a page….. and came across your AWESOME POST HERE!!!!!
Your design is so beautiful, it’s really thrilling to see your process. So Adobe Illustrator is the way to go for making it bigger, right? For now I just have to print and tape together to get the feel of it, but i’ll be thrilled to be able to color it up like you do! You’re very talented and I like the way you wrote and put this together.

Melodie Shubat

Thank you for the simplistic description on how to repeat a pattern. Perfect timing as a friend of mine is contemplating going into the fabric designing business. The two of us were discussing today how one repeats patterns!!!

Thank you.

Susan Kemp

Yet another “thanks SO much for this!” comment. I learnt how to do repeat pattern by hand 20 years ago but have never repeated the exercise. I tried to figure out what to do from the old pattern, but quickly gave up and googled – landing at just the right post.


I actually remember doing this in elementary school! Simple art but amazing result! I love the lion pattern by the way! Will definitely give this a try but I doubt it will turn out as well as yours! haha


Hi Julia, thanks so much for this tutorial. I wonder if you would be so kind as to explain how you colour in your design in Illustrator. I have been a Textile Designer for years and just returning to work following a break raising children. I bet there have been a lot of changes and I was wondering if there are simpler ways, without having to retrace your design using the pen tool, while still retaining the integrity of your artwork. Thanks so much :)

Grace Bonney

hi lea

this post is many many years old and julia is now a very in-demand artist, so sadly i don’t think she has time to come back for further updates, i’m sorry.