asking for trouble

Sewing Notions Repeat Process


As promised, I took a few screenshots while turning my Sewing Pins design into an exact repeat for yardage. I didn’t bother doing this for the contest because I didn’t have enough time and it wasn’t required for the entry layout. I did want to offer each design for sale separately so I’m doing that now.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.16.57

Here’s the design in Illustrator. It was already set as a repeat but the spacing wasn’t exact – if I’d have cut out a repeat there would be missing bits at the joins. So yay more maths! It’s basically a case of putting in guide lines and then lining things up. I should use the grid but I prefer to finish things off in Photoshop so this is exact-ish :)

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.23.30

Here’s the fat quarter sized pattern in Photoshop. The pins are on a separate layer to the blue so that I can try out different colourways later. To find a repeat, I basically choose the edge of two elements (in this case two of the round yellow pins) and place guides to make a corner. Then I look for where they next appear and put the guides in the same place. That should give you a rectangle containing the exact repeat area. I actually included two repeats so that people can see a full pin circle.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.22.19

There is a lot of zooming right in to 3200% to check at a pixel level that the guides and elements are in the right place. The third row was a tiny bit off so I had to shift it over a few pixels to line up correctly. Once I’ve got my repeat marked, I would now crop this and save.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.25.23

Now I need to double check that it will repeat properly. Photoshop can magically do this itself – just select the whole design and use Define Pattern.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.26.03

I can then make a new massive file, fill a new layer and add a new layer pattern, choosing my design. It will automatically repeat the design. Check out those hexagons!

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 15.26.31

A final check at close up that there’s no weird joins going on. Looks pretty perfect to me. Then it’s just a matter of saving and uploading to Spoonflower. Now that I have my repeat, I can also try out different colourways very quickly. If you’ve ever wanted one of my designs in a different colour, you should just ask as it could well be a whole 5 minutes of my time to do.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 16.01.28

This is by no means a detailed tutorial. If you’re interested in making repeat patterns, I really really recommend A Field Guide To Fabric Design by Kim Kight. It goes into a lot of detail about different kinds of repeats, colourways and patterns, as well as loads of other important information about fabric design.

This is also the last day of the Sewing Notions Co-ordinates contest so please do VOTE FOR ME! Big thanks to everyone who’s told me they’ve voted – you’re awesome :)


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

Browse the archives

Buy my stuff

other things I Do


All text, photos and illustrations are © Marceline Smith 2007-2024 unless credited otherwise. You may repost my images with full credit and link. However, do not reproduce full posts without my permission or use my images or writing for commercial purposes. Thank you!


All opinions are my own and I am not compensated or sponsored for writing about any products or services featured unless stated in the post. Links to shops and websites may be affiliate links – I receive a small commission from your orders at no cost to you, which helps me fund this site. I do not accept advertising.