asking for trouble

How I Design Repeat Patterns: Scattered Patterns

The last of my posts looking behind the scenes at how I design my repeat patterns. This one is about scattered patterns, also known as random, flowing, tossed or ditsy print.

lucky clover kawaii pillow

The aim with a scattered pattern is that the repeat is not obvious at all and the elements face in all different directions, so you’ll often see it on clothing. There’s no clear structure to the pattern, like a stripe or grid and it should look like you casually threw down the design elements. Of course, that is not really the case and getting a balanced pattern that looks random is really hard!

sakura cherry blossom kawaii scarf

The Sakura cherry blossoms print above was my first scattered pattern. With only one design element and colour, a grid or stripe would have been really boring so I had to make something more random. I used a tutorial in Cotton + Steel designer Kimberly Kight’s excellent Field Guide to Fabric Design book.

I later used that as a base for future scattered patterns. Here’s a video I made of screenshots from when I was designing the Bunny & Panda Snowmen pattern. You can see there’s a lot of moving things around so similar elements aren’t too close together.

scattered patterns

And here’s some scattered patterns I’ve made together. Having a mix of big elements and smaller elements really helps fill the space well – and add a bit of depth with a contrasting colour. The Lemons & Limes probably doesn’t really count as scattered but it did start off that way.

I hope this series has been interesting, and you’ll try experimenting yourself if you usually create more basic patterns. I find it all so satisfying and it’s one of my favourite things to do. You can find all my patterns on fabric at Spoonflower – and on scarves, pillows, clothing and more at Society6, Redbubble & Zazzle.



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 »

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