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Glossary of Design Terminology ~ Choosing a Pattern

Ok… I love color, but I love PATTERN too (as you know from our kitchen wall, china cabinet, and our baby changing table! And I always see different patterns being used in design, but when you go to search for other examples of that pattern, there’s no way to find it without knowing some design ‘lingo’. And even after tons of searching on the internet, there’s not a single source that offers examples and names of all the patterns out there! So I set out to make one for myself. It may not be an exhaustive list of all the patterns known to mankind, but it’s some more common popular ones… many I didn’t know the name to until now! I’m loving Quatrefoil and Ikat designs lately, which I’ve heard of before, but wouldn’t necessarily be able to think of when it comes right down to it.

So below is the collage I made of 27 patterns! This is a good one to PIN so you can reference it in the future! And below I gave brief descriptions of each pattern for fun!

Scroll: resembling a scroll in shape; a spiral or convoluted form in ornamental design derived from the curves of a loosely or partly rolled parchment scroll.

Paisley: a droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Persian and Indian origin. The pattern is sometimes called “Persian pickles” by American traditionalists, especially quiltmakers, or “Welsh pears” in Welsh textiles as far back as 1888.

Argyle: a geometric knitting pattern of varicolored diamonds in solid and outline shapes on a single background color. Argyle is a branch of the Scottish clan of Campbell, from whose tartan the design was adapted in 1899!

Ogee: an onion-shaped motif. An arch formed by two S-shaped curves meeting at a point (partly concave and partly convex).

Chevron: a V-shaped pattern, especially a kind of fret used in architecture or military insignia. Also called dancette (an ornamental moulding having a zigzag pattern), similar to Herringbone.

Plaid: checkered or tartan twilled cloth, traditionally made of wool.

Houndstooth: is a duotone textile pattern, characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, suggestive of a canine tooth. Typically used in cloth for jackets and suits.

Moroccan: a type of leather made from the skins of goats, sheep, or seals, having a pattern of irregular creases.

Gingham: originated in the Malay language as a fabric woven into checked or plaid patterns (often blue and white).

Stripes: a textile pattern of parallel bands or lines on a contrasting background. Pinstripe being a subcategory!

Polka Dot: consisting of an array of filled circles, generally equally sized and spaced relatively closely in relation to their diameters. In 1854, the pattern was named for the dance of the same name, making one suspect there is a connection linking the pattern to the dance.

Floral: decorated with or consisting of flowers or patterns of flowers. (DUH!) :)

Damask: woven with one warp yarn and one weft yarn, usually with the pattern in warp-faced satin weave and the ground in weft-faced or sateen weave. Is derived from the city of Damascus and dates back to the Middle Ages.

Quatrefoil: a representation of a flower with four petals, or a leaf with four leaflets (such as a four-leaf clover). It is sometimes shown “slipped”, i.e. with an attached stalk. However, it is not defined as a flower, but called a “foil”. Commonly seen d in Gothic Architecture.

Basketweave: an all-over checkered weave pattern resembling that of a woven basket, commonly found in baskets and created from interwoven lengths of natural or man-made materials.

Trellis: a structure or pattern of interwoven strips of wood, especially one used to support climbing plants.

Bead and Reel: an architectural motif, usually found in sculptures, moldings and numismatics. It consists in a thin line where bead-like elements alternate with cylindrical ones. Common in Greek and Hellenistic cultures.

Checker: a pattern consisting of crossed horizontal and vertical lines forming squares. Derived from the ancient Persian word shah, meaning “king”, from the oriental game of chess, played on a squared board.

Aboriginal: elaborate patterns and designs created by central Australian Aboriginals and used, particularly in ground mosaics, for traditional ceremonial purposes.

Ikat: a manual weaving style that involves resist dyeing the warp or weft threads before the fabric is created. Originating in Southeast Asia, ikat fabrics can be extremely ornate and intricate, often featuring detailed designs or larger pictures.

Scales: Design created with overlapping arcs. Also called clamshells.

Fleur De Lis: a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. Appeared in artwork from the earliest human civilizations.

Fret: an ornamental design consisting of repeated and symmetrical geometric figures, often in relief, contained within a band or border. Also called key pattern.

Palmette: a classical motif based on a stylized radiating, fan-shaped palm leaf commonly found in Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, and other ancient art.

Lattice: A structure consisting of strips of wood or metal crossed and fastened together with square or diamond-shaped spaces left between.

Camouflage: fabric dyed with splotches of green and brown and black and tan; intended to make the wearer of a garment made of this fabric hard to distinguish from the background.

Vermicular having the shape or motion of a worm. (YUM!)

My current favorite is the Ogee Pattern, which I NEVER KNEW it was called that! I love how it’s funky and 70’s-ish. Here are some really cool examples of it! I’m thinking of using one of these patterns in the living room above the board and batten! What do you think?

Definitions were the result of lots of research using various Interior Design Textbooks, and websites like and

Don’t forget to PIN for referencing!

Pure Mischief
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  • bottledmalice

    Wow! This is extremely helpful! Thank you for posting this!

  • boyseverywhere

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow, orange and green Ogee. Thank you for all the information and inspiration you give me. You are completely AWESOME!!

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the reference, I “pinned” this on my board. Great Job!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think if I had to choose which one to use, I would go with either the first or the last one. (orange or brown one).

  • Mom

    I like the Ogee. But just remember, someday your kids will see pictures and say, “Mom, what were you thinking?” Didn’t we have huge intense green and gold flowers in the kitchen?

  • Bethany

    no way Mom! i LOVED that wallpaper! I could do without the gold cabinets though. :)

  • Megan

    I’ve been planning to make language cards for my classroom with patterns on them, and this is a fantastic resource! Would you mind if I posted the finished cards as a printable on my blog? I will link back to you, of course, as the source of the patterns and definitions.

  • Bethany

    certainly Megan! and thanks for linking back to us! can you send us the link when you’re done? we’d love to see the finished product!

  • Megan

    Thanks so much for permission! Here’s the link to the three part card set :) Hopefully I’ll get the definitions booklet done over the weekend, too.

  • Ann

    Hi there!
    Been reading for a while now and I love your blog!
    I just noticed that in this post, you were bummed out that you couldn’t “drag and drop” a photo into Google and have it come up with related searches. It turns out that you can! You can either drag the image directly into the Google Images search box, or click that little “camera” icon on the far right part of the search box to paste in or upload your own image. :) Hope this makes searching much easier!!

  • EuroAmerican Home

    This is super useful. I pinned and the next step is to learn them by heart.

  • Alex Colombo

    I grew up with the lattice pattern as wallpaper in my bedroom; it was bright orange and white… it wasn’t pretty I thought then, I liked stripes and florals better. I’ve been trying to find that very pattern for sometime now, so I was happy to see it here :) – thanks for the great info, I linked your post to my Resources Page for designers to use:

  • Anonymous

    thank you for posting this i like the plaid pattern

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post! It’s so nice to be able to “put a face with a name!” You might also like the “Suzani” pattern – very popular right now – and sometimes I’ve seen the trellis pattern also labeled as “gotcha.” Cute either way!

  • StaySm:)ing!

    OMG!!!! I have been searching & searching & searching for this information!! You are right when you say, it is indeed not available anywhere? Anywhere but here!

    Thank you very much! I am very appreciative & grateful to finally have this info to share with my graphic designers!


  • modern toilets

    Howdy,i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i wass
    just curious if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you stop it, aany plugin or anything yoou can advise?
    I get so mujch lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much

  • Vicki Graves

    I just found you guys this evening and am THRILLED that I did!!! You and ur hubby’s work is AMAZING!!!!! THE DIYers out here are farrrrr better off having you guys around to learn from. My husband can’t stand that I read so many blogs but even HE is pouring over your site and can’t quit. :-).
    Just wanted to say THANK YOU GUYS for all the time you spend blogging about ur DIY endeavors so that us and people like us can do what we LOVE doing and do it better :-)

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      You’re do sweet! We’re glad to have you (and your hubs!) as readers! Hehe!

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  • Cecilia Joma

    Hi there! I just found your page and I love the patterns. I was looking for them to teach in my class. My students have to describe people and what they are wearing. So I found your patterns useful for teaching. Thanks a lot.
    P.S. When I find information like this, I always include the author and corresponding links. This way I teach my students to respect copyright.

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I’m so glad you found our pattern collage useful! And thanks so much for teaching your students to respect copyright!

  • Brianna Stafford

    Hi Beth & Nick,

    Thanks for this clear pictorial and descriptive glossary of patterns. So helpful and inspiring! I linked your website in my blogpost today and can’t wait to try one of your many impressive home design tutorials!

    Thank you,
    Brianna Stafford

  • aki

    Thank you!
    this article is very useful.

    would you be okay with you if I translated in Japanese on my blog?

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Sure! As long as you link back. Thanks!!

      • aki

        Thank you for your permission to use the article.

  • Meeza Marliza

    em…Hi Mick&Beth thanks…it’s very useful for me to do my project……thanks for sharing.

  • cheryllyne

    i love the green ogee (top right). do you know where i can buy some?

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