Although they may look intimidating at first, border prints and panel prints are the creative sewist's dream since they provide so many opportunities to play with design and create a completely customized final result. Our sister company, Closet Core Patterns, recently sewed up a sample of their Nicks Dress in our Geometric Border Print Ecovero Viscose, and it is absolutely stunning. With different parts of the print used for different tiers of the dress, you can see how the final design was beautifully enhanced by the intentional use of the border print.
At Core Fabrics, we're building a curated collection of amazing border prints, and thought it might be helpful to offer a guide for anyone who hasn't sewn with a border print before, or for anyone looking for new ideas or challenges!
Both border prints and panel prints are exciting because they introduce a new dimension to your sewing. With strong design elements on each, these prints are like getting multiple fabrics in one! However, there are a few differences in the way their patterns are layed out, and this influences how they can be best used.
What is a Border Print?
Border Prints have a strong vertical design element running along one or both selvedge edges (parallel to selvedge), like our Floral Border Print Viscose Crepe, which features flowers along one edge and a flurry of petals on the rest of the fabric. This makes border prints great for pattern placement. When used horizontally on a garment, they can accent hemlines, necklines, and seamlines by placing the emphasis where you want it. When used vertically, they can create an asymmetrical design element that draws your eye along the length of the garment.
Here is an example of a border print with a design element on one selvedges, and what the same print looks like as the I AM Aura Dress:
Here is an example of a border print with a design element on both selvedges:
What is A Panel Print?
Panel Prints have a repeating horizontal design element that repeats in blocks along the length of the yardage, and are used often in ready to wear. Our Floral Panel Print Rayon Challis is an example of this, with a bold horizontal stripe and repeating floral motif that would be perfect for accentuating a waistline without having to use an additional fabric.
Planning Your Cutting Layout
The most important thing to take note of when planning your cutting layout on a border print is fabric width and grainline. When sewing with wovens, you generally run your grainline parallel to the selvedge. However, you can also rotate your grainline so its perpendicular to the selvedge so you can take advantage of that vertical motif running along the edge. As long as your pattern pieces are not longer than 45-60" (the width of most fabrics) you should be able to orient things the way you like.
In the case of this Nicks dress, the CCP team did just that, running their grainline perpendicular to the selvedge to take advantage of the sections of different designs. This viscose has a very similar drape either way, so the fabric remains just as fluid when cut on the cross-grain.
This is also where the playful fun comes in! Lay out your pattern pieces and play with different arrangements to achieve your ideal combination of patterns in the places you want them to sit on your finished garment. Great patterns to use are ones like the Nicks, with plenty of style lines to play off. However, border prints can also elevate simple patterns; you can play with asymmetry, or use the edge of a print like this Graphic Zebra Border Print to accentuate a hemline! When it comes to hems, make sure that you're working with a straight-ish edge, as curved seams will cut across the print and diminish the full effect of the border.
A simple introduction for working with panel and border prints is looking for patterns that have long pattern pieces (no longer than the width of your fabric!) that allow you to show the full width of the panel print along the hem. Think wide leg pants, caftans, and simple dresses (ie.Veronik Robes, Carolyn Pajamas, and Cielo Tops). Avoid anything with a very curved hem as the panel design will get narrow along the side seams where the hem curves up.
You can also work with patterns that have lots of smaller pieces - this allows you to experiment with pattern placement to emphasis some designs over others (ie. the Nicks or Pauline dress). The results can be completely unique; two people could use the same fabric and the same pattern and have two totally different (but equally amazing) results
Our Graphic Zebra Border Prints do stretch on the grain, so if you choose to use the design element on the hem, you will end up with a slight vertical stretch running vertically through the garment. To get the most of this print, use it with long, drapey patterns like wide legged pants or maxi dresses. A pair of Pietra Pants or a Charlie Caftan would look fabulous!
We adore border prints for the way they open up a whole new aspect to sewing and really give you a chance to let your creative side run wild! Have you ever sewn with them before?