Design Book Review: Best Books For Surface Pattern Inspiration

posted in: Inspiration | 2

Our most popular post on Instagram was a photo of the team’s favourite textile design books. So we’re starting a regular feature where we will review and recommend our favourite design books, starting with the best books for surface pattern design inspiration.

Here’s our top five books for when you need some ideas to move your designs on, you want to start a new project, or you need some beautiful images to start off your sketches. Have we missed your favourite pattern design book? Recommend it to us on Facebook.


Textile Designs: 200 Years of Patterns for Printed Fabrics arranged by Motif, Colour, Period and Design

by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers

If you are new to surface pattern design, and only want to buy one book, make sure it’s this one. This is the bible of printed patterns, with every type of pattern imaginable clearly categorised. It’s a great way to learn about the different traditional patterns (could you identify a Chocolate pattern? Vermicular? Eccentic? Bonnes Herbes?), and more advanced print designers may find it useful for ideas on repeat structures, borders and compositions.



by Drusilla Cole

Some modern pattern collection books can be very focused on a cutesy, vector style of design, which although popular, is not particularly unique. Patterns by Drusilla Cole is great because it showcases a whole range of modern surface pattern designs, including vectors, paintings, hand drawn, photographic, collage, stitch, and everything in between. All images are flats of the patterns, allowing you to see the detail and textures, although this does mean the repeat is not always obvious. The colours and style are contemporary and exciting, and every page is completely different, making it the perfect place to look if you need some inspiration.


England Is a Garden: A Wayfarer’s Companion

by Catherine Hamilton

This beautiful book is full of pencil sketches and watercolour illustrations of English flowers and buildings. You can pick it up online for pennies, and it’s a great resource for floral and leaf shapes, if what you want isn’t in season, or you don’t want to leave your house. 


Fashion Print Design: From the Idea to the Final Print

by Angel Fernandez

The best part of this book is the images of finished garments, and patterns printed onto fabric. Ignore the text (it’s nothing particularly useful), there are hundreds of images of contemporary fashion print designs, and examples of initial sketches, finished digital prints, and the final fabric. A good resource for fashion designers and students to highlight the importance of composition, and how different a pattern can look on screen compared to on fabric.


Textiles Today: A Global Survey of Trends and Traditions

by Chloe Colchester

While this is a more academic book than the others, it still has lots of beautiful pictures, and looks beyond traditional print to encompass weave, knit, stitch, and technology. At face value the images can inspire designs based on pop culture, structures, collage, and texture, or could also be used as a supporting read for a more in depth critical study or project.


We hope you found this useful, let us know which type of design book you’d like us to review next on Facebook.


All books were bought by Print & Press, London, and we did not receive any fees for recommending them. However, if you click on the above links and decide to buy them, we will receive a small amount of commission.


2 Responses

  1. There’s some great books menioned there. I’m wondering if theres a London library I could borrow some from.

    • I think the V&A has most of these, although I’d recommend buying the ‘Textile Designs’ book if you can, it’s such a useful resource.

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