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How to get a job as a textile designer: Talk the talk

Updated: Apr 17

QUESTION: Want to know how to get a gig in the textile design industry?

ANSWER: Sound like you know what you’re talkin’ about!

Daunted? Don’t worry, you DO NOT  have to pour over piles of reference books to learn how to talk the talk. We’ve collated some of the most commonly used words and phrases and deciphered them here.

Save yourself a TONNE of time (and possibly a pink face in a professional space:)) with this must-read list below.

Promise, you’ll thank us later!


1/2 Drop Repeat: A repeat where the motifs are repeated at half the vertical drop so the repeat is staggered visually

Abstract: A non-representational print with a focus on colour and shapes and movement rather then recognisable elements

Check: A check design is a pattern of overlapping horizontal and vertical lines// that forms squares. The pattern that originates from the process of weaving

Colour Separation: Is the process of breaking down a design into separate colour layers that represent the different colour screens that will be used to print the design

Conversational: A print that’s a novelty print with a recognisable representation and playful slant such as cats, stars, birds or hearts

Digital Print: An ink-jet printing process that involves using digital files rather then printing plates this means there can be an unlimited amount of colours in the design

Eastern: A floral design that uses oriental-style flowers, foliage and other motifs and can also highlight techniques that suggest traditional painting such as brush painting or airbrush stippling

Flat Screen Repeat: A printing process where the screens are laid flat on the fabric and the ink is applied through the screen. Each colour in the design has a separate screen.

Floral: A textile design that is made up of representations of flowers

Foulard: Is a small-scale simple geometric pattern with a spaced repeat often used on ties and shirts and scarves

Jacobean: A kind of hybrid between a Paisley and a Floral, refers to a style of English Textiles from the early 17th Century that features highly detailed, stylised and imagined exotic flowers and leaves.

Madras Check:  Is an unevenly checked cotton fabric often brightly coloured that originated in a city in India called Madras, it is now a popular ‘preppy’ pattern


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Non-Print Print: A print that is made up of abstract marks, patterns and textures often only in a few colours. These are easy-to-wear prints for people who want something that has some visual interest but don’t like wearing much print


Paisley: Is an ornamental textile design that features a curved tear-drop shaped motif

Plaid: A more complex style of check design that is inspired by traditional Scottish Tartans

Rotary Repeat: A continuous printing process where a perforated cylinder is rolled on the fabric and automatically fed with paste from within the pump.

Screen Join: A Screen join is a broken non-linear join in a repeat tile that disguises the join in the repeat making it less obvious there is a repeat

Square Repeat: A standard repeat where the motif is repeated horizontally and vertically at the same unit of measure

Sublimation Printing: Is a printing process that involves a chemical reaction where an image is transferred from sublimation transfer paper to fabric using heat

Tribal: A print design that is inspired by the art of different cultures, with a strong focus on geometric shapes

Tropical: A print design that features tropical foliage and tropical style flowers often used for high-summer apparel and swimwear prints

Watercolour: A Technique and style of painting where the paint is mixed with water to create transparent washes of colour


Thank you to senior designer, Katrina for wracking her brain for these smart and savvy explanations!

You can join Katrina over at The Print School for our thorough, highly specialised textile design courses that lift you to industry level.

They are mega-choc full, 12 month-long programs and they start from just $149AUD! Don’t get left behind, check them out!


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