Flower Power: A Guide to Floral Prints in Dressmaking

Flower Power: A Guide to Floral Prints in Dressmaking

Floral prints have been popular in clothing since at least the 11th century when they were used to decorate silk cloth in parts of Asia where flowers like the lotus plant were an integral part of the culture at the time. The first traders from the East brought beautiful silks printed with exotic floral designs to the West where they became highly prized. Chintz, a type of printed cotton fabric known for its bright colourful floral patterns originated in India and became incredibly popular in 18th century Europe.


A floral print is universally popular and speaks to our desire to connect with nature. It’s also more versatile than you think and whatever the trends each season, there is always a fresh take on the timeless floral design. So here is your guide to 8 different types of  floral prints, and some pattern and fabric recommendations to bring them to life, all of which can be adapted for your seasonal dressmaking plans.


  1. Traditional floral prints

    These prints typically depict flowers as they appear in real life, with intricate details and shading. Think of our  Liberty Cotton Lawns where the detail of the Lodden design for example, is off the scale. Originally designed as a furnishing fabric by William Morris, Liberty revived it as a favourite print for their dresses in the 1960s and again for their 2007 collection.


    Liberty Floral Dress Pattern

    Liberty Natasha Tiered Dress Pattern, The Foldline



    Liberty Floral Cotton Lawn Lodden    Blue Floral cotton lawn Thelma
    Liberty Tana Lawn - Lodden and Blue Floral Lawn, Thelma



    2. Ditsy Floral

    A ditsy floral is a small-scale floral pattern design that is randomly scattered on a fabric, rather than being arranged in a linear or geometric pattern. The tiny floral motifs can be closely spaced or wide apart, and the design of the flowers can be quite abstract. Ditsy florals can be in any colour combination and are commonly printed onto woven fabrics like cotton. At Fabrics Galore we just love a  ditsy floral  and there is none better than our Ditsy Floral Swiss Knot Cotton:


    Ditsy Floral Top pattern

    Marselis Top and Dress Pattern made by @mazzlemakes in our Floral Knots 


     3. Abstract floral prints

    This type of floral print is more artistic and imaginative, often featuring stylised flowers in bold, bright colours. Abstract floral prints were associated with the “Flower Power” movement of the late 1960s as a symbol of non-violent resistance to the war in Vietnam and evolved into ever more abstract floral designs in the 1970s. 

    How about a Mary Quant Style Mini Dress in our bold Andi range of floral cotton lawns? This free pattern was designed by Alice & Co in collaboration with the V&A.


    Free Mary Quant Minidress pattern

    Mary Quant Free Mini Dress Pattern by Alice & Co for the V&A


    Pink 1960s floral fabric     Navy 1960s floral fabric

    Andi Floral Cotton Lawns in White and Navy


     4. Tropical floral prints

    These prints feature brightly coloured exotic flowers and foliage found in tropical areas, such as hibiscus, palm leaves, and orchids. Always popular for summer holiday wardrobes,  tropical floral prints  are able to inject that holiday vibe into any wardrobe.


    Tropical Floral Print Pattern and Fabric

    Tropical Summer Dress by @urbanseamstress 

    We couldn’t mention tropical florals without mentioning our best-selling Frida’s Garden and we have just the right pattern recommendation after seeing this fabulous make from @lottejamiesoncrafts.


    Tropical Print Dress Pattern

    Emporia Patterns Penelope Dress Pattern by @lottejamiesoncrafts in Fabrics Galore Frida's Garden 



    5. Vintage floral prints

    These prints are inspired by designs from past eras, such as the 1920s, 1950s, or 1970s, and often feature muted colours and small-scale prints. They always look super pretty made up as a tea dress and we think any of our  floral cotton lawn prints  would look perfect made up in the Liberty Bella Tea dress. 


    Bella Tea Dress Pattern     Liberty Cotton Lawn Vintage floral fabric
    Liberty Bella Tea Dress and Liberty Cotton Lawn Emilia's Bloom


     6. Botanical prints

    These prints typically feature illustrations of plants and flowers as seen in botanical textbooks. Midway between a traditional floral and a tropical floral, botanical prints can be small and subtle or big and bold: one of our best-selling subtle versions is:

    Ladybird Meadow Botanical Print Fabric

    Ladybird Meadow Drapey Linen Viscose


    These are more frequently seen in furnishing weight fabrics, such as a traditional William Morris print or a more modern take like our cactus print fabric which shows the detail of the plants brilliantly.


    Botanical Floral Print Fabric

     Cactus Garden Furnishing Cotton

    Not only does this botanical floral look great on anything from a lampshade to blinds as a soft furnishing fabric, it can be used to great effect in dressmaking. How about a bomber jacket or even a skirt?

    7. Geometric floral prints

    These prints combine floral motifs with geometric shapes, resulting in a more modern, abstract design. Think of Orla Kiely’s prints which bring together both the geometric and the floral to make really modern prints. Although meant for furnishing, have you seen how well it works in a skirt?

    Orla Kiely geometric floral print skirt
    Orla Kiely Linear Stem in Navy Blue


    However, if you are looking for a lighter weight fabric perfect for making a shirt or top but still want that geometric abstract vibe, look no further than Bursting in Navy. This geometric floral would work really well in a shift dress to really let the pattern shine. 


    Geometric Navy Floral Fabric

    Navy Geometric Floral - Bursting French Navy


    8. Autumn Floral Prints

    When the temperatures start to cool and the leaves start to turn, designers often use floral prints to add warmth and colour to their autumn collections. Typically in softer, more muted and even earthy tones, Autumn floral fabrics are a great way to transition from Summer to Winter. A floral dress in Autumn can be paired with cosy jumpers and boots or layered with leather jackets and scarves to inject a versatile trans-seasonal piece into your wardrobe.

    At Fabrics Galore we stock gorgeous  Autumn floral prints  in cosy brushed cotton and corduroy, although it must be said the perennial best-seller is our Autumn flowers fabric range available in 6 colour-ways.


    Autumn Floral Fabrics

    Autumn Flowers Cotton 


    Find your perfect floral print

    We hope you will agree that floral prints offer a versatile and timeless design element in fashion. From ditsy florals to traditional cotton lawns and bright bold tropical floral prints, we have you covered. Discover them all at Fabrics Galore. 

    Banner Image Credit:  Isi Parente 


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    Welcome to the Fabrics Galore London online store, packed full of beautiful fabrics to inspire your next dressmaking, patchwork quilting, craft or home furnishing sewing project. We stock a huge range of different materials alongside designer fabrics from Liberty, Cath Kidston, Orla Kiely, Laura Ashley, William Morris and Alexander Henry. We source the highest quality fabrics, so whether it be a cotton, linen, viscose, chambray, jersey or wool, we have you covered.Check out our dressmaking fabric for something with drape, fabulous Liberty cotton lawn prints, quilting fabrics for patchwork inspiration or the home furnishing section to pimp your pad. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get sewing!

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