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What is a pattern repeat…and why does it matter?


Looking at a piece of fabric, the pattern is the design that you can see woven or printed into the fabric and repeated at intervals along the length. When making curtains with a patterned fabric, for a professional finish you really need all the curtains and joined pieces to start at the same point in the pattern, so that they match across the whole width of the window, or throughout the whole room.

In order to work out how much fabric you need to do this, you’ll need to know the pattern repeat. This measurement is taken from a point on the fabric (usually on the selvedge) where an obvious part of the pattern begins, down the length of the fabric to where the identical point on the pattern next occurs. Measuring the distance between the two points gives you the pattern repeat. Sometimes the pattern repeat will be obvious, and sometimes you might need to look a bit harder, but when you buy your fabric at Livingstone, we’ll always help you with that. Once you have the pattern repeat, and know how to measure up for curtains, you can use it in your calculations to work out exactly how much fabric you need to buy for your project.

Sometimes you’ll find that a fabric has a different kind of repeat which means that when you need to join two lengths of fabric, you can’t simply line up the pieces and have the pattern match across the width. This is because, viewed across the width of the fabric, every other pattern is dropped halfway down the previous one. This is called a half-drop repeat, a half repeat or a half drop pattern. When working with a half-drop pattern you’ll need a little more material to allow for this, and this post will help with the calculations.


Calculating the pattern repeat and knowing how to use it when cutting out allows you to buy sufficient fabric, and be confident about producing a professional piece of work. At Livingstone textiles we’ll always help you work out how much of our fabric you’ll need to get the very best results.


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