“Recycle” – Our Latest Chelsea’s Challenge in the Textile Design Lab


This month’s design challenge in the Textile Design Lab is all about recycling–reworking old prints or creating patterns to be pieced together and used in unexpected ways. While we typically let our members choose a target market, this month we decided to switch it up and the goal for our members is to develop a collection of 3-5 patterns for children’s apparel.

The recycling theme offers a fun opportunity to create something new, or use that pattern that was too difficult to put into repeat or that you could never figure out the right layout. In the full post in the Lab we show Michelle’s process of pasting a hand-painted floral into a geometric pattern and link to helpful TDL tutorials to help our members achieve this collaged, “recycled” look.

The most exciting part of Chelsea’s Challenge for me is seeing everyone’s sketches and rough concepts develop into beautiful polished prints as the month progresses. Textile Design Lab team members and other TDL community members provide feedback on our private forum and participants also have the opportunity to take part in our weekly live art critiques for additional help and feedback. It is really one of the best ways to experience the camaraderie of the Textile Design Lab and make new friends from all over the world!

If you’d like to get involved in the challenge and become part of our supportive e-learning community, we invite you to join us in the Textile Design Lab. The deadline to complete the Recycle challenge is Monday, March 5th, so there’s plenty of time to dive in!

Repeat Downbeat: Luscious Painterly Patterns

(L) Pattern by Jen Peters (R) Pattern by Studio Josien

(L) Pattern by Jen Peters (R) Pattern by Studio Josien

In this week’s Repeat Downbeat we are exploring luscious painterly patterns. The abstract, loose painterly style of these patterns captured my imagination and I could not resist sharing them with you. I hope they delight and inspired you, as well!

First up is this beautiful painterly pattern by Jen Peters. Jen is a graphic designer and illustrator based out of Los Angeles. What drew me in to this pattern was how it was with a loose, camouflage feel, which makes the piece so intriguing! I particularly notice how she added in the delicate line work to highlight the trees and mountains in the scene.

This next selection is one that I am really excited about, as it was shared with Pattern Observer when we held our last 5-day Design Shakeup. @StudioJosien added this beautiful pattern to our #patternobservershakeup feed after completing only Day Two of the challenge. I love the bold marks and the addition of the dots as a fun accent motif. This is a great reminder of how inspiration can strike quickly when you accept a fun, “shake-it-up” challenge.

(L) Pattern by Rachel Parker (R) Pattern by Farida Zaman

(L) Pattern by Rachel Parker (R) Pattern by Farida Zaman

Rachel Parker of @pixel_thread added this beautiful photo to our #patternobserver feed. What really intrigues me with this image is how you can see her Evie floral pattern printed onto Melino Linen. I love the bright color palette and the yummy painterly texture that is expressed throughout—it really draws you in when you look at it! Check out Rachel’s Etsy page to see more beautiful work that is available.

If you are as smitten by loose painterly patterns as I am, you will want to be sure to check out the work of Farida Zaman, @fzamanart. Her Instagram feed is filled with beautiful paintings of flowers, leaves, animals, and other fun motifs. I love the loose style and bold colors that she uses in many of her pieces; very distinct and appealing.

After checking out all of these painterly patterns I am excited to get out my brushes and mix up a bright and bold color palette! If you love design, I think you’ll be inspired, as well. In order to keep inspired, please add #patternobserver to your next post so we can check out your latest work.

Have a great week!

New Year, Exciting New Partnerships

Cinnamon RoseI’m thrilled to announce a new partnership between SURTEX® and Pattern Observer. Much like Pattern Observer, SURTEX is committed to supporting up and coming designers in our industry. They have also generously offered to sponsor a series of posts and events created to elevate the work of up-and-coming designers and open up new opportunities.

With the support of SURTEX, each month a new post will be highlighted, featuring the work of one of our Textile Design Lab members. I am also pleased to announce that we’ll be bringing a select amount of Textile Design Lab member artwork to SURTEX 2018. This is going to be an exceptional experience, as we will be able to present some of our members’ artwork to the buyers and licensees attending the show and also have the opportunity to meet so many people within the community.

Moving forward, SURTEX will also offer an exciting incentive to Textile Design Lab members who wish to participate in their show, as well as sponsoring a monthly artwork critique just for TDL members. Additionally, an exciting opportunity for me personally is stemming from this fantastic partnership. I am going to be writing SURTEX’s monthly newsletter “On the Surface.” This will be a fantastic opportunity to get to know their community more, and as a result, the wealth of knowledge available to all of us will continue to grow in this exciting new year!

In our first SURTEX sponsored post I am excited to feature the work of Textile Design Lab member Gridtiya Chotiwan, or Tiya, as she is fondly known around the Textile Design Lab. Gridtiya has gone from fashion designer, to painter, to now pursuing her dream of working as a surface pattern designer. We see a bright future ahead for this designer whose incredible drawing, painting and digital design skills and unmatched eye for detail make her a force to be reckoned within our community. Read on to learn more about Gridtiya’s background and what drives her to create.


“I am a British born Thai, growing up in Asia. Raised by a Tiger mom who was a Marine Biologist and a dad who is a doctor. So I decided to rebel by going to art school instead of becoming a scientist or a doctor.

I got a BA in Fashion and Textile from Thailand and PostGraduate Certificate in Advance Pattern Cutting and Manufacturing from London College of Fashion, UK.

My first proper design job was a Childrenswear Designer working for a small company in London. Then my fate has taken me to work in MiddleEast, FarEast and Turkey (which is both Asia and Europe.) Before I knew, I had been working as a fashion designer for more than a decade!

Some few years ago, I decided to settle down and retire from my nomadic lifestyle. My husband and I have bought a house in a small town in Texas where I have my little art studio. I began my new journey as a full-time painter. My paintings went on and won several regional and international awards. I am a member of Houston Watercolor Art Society and Lone Star Art Guild.

I was also a part-time carer for my ailing family members that inspired me to create a 100% non profit art therapy program for the seniors in my local community. Everybody was free to join.

In 2017 I was awarded ‘Exemplary Art Achievement’ by The Lone Star Art Guild Texas for my art program and personal art achievement.”

GridtiyaChotiwan005 copy

“All the patterns seen in this post were the fabulous projects assigned to me from Textile Design Lab classes. Most of my motifs were hand-drawn/watercolour/gouache and manipulated by using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

I stumbled upon a TDL video on Youtube one night and instantly fell in love. I decided to join the Lab and it rocked my world. I have never known that pattern can be so fascinating! I have learned so much on both the artistic and business side from Michelle and her wonderful team along with all the support from the TDL community. Joining the Lab was one of the best decisions I have made! TDL has taught me about creating new textures from found objects to add depth into my designs. Which is totally a game changer for me.”

Being a member of the Lab has made me realize that it will never be too late to be anything and learning is a life long journey.

In 2017, I lost 3 family members from long battling with cancer and leukemia. Two of them were under my care. One of them passed just before Christmas. My best friend also passed suddenly from a heart attack in November, the very same day I lost my aunt from breast cancer.

It made me think long and hard that life is far too short for putting a dream on hold.

Though I love painting and teaching, in my heart I always love being a designer. I miss being out there again in a design world and strangely, a rat race!

So my goal would be getting myself ready for a new challenge. I would love to reboot/revamp my career as a surface pattern designer and illustrator. I know that it is going to be a long challenging road ahead of me since my long hiatus. But I am not going to give up.

My tips to share to you would be my favourite quote from an English author, George Eliot. “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” See more from Gridtiya on Instagram @gridtiya.studio and @gridtiya.arts.

Sign up here to receive the next edition of “On the Surface” from SURTEX.

Repeat Downbeat: Funky Florals


(L) Pattern by Amanda Way Caronia of Bella Caronia (R) Pattern by Bryna Shields of Francis & Faye

Bold florals and funky leaves are the theme of this week’s #repeatdownbeat. While reviewing our #patternobserver feed on Instagram, these floral and fauna focused patterns really stood out to me. I love the use of details, various motif sizes, and the way in which the motifs and details overlap and work together to create such dynamic patterns.

This beautiful pattern by Amanda Way Caronia was the first floral that I spotted and that’s why I chose to kick off the theme with this pattern. Amanda is an artist and surface designer who shows a wonderful ability to create colorful and naturally inspired patterns for the fabric, interiors, and homewares market. The addition of the background flowers brings a wonderful sense of depth to the pattern and she created a dramatic sense of movement by placing the small details and accent motifs in just the right way. You can see more of Amanda’s work on Instagram or through her website.

Brightly colored and beautifully layered, this pattern by Bryna Shields is such a fun exploration of the funkier side of floral patterns. Bryna Shields spent years building her expertise developing  surface designs for brands including Crate & Barrel, Jamberry, and Fred Meyer. She founded Francis & Faye to combine her eye for vibrant visuals and her passion for collaborating with brands that make a positive impact in the community. Check her out @francisandfaye.


(L) Pattern by Fossan Design (R) Pattern by Happy Papaya©

I was really attracted to the floral details and color palette used in this beautiful pattern from @fossan_design. I love the unique white shadow that was added behind the main flowers—it really adds an exciting pop to the design. If you are in need of beautifully printed fabric I encourage you to run over and check out all the beautiful fabrics available from Fossan Design, as they are super inspiring!

Last but not least, this beautiful fauna pattern from @happypapayaofficial jumped out to me as one of the most original patterns in the #patternobserver feed. I love the mysterious color palette and stylized illustration of the jungle scene. Happy Papaya© is an illustration and design company based in Spain. They have a beautiful collection of scarves and pillows on their website and their Instagram feed is such an inspiring dive into a world of fun jungle and animal inspired illustrations and patterns.

If you are interested in continuing to grow and strengthen your design abilities, I invite you to join us in the Textile Design Lab. This is a strong and supportive community for designers like you. It will give you access to resources, experts, tools, and opportunities to develop your design abilities. Sign up here to take advantage of some of our free resources and also consider joining the Lab before prices go up on February 1.

Upcoming Events in the Textile Design Lab

sheila_mraz-80212018 has started off with a bang and we have so many exciting events coming up in the Lab! Before our membership prices increase on February 1, 2018, I want to share information about all of our upcoming events and activities. These events are completely free for Lab members. There are no additional charges.


Throughout the year we come together as a community for various presentations. Presentations from guest experts and our Textile Design Lab team are a way for our members to explore various opportunities within our industry. Our presentations for the upcoming months includes:

  • January: How to find new clients with Sew Heidi
  • February: Trends with Laura Olivia
  • March: Designing for wrapping paper with Jessica Wilde
  • April: Attracting an agent with Jennifer Nelson
  • May: Licensing art with Ronnie Walter


Group Studies:

All of our Textile Design Lab courses are self-study and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Members are welcome to work through courses and tutorials at their own pace. But to stay connected as a community, we come together every few months to work through one course together as a community. These group-study events also often provide encouraging emails and extra resources, such as free access to WGSN, the industry’s leading trend resource.

  • February: Surface Pattern Design Mastery
  • March: NEW Activewear Course & Art of Portfolio Curation
  • May: Photoshop for Designers 1 & 2
  • June: Print Studio Workgroup
  • July: Summer of Creativity

It’s time to stop worrying and starting bringing your visions to life—both your creative vision and your vision for a more fulfilling career and life. You may not have the confidence to see this as being possible right now, but with a friend and partner like what you’ll find in the Textile Design Lab, you soon will. I would like to personally invite you to join us. There’s no stronger community for designers, and I am personally grateful to each and every member of the Lab, as well as the Lab’s experts, for how they keep us all growing in a positive, forward moving manner.

Want to check out all of our Textile Design Lab courses and tutorials? Curious what it is like to be a part of the Lab? Sign up to receive more information about joining the Lab and access some of our favorite resources – for free.


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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.