Prints vs. Patterns: What’s the Difference?

Prints vs. Patterns: What’s the Difference?

Many people love to add patterns and prints to their wardrobes. It’s a simple way to add flair to an outfit without much thought, but what do these two terms mean? Keep reading to discover the difference between patterns and prints.


A pattern is a type of repeating design, such as geometric, stripes, and florals. You can find these designs printed on top of, woven into, or embroidered on fabrics.

Popular Patterns

There are plenty of patterns to choose from, whether you’re looking for clothing, curtains, or bedding. Let’s explore a few of the most popular.

  • Polka-dots - a repeating pattern with circles of the same or different sizes. The smaller dots create a more neutral look, while the bigger ones lean toward a statement style.
  • Herringbone - a v-shaped repeating weave that resembles a fish skeleton. You usually find it on twill fabric.
  • Stripes - a very familiar pattern. There are various types of stripes that can run vertically or horizontally.
  • Plaid - a pattern of repeating horizontal and vertical stripes of varying thicknesses. Another name for plaid is tartan, and it’s the perfect pattern for fall and winter.


A print refers to the application of the pattern. It’s applied to the base cloth using various printing methods such as screen, digital, or block. A good way to figure out if you’re looking at a print or a pattern is to flip the garment inside out. If you can no longer see the design, it’s a print.

Properly Wearing Prints and Patterns

If you’re nervous about incorporating more patterns into your everyday style, you’re not the only one. Start by sticking to neutral designs, then expand your collection as you become more comfortable. Creating a cohesive outfit is easier when you don’t have to worry about adding bright, vibrant colors right away.

Try starting with patterned accessories if starting with clothing feels overwhelming. They add a focal point to your look without feeling over the top. Find the patterns you love the most and stick with them. If stripes are your favorite, learn to style stripes first and then move to a different design. Soon, you’ll gain more confidence and start developing your unique style.

Many people use the terms prints and patterns interchangeably, but there is a difference. To better understand the difference, and receive quality advice on creating your perfect patterned outfit, turn to Express Knit. We’re among the top wholesale fabric suppliers online who offer quality materials for any sewer. Browse our incredible selection today!