Make a Repeat Pattern by Hand in 5 Steps

I thought it would be a good time to show you one of my favourite ways to make a repeat pattern.

If you don’t have a computer or you’re not a fan of Photoshop or Illustrator: this is for you!

Let me introduce you to the paper and pencil technique of making a repeat pattern.

Be warned, it can be an addictive process.

You’ll only need the simplest of things, 1-3 pieces of tracing paper, an Exacto knife, a rubber, your imagination and your favourite mark-making tool (I found that a pencil of black felt tip marker work best)

Step1: Warm-up

First things first, think about the 4 W’s (What, Who, Where and Why)

  • Why are you making this pattern?
  • What would you like your pattern to be used for?
  • Who do you want to make this pattern for?
  • Where do you want to see your pattern?

You can either mentally note your answers to the questions above or you can jot them down on a piece of paper.

I prefer the latter as it gets me thinking about the different motifs my pattern will have and the direction I would like to take my pattern when it’s finished.

Don’t underestimate this step because it can be a powerful tool that’ll set your creative noggin in full swing.

Step 2: Drawing your design

Step1 for handmade pattern

Start in the middle of your paper and begin drawing and keep on drawing.

You can fill up the paper with your drawings or draw within an imaginary diamond shape on your paper.

The important thing to remember is to avoid touching the edges of your paper with your drawings.

Why? The pattern will not match up if you do.

Step3: Scary step! Cutting up your drawing

Step two for handmade pattern

Yep! You heard it right… We are going to fold the paper with our drawing in half and then cut it up (I prefer cutting my vertical half first).

Then, turn your paper over and flip the two pieces (not unlike a pancake). So, the left piece is now on the right and the right piece is now on the left.

Step three for handmade pattern

Then tape your drawing back together.

Put the tape on the back of the paper and the important thing to remember is to try and line up your drawing as best as you can.

Step Four Hand made Pattern

Step 4: Cut your drawing, again

Step Five for Handmade Pattern

Yikes! Cut your drawing in half, again.

This time horizontally. Flip the pieces and tape them back together. Now, you’ll see there’s a big middle white space with your original drawing on the sides and corners.

This lovely white space is where you’ll fill in with more of your awesome drawings. Just remember not to draw on any of the edges of the paper.

Ta-da! You have nearly finished; you now have a repeatable tile.

Step Six for handmade Pattern

Step 4: Colour

To colour or not to colour that is the question.

It really depends on your design and its purpose. To colour you can use whatever colouring tool you see fit. The end purpose will definitely influence your choice.

  • For wallpaper- You could colour your repeatable tile and then photocopy it many times, line the pages up with your design-plaster it on your walls and make wallpaper.
  • For wrapping paper- Colour your tile and enlarge it using a photocopier to your preferred size for wrapping paper.
  • Collage or other paper crafts- Using it as a background for a collage in a scrapbook or for a different project like a paper kite, paper flower, paper lantern, paper favour bags, origami paper, the list is endless.
  • Or, better yet, you could take a leap and do your final colouring steps in the computer to edit and finish your design.

This will give you a better chance to see your pattern on other products and you also have the opportunity to experiment and create your design in a variety of colour combinations. Not sure how to colour in Adobe Illustrator? Then click here.

Pattern by Jimena Garcia

Step 5: Share

Put your pattern out into the world. Decorate your home with your final product and / or pattern, give it to someone as a present, and share it in social media really whatever feels right for you.

I find this, a good step to take with your final product (that has your pattern); it breathes life into your creation.

It strengthens your courage to continue sharing your work and quiets the judgemental part of you.

Have on awesome pattern filled week.


P.S Here is a challenge for you- how about sharing your pattern/s in the comments section or on your Instagram account.

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