Placement and Repeat Prints at Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, AW11, Paris.

When it comes to print designs they generally fall into one of two categories. The first is what is known as a placement print. These are prints which are a stand alone designs such as a single image or block of text. This is what is most commonly used on graphic t-shirts.

Placement prints can be printed before or after the garment is sewn together depending on how the print interacts with the seam lines. Most often a piece such as a t-shirt would be made as a garment first and then screen printed, or possibly the print could be added using a transfer process.

The images below from Jean-Charles de Castelbajac show examples of placement prints that may have been screen printed or printed digitally. Notice how the designs have no definite edge, and are surrounded by space.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, AW11, Paris.

The second type of print design is what is referred to as a repeat print. As the name suggests a repeat print is designed to be repeated endlessly next to itself to create a seamless overall pattern. Rather than creating incredibly large screenprints which encompass the whole design to be printed, and are large enough to cut your garment pieces out of, a repeat print works by creating a square of a design which can be repeated over and over so that fabric can be printed as a continual piece. We take it for granted that this is the basis behind the printed fabrics which we see rolled in fabric stores.

The actual square which holds your design is referred to as the “repeat”.
So if you imagine a square filled with a pattern, the edges of the square must always match to itself. If you put the squares side by side, or above and below each other, the design would be seamless and there would appear to be no break lines. 

For designs such as stripes or checks this is relatively simple as long as the lines are created at perfect right angles to each other. One of the challenges in doing this for patterns which are quite organic and asymmetrical is to create an even flow so that when objects are placed to appear at random, you do not get some areas where the pattern is more condensed and some where it is too spaced out. This can only truly be tested by putting the designed square into repeat and looking at the positioning of the objects within the pattern. Then through trial and error, learning how best to arrange the design, constantly reminding yourself of the squares which will be above and below it.

The designs below show examples of a dalmation print used in the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac show. Notice how you cannot tell where one repeat square begins and the next one ends.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, AW11, Paris.

These days, computers make an amazing tool for putting designs into repeat but originally textile design was a complex and time consuming process. The repeat would be tested using tracing paper to arrange and rearrange objects and the finished repeat square would be beautifully gauchedsp? when finalised. This may seem easy for a simple stripe but imagine hand painting the details on a beautiful paisley or floral, and then realising that you’ve made a mistake and need to move one of the flowers!

Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk»

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