Cotton Plant

It is often forgotten that many of our everyday clothes started as the staple, fluffy fibre cotton which grows in a boll. The cotton plant has a truly fascinating history, cultivated since antiquity, its use for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times.

This series highlights this humble, yet ingenious plant and our close relationship to it over time.

This pro­ject was a part of my ongo­ing col­lab­or­a­tion with Kidspattern. If you’d like to learn more about them please vis­it their web­site HERE. Alternatively, view the archive of our pre­vi­ous pro­jects HERE, in which I dis­cuss in detail the his­tory and nature of our work.

All cloth­ing-mockups presen­ted here are provided cour­tesy of Kidspattern and are used for visu­al­isa­tion pur­poses only.


This pat­tern series was com­mis­sioned for a client’s Autumn-Winter Collection for girls aged up to 36 months. This also included a range for Newborn cloth­ing and accessor­ies. The col­our palette was designed by Kidspattern and con­sists of a selec­tion of two warm chocol­ate browns and a soft creamy blush, matched with two shades of viol­et : a lilac and a dark­er ripe plum.

Elements for this design were based on pho­to­graphs of a cot­ton plant. Close up shots were selec­ted in order to admire the fine intric­a­cies of the plant itself. These were divided into sep­ar­ate ele­ments and rep­res­en­ted from dif­fer­ent angles in order to use them for a pleth­ora of flex­ible arrangements.

What’s more, a lay­er of dark out­line draw­ing was added on top to high­light the details of the stem and to define the dark­er areas. In order to rep­res­ent the soft, ample cot­ton bolls, these were con­tras­ted with the stem by ren­der­ing it in two slightly tin­ted lay­ers of shading.

Newborn Collection

Both Newborn designs fea­ture only the small and round cot­ton bolls.

The first ver­sion places the cot­ton on a creamy back­ground, hav­ing first recol­oured them in match­ing soft-hazel browns. The cot­ton bolls pop out in white col­our, but are spaced out evenly and presen­ted in a large size. 

The second vari­ation, is set on a white back­ground and makes use of a fuller range of the palette. The cot­ton bolls are now gathered closer togeth­er, thus cre­at­ing a fuller print and presen­ted in smal­ler size for a com­pli­ment­ary over­all print.  

Blush Pink Background

Moving onto the slightly older age group, these pat­tern ideas make use of a full spec­trum of the palette includ­ing the viol­ets. Both designs are explor­ing the blush pink back­ground and incor­por­ate the ele­ment of the twig. 

Here, the first design has the full ele­ments of the branches arranged in a diag­on­al and reg­u­lar man­ner. The ele­ments are close togeth­er and the over­all pat­tern is presen­ted in a medi­um size in order to keep a good level of detail. 

Meanwhile, in the second pat­tern the ele­ments have been sim­pli­fied and reduced in size, then organ­ised to form a checked pat­tern presen­ted at 45 degree angle. The palette is lim­ited to just 3 col­ours. 

Violet Options

The first pat­tern here, explores a viol­et back­ground with twigs arranged in a hori­zont­al man­ner resem­bling almost zig­zag stripes. This was presen­ted in a medi­um size for a girl’s dress. 

Next, the twigs are now arranged upright and close togeth­er in a ver­tic­al man­ner resem­bling the field of shrubs that the plant nat­ur­ally grows in. With the cot­ton bolls in white, these really stand out against the dark plum background.

Dark Background

Finally, both of these ideas explore the use of dark back­grounds : one in milk chocol­ate brown and the oth­er in rich plum. 

These dif­fer pre­dom­in­antly in the size that they are presen­ted in as well as the com­pos­i­tion of their ele­ments. The first design opts for a small reg­u­lar polka dot arrange­ment, where­as the second cham­pi­ons an over­size scale with the twigs organ­ised in a dynam­ic diag­on­al man­ner. With regards to the out­line, in the first one it blends in with the back­ground, whilst it is set firmly against it in the second. 

Pattern in Print

Please browse through a slideshow selec­tion of a few examples of this pat­tern in print. These images were sourced from the client’s online shop, focus­ing on the items made for Newborn and Homeware col­lec­tions. Here, you may observe how the pat­tern was used and prin­ted across mul­tiple items and dif­fer­ent col­our­ways. The illus­trated twig was also extrac­ted and prin­ted as a spot illus­tra­tion for a match­ing set. 

Please note that these images are provided cour­tesy of the cli­ent and Kidspattern and are used for port­fo­lio pur­poses only.

“Cotton was a force of nature. There’s a poetry to it, hoe­ing and grow­ing cotton.”

B. B. King

“My child­hood home backed onto wheat and cot­ton fields.”

Robert B. Laughlin