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