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