Grow Your Textile Design Business

Join the thousands of artists who are sharpening their skills using our informative articles, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab

The Textile Design Lab

Members of this tight-knit community are continually improving their craft, learning new techniques, staying informed with the most up-to-date styles, and making their artwork more profitable.

Free E-Course

Textile Designer: Elie Laucher




In our Pattern Observer courses and workshops we cover the technical aspects of the textile and surface design industry. We cover layouts, repeats, trends, collection development, portfolio development, marketing, etc. I am fairly technical person so this course structure makes sense, but something that we don’t touch on, and that I am interested in exploring, is bringing an expressive quality to one’s work. Using prints and patterns to reach out and connect with people on a deeper level.

The expressive quality in the pieces that you see above is what drew me to Elie Laucher’s work. The technical aspects are all there; great layout, even color usage, etc., but I find that her patterns connect with me on a deeper level and allow me to escape my busy schedule for just a brief moment. Do you have the same response?

Elie is a “French – London based surface designer with huge interest in textile, illustration and trend forecasting.” She “always seeks to learn new things and techniques” and says that she is obsessed with repeating patterns. I think we can all relate with that last statement! Ellie worked at Collective Apparel in London as a Graphic designer, illustrator and Trend Forecaster to clients including Asos, Topshop. She is now working as a freelance designer and is available for projects. You can check out more of her work on her website.

Mastering Your Market Alumni Lotta Hallenius and Stevie Black

Mastering Your Market is our six week intensive workshop that begins on Monday, September 29th. In MYM you’ll dig deeper into a market that you already love, explore new markets, try new artistic techniques and make new industry contacts. To celebrate the upcoming MYM we are delighted to feature some of our amazing alumni collections! Today’s featured alumni are Lotta Hallenius and Stevie Black. You can read more alumni stories here, here and here. Want to learn more about what’s covered in the workshop? You can read all about it and register for your spot here.


Charlotte (Lotta) Hallenius

CharlotteHallenius2 CharlotteHallenius1

The Collection

“In this Home Textile Collection aimed at Pink Light Studio I was inspired by the summer poolside and the watery colours of green and blue. The trend I choose was Stylesight’s “impulse” for SS15.

I focused on simple graphic patterns with mostly white background. Young, fresh with a simple expression was the goal. I also like to combine patterns with a bit “retro” feel.”


My MYM Experience

“MYM was a fantastic class which I really can recommend for both beginners and more senior designers. It gave me the a deeper understanding with a lot of “tech tools” in both Illustrator and Photoshop as well as a more structured way to work. I have worked in home textiles for some years in Sweden and needed new inspiration. The best part was the great feedback from both Chelsea and Michelle and all the other students. It was inspiring to see all the other students’ work.

This class also released my fear of showing my things which I always had even if I worked such a long time…. I got new confidence. You will get a lot of positive and constructive feedback and you will grow in the way you think when being in the design process. But be committed and do all your homework!”


If you would like to learn more about Lotta’s work, she can be reached at or her Linkedin page.


Stevie Black

GUATOPO_Collection-Hispanola_Main-and-CoordsInspiration and Goal 

“For the Collection – Hispañola, the target market was Home Goods/ Textiles. Emphasis in the class was for bedding, but I conceived my collection as having multiple uses. The goal was to use our original designs, cut from paper or hand-carved stamp patterns, while my inspiration was to narrate a story about the great cultural fusion that occurred when the “Old World” met the “New World” in 1492 in Hispañola. This corresponded to one of the Stylesight trends about “cultural merging.”

The Main print is a tile-like design and has a Moroccan feel – because of the Moorish influence in design in Spain – another great cultural merging. The colorway came out of a desire to make the pattern youthful and contemporary without quoting water or colonial colors. The Coordinates were developed from shapes within the Main print and their colorways rise from the Main print, but don’t reference it exactly.”


GUATOPO_Collection-Hispanola_Main-and-CoordsInspiration and Goal 

“For the Collection – GeesBend, the target market was Quilt Marketplace. Our two company briefs were for P&B Textiles and Modern Yardage and I chose Modern Yardage because they seemed to lean more to the Geometric. My inspiration in this collection was to honor the genius of the Gee’s Bend quilters and their beautiful quilted works without apeing their style or patterns. Their ability to carve abstract, geometric compositions from mathematically-imprecise angles and edges has always thrilled me. My goal was to create prints that would appeal to art quilters who wanted to take more risks.

The Main print comes from a hand-carved stamp in our collection. The colorway is pure Gee’s Bend, bright, primary colors that pop. The Coordinates refer to others kinds of quilts from the Gee’s Bend archives; each colorway pulled a nuance from the Main print.”


My MYM Story / Experience

“MYM was truly an immersion class for me. It came along at exactly the right moment and really helped redefine what kinds of prints and patterns our studio is interested in making. Understanding more about how each industry changes and reinvents itself, and about the timetables they keep, was very important information; the experts for each segment were accomplished, honest and clear in their reviews. It was also a pleasure to see how the other designers were taking much of the same class elements and heading off in such different directions with equal success – that too was a very important component of the workshop for me.”


Stevie has a new website in the works that will soon be available at, but in the meantime you can find him on Facebook or learn more about Guatopo / Stevie Black / Gigi Mederos (Stevie’s partner in all things) at




Laura Olivia’s “Boho Collection”

Bee Eaters Chalk cushion printBee Eater Slate cushion & fabric swatch of Bee Eaters ChalkBohemiaBohemia cushion range

Do you remember Laura Olivia’s gorgeous work from our feature last fall? Well we were excited to learn that Laura recently launched a new range of digitally printed cushions, fabrics and roller blinds, all of which are available on her website.

“The ‘Boho collection’ is inspired mainly by Bohemian fashion and the Boho chic movement of the early 20th Century. It combines motifs traditionally associated with this movement with more botanical elements and bright colour palettes giving the collection a contemporary twist. Her prints include references to exotic feathers, tropical birds, Paisleys and her signature florals. Laura has purposely created prints that do not match across the cushions and fabrics yet have the same feel so that they can work together to create a more eclectic interior.

Cushions are priced at £55.00 and the cotton fabrics are £85.00 per metre, roller blinds priced upon application.”

Laura has been honing her skills as a freelance designer “for 4 years now and in that time I have worked on mainly interiors but also stationery, fashion and beauty packaging. Interior clients include Holden Decor, Arthouse, Dunelm, Tesco, Primark, Morrisons, Mori Tessuti & Ellison First Asia. I began by working with an agent but one year in to my business I exhibited at ‘One Year On’ at the New Designers exhibition in London and was spotted by UK retailer ‘Wilkinson’ which then led to working on a large vintage inspired stationery range, that was my first big break! Later on I was approached by a fashion designer and have now produced 2 collections of digital prints for resort-wear, these pics are on my website and blog. I am now working with an Indian manufacturer who supplies kitchen textile to UK and American retailers, so am working directly with clients rather than through an agent and that is the way I am taking the business forward. I would say that my business is mostly a freelance consultancy and my own products are an off shoot of this.”

For more information visit! Have a great Wednesday. -Chelsea




The History of Surface Design: Toile de Jouy

Series on the history of surface design by Julie Gibbons.


Toile prints have been around seemingly forever; and although their popularity waxes and wanes a bit, they never completely disappear. They’re always there – in your grandmother’s curtains, covering Great Aunt Mavis’s upholstered chair, or even made into your dad’s shirt from the 70s.

Toile, or more properly, Toile de Jouy (meaning, “cloth from Jouy”) is a type of print that is characterised by complex vignettes scattered over the surface of the cloth. Originally, they were scenes carved on woodblocks or engraved on copper, printed in only one colour (often red, black, or blue) onto a white or cream background.

To understand the print, it’s also useful to look at the history of the basecloth. Cotton was first imported in France in the 16th century, and quickly became the fabric of choice because it was cheap and easy to look after. Its ever-growing success was such that it began to threaten the local textile industries of wool and silk, and so eventually cotton was banned in 1686, with the ban stayed in force for around 70 years.

Christophe-Phillipe Oberkampf was born during this time and had been working in the family textile business for several years. In 1759 when he heard the ban on imported cotton was going to be lifted, he took the only piece of furniture that he owned – a printing press – and set up business in Jouy-en-Josas outside Paris. There, influenced by Rococo art and its romantic zeitgeist, he joined with engraver and designer Jean Baptiste Huet to design idyllic pastoral scenes for their fabrics. These became immensely popular. The business grew and they began commissioning other designers, and by the time Oberkampf died in 1815, the company had a catalogue of over 30,000 patterns.

PO - toile 1{Image credits – (clockwise from top left) 1. Huet, French Landscape, ; 2. Huet, la Ballon Degonesse, ; 3. Percy Kent, American Revolution, ; 4. unknown designer, Tom Sawyer, }


Toile prints were the perfect medium for spreading not only populist themes, but political messages and recording historic events too; one by Huet proudly showed off France’s scientific advancement with scenes from the first hot-air balloon flight in 1784, and other toiles featured images of Colonial expansion with sailing ships landing on tropical islands and negotiating with tribal leaders.

Other printing companies in France, England and America soon followed suit as the popularity of the toile spread.

American toiles were distinctive for their use of American themes, and included vignettes celebrating a variety of places and people, such as the American Revolution, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin and Tom Sawyer.

PO - toile 2{Image credits – (clockwise from top left) 1. Timorous Beasties, Glasgow Toile, ; 2. Timorous Beasties, New York Toile, ; 3. 640 480 collective, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, ; 4. Richard Saja, This Will Do, ; 5. ‘Etienne’ fabric from ; 6. Flat Vernacular, Toile de Derby, }


Given its history and format, the toile is the perfect canvas for exploration and subversion by modern-day artists and designers.

I first came across Timorous Beasties a few years back, and was quite taken with their irreverent toiles – scenes from around London, or their home-city of Glasgow – filled with pictures of landmarks to be sure, but also depicting drug deals, prostitutes and shoes hanging from electricity lines. New stories abound from other artists and designers too; one captures scenes from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and another features a smash-up car derby. Colour is another way designers have been stretching toile, with neon pink and dayglow yellow being used to shout their presence. And last but not least, the artist Richard Saja has been subverting vintage and antique pieces of toile though his wonderful embroideries – adding in spiked hair, clown noses and skull-embellished jackets to create new stories from old.