Exhibiting At Surtex? We Want to Help!

Pattern-Observer-SURTEXAre you heading to SURTEX this year? We’ll be featuring the work of Surtex exhibitors throughout the month of May and would love to share your story. If you are interested, please fill out this form by April 24th for consideration.

Please prepare:

  • Your SURTEX Booth number
  • 7-10 images of your work
  • Your Bio, a description of your work and anything else that you would like to share!

If you plan to attend SURTEX in May, please reach out to us to set up an appointment to view the Pattern Observer Studio collection. We will be exhibiting in Booth #2846 in the Atelier section and look forward to meeting you!

Wishing you the best!

-Michelle and the Pattern Observer team

Featured Designer: Cathrin Gressieker



With the support of SURTEX, each month a new post will be highlighted on Pattern Observer, featuring the work of one of our Textile Design Lab members. This month it is our great pleasure to feature the work of TDL member Cathrin Gressieker. Cathrin has been an active member of the Textile Design Lab for two and a half years and in that time has developed countless professional patterns in her signature colorful style. We treasure her presence in the Lab and are so excited to bring her patterns to SURTEX this May.

We hope you enjoy this inspiring post about Cathrin’s love for textile design and how she found her way to this field.


“I love a lot of things, but especially being creative, traveling and the feeling of aliveness and inner fulfillment these two things bring.

I did my art foundation in London in the late 1990s (serious fine art!) and had a friend that studied textile design at the renowned Central Saint Martins College (Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou and John Galliano studied there). At that time I never quite understood what this mysterious textile design thing meant and that it could be a proper job.

Fast forward 15 years, where I took the rather sensible route of studying journalism & film at the Berlin University of the Arts and becoming an editor for a travel magazine at a German TV station. And I traveled the world. And then I left this job when I had my kids to start a new life as a yoga teacher (another passion of mine).

That was 2014. From the vague idea of doing a bit of sketching and painting again, I discovered the online world of art and design classes and fully emerged myself in it for two years, taking every online painting and design course that I felt attracted to. From the financial security of my successful yoga school (and my very supportive husband) I painted my heart out, participated in art shows and learned the ins and outs of Photoshop and Illustrator. It was a genuine creative explosion. I became positively addicted to pattern design. I loved the idea that I could be productive in my little studio in my little city in Northern Germany and at the same time could be connected all over the world to other students, teachers and clients through the Internet.

I joined the Textile Design Lab in September 2015. The classes and challenges gave my designs a professional direction, I also love trends and learned so many new tricks and techniques (and still do, thank you so much Michelle and Chelsea!).

After three months of taking classes and challenges in the TDL, I sold my first pattern. After five months I found a textile agency to represent me through contacting it before a textile trade show and showing my portfolio. After one year of TDL my first client contacted me that had found me online.

Over the last year my designs have started coming to life as real products. In addition to my textile agent, I sell my designs online via Patternbank. I have seen my designs on women’s and girls’ activewear, yogawear, women’s apparel, scarves, sustainable steel bottles and other products.

Isy B. Cathrin Gressieker

I think my love for traveling and yoga very much shows in my design work. I feel mostly drawn to designing tropical patterns and activewear textures. What you put out in the world comes back to you. My mantra often seems to be: I am a tropical designer. And I have attracted clients from the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas like this (even when it’s snowing outside where I live). A very exciting tropical collaboration was with Cayman Islands fashion designer Isy Obi of Isy B. Design (seen above.) For her 2018 Mermaid Collection I designed a series of Caribbean-inspired underwater prints for kaftans and dresses and one alloverprint for all kinds of resortwear. It was a great experience to be involved in the whole process from mood boarding, choosing color palettes and matching Pantone colors to designing the prints and preparing them according to the print requirements of the factory for test prints and then the final collection.

Traveling is probably the biggest inspiration for my designs. Tropical travels have taken me to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cuba in the last years. Traveling is also my favorite sketching time as I am more relaxed with more time and I see so many new motifs. I always come back home with a full sketchbook, a lot of new ideas and fresh energy that I can’t wait to get working at the computer again. Last month I decided to upgrade from my trusty laptop to a 27’’ iMac and now I feel even more professional and gave myself some well-deserved creative credit!

I love experimenting with all kinds of mediums, I have quite an array of art supplies for painting and drawing, I stop for every beautiful flower and plant that comes my way while traveling or at home and photograph it, I like printing and stamping techniques, I love the magic, blend modes and content aware command of Photoshop and the preciseness, smooth tool and endless scalability of Illustrator. I am an eternal learner and also love experimenting with new tools like the iPad Pro (I did a 100 day project last year to learn how to design patterns with it). I am always learning and expanding my skills by taking classes through online learning platforms or local art workshops and see how I can play with it to fit my style. Designing patterns feels like play, joy and creative freedom to me.

Cathrin Gressieker_FLEO shorts_2017
When the TDL offered the women’s activewear course, I immediately knew that I had to take this course. As a yoga teacher I always have an eye on the activewear market and have seen the rise of more empowering, dynamic and fun prints over the last years as the athleisure market keeps growing and growing. Since then I have licensed designs for yoga brands (which always makes my heart flutter when my two passions meet), gymnastics practicewear, swimwear and one especially loyal customer, Fleoshorts. They are an activewear brand, that mainly produces shorts for women weightlifters (sometimes I see girls doing yoga in them on Instagram also).

I am looking forward to all the patterns I can create in the future. This excites me, how my style will evolve, what kinds of clients and collaborations will come my way. I am very happy that I can check off one thing from my design bucket list this year – Surtex, through that wonderful opportunity to show designs with Pattern Observer (thanks Michelle and Chelsea, once again!). Even though I will not be going to New York in person this time, my designs will travel there.

Speaking of traveling. What am I doing this summer? Visiting my friend from my London days who studied textile design. I haven’t seen her for twenty years. I am a textile designer now myself and she recently went back to her homeland Georgia (not the one in the US, but in the former Soviet Union). I am looking forward to talking to her about how textile design has changed over the last twenty years with the rise of computer manipulation and digital printing. I understand this no more mysterious but endlessly fulfilling textile design thing now for sure.”


See more from Cathrin at www.cathringressieker.com or on Instagram: @cathringressieker

Designing Textiles for Women’s Activewear

WOMENS-ACTIVEWEAROne of my favorite markets is women’s activewear. Patterns need to be empowering, inspiring and feminine while also flattering lots of different body shapes. I really enjoy the process…And that’s why I’m excited to tell you about a new Group-Study happening on Monday, March 19th in the Textile Design Lab: Designing Textiles for Women’s Activewear

This 5 week course is the high-value, hands-on training you’ve asked for – delivered with the same quality and interaction you’ve come to expect from the Textile Design Lab team. I filled the course with lots of design exercises and creative activities to help you learn. And best of all, the price is low, just $49/month – so you can take action without busting your budget.

In this course you will:

  • Discover who the leaders are in the women’s activewear market and what they look for when selecting patterns and designs for their work.
  • Learn how to research trends for this market and get our tips for which trends to consider and follow when designing women’s activewear.
  • Discover what motifs you should include in your designs and your portfolio to attract attention.
  • Take action. During the course, you’ll create a professional design brief for use in your portfolio.
  • Learn from real world case studies created by our experienced team of professional designers.

If you’re ready to jump into the Fashion Industry, Designing Textiles for Women’s Activewear is the perfect next step. I hope you’ll join us on Monday, March 19th. Grab your spot here.

Guest Expert Interview: Jessica Wilde

Jessica-Wilde-Pattern-ObserverThis month we have the privilege to welcome Jessica Wilde, experienced surface pattern designer, to the Textile Design Lab as our guest expert. Jessica creates unique and eye-catching designs inspired by nature and wildlife, each beginning with hand drawn detailing and combined with an expressive colorful twist. Jessica will be sharing her tips for designing for wallpaper on Tuesday, March 27th in the Textile Design Lab, but she is here today to tell us more about her work and her thoughts on the wallpaper industry.

Can you remind us of your design background and tell us a little about what you’ve been up to since your last interview this past fall?

I’m a freelance surface pattern designer and have my own brand of botanical inspired fashion and home accessories, as well as gifts and stationery. I graduated from Textile Design at Birmingham City University in 2008 and got a job as wallpaper designer for a manufacturer. I worked on domestic and contract ranges, alongside designing for client commissions for various hospitality and retail projects. In 2013 I went freelance and started designing for a wider range of products, sold designs via print studios, and have steadily been growing my own product range.
It’s been a busy few months since last Fall, I’ve been working on a range of client projects which has varied from wallpaper, plant pots to Christmas baubles! I have a trade show in May and I’m developing new additions to range for that. I also finish my MA this summer so making the most of the final few months, planning future collections and growth for my business.

Your designs are highly detailed. Could you tell us a bit about your process in developing your patterns and how much time is put into a finished design?

I usually draw motifs individually or in small groups, I find this suits for scale and keeps the design process very flexible. I then repeat in Photoshop, often with smart objects, layering with textures and colour. It’s hard to say how long the designs I do for my own ranges take, it can be a lengthy process of experimenting, testing and colouring for products, but for a stock designs being sold outright I’d generally work to average of a design a day.

Jessica Wilde-studio-Pattern Observer

Jessica Wilde’s Design Studio

What do you notice buyers looking for in the wallpaper industry? Are there industry standards for designers to keep in mind, certain subject matter or colors that are more sought after, etc?

Some designs always sell well such as damasks and florals, they just get updated or reworked in some way. Wallpaper repeats are normally 53-64cm square and need to be very well balanced, any oddities will obviously stand out on the wall. A half drop repeat tends to be preferable for this reason, and it’s best to check designs in a room set to scale and test in black and white as this highlights any issues. It’s also good to show how usable a design is by presenting it with a light and dark colourway, this can also be an opportunity to show a commercial colourway alongside a more eye-catching showstopper.

What trends are you currently seeing in the wallpaper market? (Color, motifs, scale, etc.)

Digital has changed everything, a decade ago you had to stick to a standard repeat and limited colours, but now we’re seeing large scale motifs and super-size repeats that span multiple drops or fill a wall entirely. This has been around for a while, but digital wallpapers have become increasingly sophisticated and high end. Some of the big brands are including a digital murals as part of their conventionally produced ranges, or companies specialise purely in digital. This saves on outlay, reduces risk, production constraints, and in turn offers us some really exciting design opportunities.

Design wise we can have several trends going on from luxurious maximalism to almost the complete opposite of minimalism and a return to nature. For my MA I’ve been researching the emergence of biophilic design and how nature in interior design can impact on wellness, something I think will only continue to gain momentum in the coming years.

Jessica Wilde-Design Process-Pattern Observer

Jessica Wilde’s Design Process

Can you tell us a bit about the production process for wallpaper? How do these production needs affect the way you design?

Wallpaper can either be produced conventionally or digitally, the latter has unlimited colours and the setup for this suit lower quantities, though is more expensive to print. There are very few limitations to your designs, you can really let your imagination run and create art for walls.

Conventional production requires tooling in the form of a print cylinder or screen, one of which is required per print colour. The setup is more expensive and colour is limited depending on print process, this can vary widely from 3 to as many as 20 with some manufacturers, though the more colours the more costly it is to produce. This suits mass production and the designs tend to be much more commercial, with the end product being cheaper.

When designing it’s best to have an idea which method would be used and what market it would suit, making it workable for mass production makes the design more sellable.

What do you love most about designing wallpaper and what are some of the challenges?

I love it when you see your designs on the wall, it can be a fab surprise sometimes to find them when you’re out and about or spot them launched by your favourite brands.

The repeats can be a real challenge, some designs just work, and others can be a total headache. You can also forget what scale you’re working at, either going to big or small, and you have to remind yourself it’s got to be something you can live or work with when it’s on the wall.

Jessica Wilde-Moth drawing close up-Pattern Observer

Jessica Wilde’s Moth Drawing

Do you have any tips or resources to share with surface pattern designers who are looking to develop their own wallpaper line? Where did you begin when you were starting your line?

First think about how you intend to produce the range, conventional tooling will strongly determine the design process and outlay costs involved. Digital is more flexible but needs marketing at a higher price point. Contact your local manufacturers for options, finally don’t forget about licensing if you prefer to leave the production side to someone else. For me, my designs and budget decided it, I use far too many colours and enjoy the creative freedom digital offers.


Can you give us a quick preview into the training you will be offering in the Textile Design Lab? What can people expect to learn?

We’ll cover the different markets within the wallpaper industry you can design for and the different production methods to keep in mind. I’ll also cover how best to set up your files, standard repeat sizes and share advise for selling to the industry.

Textile Design Lab members can find a link to Jessica’s Live Training in our Member Dashboard. Not a member? Get started here.


Free Live Training: Start Designing Textiles for the Women’s Activewear Market


Join me this Wednesday, March 7th for a FREE live training event! We’ll be discussing the women’s activewear market and how you can start designing for this inspiring market. I’ll also be sharing more information about our upcoming Women’s Activewear course happening in the Textile Design Lab! The free live training is this Wednesday, March 7th at 12PM Eastern. A recording will be sent out to all registrants. Bring your questions and grab your spot here.

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.