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Style Guide: Know Your Shirt Fabric Patterns

August 3rd, 2009 Comments off

Shirt Pattern List

Many variations of the major patterns exist as designers are constantly trying to come up with new and different styles. Shirt patterns are often enhanced or can be a combination of different patterns. These are the classic pattern choices.


Gingham- Gingham usually comes in a checkered pattern and is distinguished by white and colored, even-sized checks. This pattern is formed by horizontal and vertical stripes (usually of the same color) that cross each other on a white background to form even checks.  Gingham originated as a striped pattern when it was first imported in the 17th century and had become woven into a check pattern during the mid-18th century, with blue and white being the most popular choice in color.

black and white gingham

Madras- Madras is a pattern that originated in a city in East India, formerly named Madras. This summer fabric style is distinguished by a pattern of colorful checks and stripes. The stripes of a madras check or plaid consist of different colored stripes that cross each other to form uneven checks. Madras has become a popular “preppy” pattern for shorts and casual shirts.

Tartan Plaid- Tartan plaid is the pattern that is most often found on Scottish kilts. This plaid consists of vertical and horizontal or diagonal stripes that cross each other to form different sized checks. This pattern is often done in a twill-weave and should only be used as a casual shirt.

Shepherd’s check- This pattern is a twill-weave of small, even-sized, colored and white checks. While this check often resembles the gingham check, the visible twill weave is what distinguishes the shepherd’s check from gingham. The name derives from the plaid worn by shepherds in the hills of the Scottish borders. The hounds tooth pattern originated from the Shepherd’s check.

Houndstooth- The houndstooth pattern has a similar pattern  featured in the Shepherd’s check and Glen plaid. The checks that make up the houndstooth are broken/uneven and pointy-shaped (like a hound’s tooth). The houndstooth pattern is traditionally black and white but can be found in a variety of colors and on a variety of garments and accessories nowadays. 


Glen Plaid/Prince of Wales Check- Glen plaid, also known as the Prince of Wales check, is a pattern most commonly found in suits. It is woven in a twill pattern and consists of broken checks where a conglomerate of alternating dark stripes and light stripes cross each other to create a pattern of small and large checks. This pattern is usually done in a muted color with white.

Windowpane Check- The windowpane check is a pattern that resembles the pattern of panes on a window. The stripes that cross to form windowpane checks are often thicker and farther apart than the pattern found in graph checks.

Graph Check– This is a check pattern that resembles the crossing lines of graph paper. The graph check pattern is characterized by solid, thin, single-colored stripes that cross each other to form even and small-sized checks. The stripes that create a graph check are thinner than the stripes in a windowpane check.

Tattersall- Tatersall is a check pattern that consists of thin, regularly spaced stripes in alternating colors that are repeated both horizontally and vertically. The stripes that create the tatersall pattern often come in two different colors and are usually darker than the background color.

Mini-check- This is a pattern consisting of very small and even sized checks. It usually consists of one color with white and often resembles the gingham check-except that it’s a lot smaller. This pattern is more casual than stripes, but dressier than larger checks.

Pin check- This is a pattern created by pin sized stripes (about 1 yarn thick) that cross to form tiny checks that look like dots to the human eye. This pattern often consists of one color with white. This small check effect gives the shirt a textured solid effect.


Awning Stripe- Awning stripes are the widest sized stripes that can be found on shirts. These vertical and even stripes are often wider than ¼” and usually consist of solid colored stripes on white. The name derives from the wide stripe pattern found on awning fabrics. Wider stripes tend to be used mostly for casual shirts.

Bengal- Bengal stripes vertical stripes that are narrower than awning stripes but wider than candy stripes (approximately ¼” in width). Bengal stripes usually consist of solid colored stripes on white.

Candy Stripe- Candy stripes are vertical and even stripes that are wider than pencil stripes but thinner than Bengal stripes. Candy stripes are usually about 1/8” in width and are characterized by solid, bold stripes on white. The name derives from the stripe pattern found on stick candy.

Pencil Stripe- Pencil stripes, also referred to as dress stripes, are often thinner than candy stripes but wider than pinstripes. The width between the stripes varies from shirt to shirt and the stripes are almost always uneven (more white than color).

Pin stripe- Pin stripes are thin, vertical stripes that are narrower than pencil stripes. Pin stripes are usually one to two yarns thick and are sometimes broken. The widths between the stripes vary but are always wider apart than hairline stripes.

Hairline Stripe- Hairline stripes are thin stripes that are about the width of a hair. Hairline stripes are spaced very close together which gives the shirt a textured solid effect. This effect makes this a flexible pattern for shirts.

Bar Code Stripe- The bar code stripe pattern consists of different sized stripes that are closely spaced together. This pattern resembles the lines on a bar code-hence its name. Bar code stripes usually consist of 2 colors or varied tones of one color.

Shadow Stripe- Shadow stripes consist of vertical stripes with another stripe directly adjacent to it or bordering it- creating a shadow effect. Shadow stripes generally vary in width and usually consist of two or three different colors.

Special thanks to Nicole Kabbaz for working with us on putting this list together.

Researched and written by Christina Lee