Fabrics That Clash – Good or Bad?

I have a little surprise for you all today – I surprised myself actually!  My new dress isn’t just a red tartan dress, it is a red-tartan-and-leopard-print dress!

It was originally intended to be plain red tartan, and after cutting it out I put it down on my machine – next to some remnants of leopard that just happened to be there – and the fabrics went Zing! Sew-me-together! Now!

Well, I didn’t do exactly what the fabrics told me to do.  I slept on the idea first, then sewed them together 😉

But it got me thinking – mostly I err on the side of matchy-matchy, but every now and then I chance upon a crazy combination that I do like.  It may step out of your comfort zone and not be to everyone’s taste, so it takes a certain confidence to pull it off.  I think that confidence comes from totally loving the mix on a personal level, having faith in your own taste and ideas – that way it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks!

Do you like to mix and match fabrics that clash?  Spots and stripes perhaps?  Maybe your thing is paisley and crochet granny squares! What are your favourite clashy combos?!

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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

24 thoughts on “Fabrics That Clash – Good or Bad?

  1. I love Sarah Jessica Parkers mismatched, but tonally similar florals. I love my Hobbs leopard print booties with just about everything and my leopard print wedges with everything! Your mismatch works for me.

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  2. I'd never dream of it in a million years, but looking at the two materials together, I have to agree! They do zing, in a good way! Can't wait to see you model this dress:-)

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  3. I actually love a bit of clashing and I think your tartan and leopart print are a genius combination! I'm very fond of florals and stripes together!

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  4. I totally wave the 'animals are neutral' flag on all occasions- I love this combination. I want to be it's best friend and have sleepsovers with it. Yup, that kind of love.

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  5. Zingy! This is the kind of look I love on others, but seriously have to debate before wearing myself. I think it takes a lot of chutz-pah to wear it.

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  6. This looks perfect! I'm with others, I like wearing leopard shoes or belts with just about everything. Sometimes it adds irony where I'm getting too serious, or something so I love to contrast patterns. You keep taunting me with this gorgeous fabric, Sherry! Can't wait to see…

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  7. I don't have a lot of boldness in the clashing department. Love the combo you have going on here, but I could never pull it off myself. I'm feeling brave just trying a print fabric/stripe fabric combo in an upcoming project. A clash combo I am comfortable with? Pink and red together. Historically not “supposed” to go together, but I love having the two combined in one outfit.

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  8. Good. They are very, very good. Am using up a giant stash from someone else's quilt piecing endeavors by “color blocking” blouses. Not only color but pattern is being blocked. I should not be allowed out of the house wearing some of these shirts. Your lovely tartan/leopard combination is quite tame, in comparison.

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  9. I have always told my son that if you act as though you are confident, you can get away with anything, appearance-wise (even if you aren't confident inside). He's only eight, and afraid to stand out from the crowd. Doesn't take after me, OR his dad, then!

    I really like your combination. Are you going to model it for us?!

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  10. Hmm, clashing fabrics? It depends. I think you have to work hard to make sure you have a good combo. One designer who does this a lot is Koos–and I cannot *stand* his work. Consider it the height of ugliness.

    –Paloverde

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  11. I think you have to go all out when clashing . I love a website called “Advanced Style” , where the style of older women in photographed and discussed . Its a bit like “The Sartorialist” . What is SO stylish is often the daring combinations with fantastic shoes and glasses . Its not for the faint hearted though!!! There is something so therapeutic about not caring about what others think!! I have also read though that it is a relection of frontal lobe disinhibition .That means that the parts of the brain that make us care about what other people think are degrading !!!!!! Thats other people though not us .

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  12. ohhh yeah, nice!! I love the clash. It has to be the right clash though (similar brightness or something.. ) its an aesthetic thing that like you say, you just know it when you see it. GO FOR IT!!

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