What Is The Difference Between Directional And Non-Directional Patterns?

Something I wasn’t taught but quickly learnt was that patterns have directions and this can determine how you use the fabric and how it looks as a finished product.

The difference between directional and non-directional patterns is the way the pattern lays. Non-directional patterns are patterns that aren’t repeated or go in a certain direction. Directional patterns are patterns on fabrics which are flowing one way like a river.

In this article, I am going to talk about what directional and non-directional patterns are, how to use them and what you need to know about them.

What Is A Directional Pattern?

A directional pattern on a piece of fabric has to be put in a specific position for it to have a good look. Directional patterns can either be one or two-way and are usually oriented in the same direction as the length of the cloth.

One-way directional patterns are those that can only be positioned one way. For example, on a pair of pyjamas, you can have a repetitive bear design, and if the bear symbols are all facing up, then that is a one-way design.

Working with one-way patterned fabrics can be troublesome because when cutting and sewing, some waste material would not follow the right orientation if used because pieces of it have been cut previously. Hence, more money would have to be spent to get more raw fabric since you cannot use the leftover material.

On the other hand, a two-way design has a consistent design, but the design, in this case, can be flipped upside down and still look the same as when it is placed the right side up.

An example of this is a cloth with anchor designs that are arranged in columns. In one column, the anchors are lined up facing the right side up. In the next column, the anchors follow the same pattern but are upside down. Also, stripes can be considered to be two-way designs.

Making clothes from two-way patterns is more convenient and less expensive since they would not be as much wasted clothe as there would be when using a one-way material.

Before you sew clothes with directional patterns, you first have to lay them out carefully and straighten out the cut edges of the fabric so that they are correctly aligned when cutting them. 

What Is A Non-Directional Pattern?

Non-directional patterns are those that do not need to conform to any specific orientation when sewing. They are easier to work with than directional patterned fabric since you do not have to carefully align the patterns before cutting.

Furthermore, less material would go to waste since the material can be used no matter what direction the patterns face. There are two kinds of non-directional patterns, namely tossed and four-way prints.

Tossed prints always look the same way regardless of the direction they are rotated in. In this case, the objects that make up the design appear to be tossed onto the fabric since they will be pointed in every direction. Also, they have a fun and relaxing appearance.

People that are considered to be novices at sewing tend to prefer working with tossed patterns since they have a low chance of making huge mistakes and can cut the fabric at any place. 

Meanwhile, four-way prints are those that only look appropriate when they are oriented at about 0°,90°,180° or 270°.

Even though one has more leeway when working with non-directional patterns, care still has to be taken when dealing with four-way patterns since cutting them off the four angles earlier mentioned might not be suitable for the cloth being made.

Carefully Make Considerations Before Choosing a Sewing Pattern

When choosing the fabric for a project, you should consider the direction you want the pattern the follow. This will play a significant role when you are joining the pieces of fabric together.

For instance, when making a skirt with stripes, it would be ideal if the stripes meet at the side seams, and this would not be possible if the clothing is not carefully aligned before cutting.

It is also more challenging to align the fabric correctly. If one is not confident about making the cloth well, a non-directional sewing pattern will suit that individual better.

Before choosing a pattern, go through your budget because working with a directional pattern would cost more since there would be a lot more waste material. 

Difference Between Directional and Non-Directional Sewing Patterns

It is easy to tell that the main difference between these two types of sewing patterns is that when working with the directional pattern, the fabric has to be correctly aligned, and it should be used in a specific direction. In contrast, a piece of fabric can be used in multiple directions when non-directional patterns are involved. 

Clothes made with directional patterns tend to be more wearable in official settings. It is not hard to imagine someone wearing a button-down shirt with vertical stripes to a function where everyone is responsibly dressed. Non-directional patterns seem to suit casual settings better since the designs are more expressive. 

Also, as mentioned above, directional patterns are usually more problematic for novices to deal with because it requires precision if one wants the finished cloth to look impeccable.

Non-directional patterns – especially tossed patterns – allow more creative freedom. The fact that the designs are “all over the place” gives people more freedom when they sew.