Now that we’ve covered all the directionality types, let’s look at different kinds of repeats. First up is the simplest — the block repeat, aka square or side repeat. For this type, the motif, contained within a square or rectangle, is repeated in straight lines across and down. The design can be spaced, with the background completely separating the motif or motifs, or packed or connected together.
Looking through the Vintage Fabric Flickr Pool there are actually very few spaced, single-motif block repeats. Why? Though they are the simplest to create, and often the first type of pattern a beginner makes, they are very regimented and weighty (not likely something you’d want to put on your body — not slimming!). Regimented and weighty pairs well with symmetrical motifs (Northern Europeans rocked these kind of designs in the 60s-70s), but if there is any flow inherent to the motif, it tends to clash with the symmetry of the underlying grid. At least, that’s how I see it.
There are very simple variations to the basic block repeat that add interest and flow. Overlapping the repeat unit, flipping alternating motifs, or making it continuous (think flowers connected by sinewy vines) might be all that’s needed to make a pleasing design. We’ll look at some examples of these variations this week.
Diamonds and ogees are considered subtypes of the block repeat, and will be covered in the weeks to come.