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Are you a print or a solid?

2011 September 16
by elizabeth_admin

You know those ice-breaker question games that people do at parties?  I’ve just thought of one for sewists. 

“If you were a fabric, would you be a print or a solid?”


Image from




image from


I know, without one millisecond of hesitation, that I am, for sure, without a doubt, most definitely, a P.R.I.N.T. with all caps.  Underscored.  In BOLD

When I shop for fabrics, I am dazzled by prints.  Solids leave me cold.  It has to be a pretty high quality solid fabric to entice me to buy it.  But show me a print and I will have already paid for it by the time you have unfurled the bolt.  Really.  I just can’t control myself.  I know I should love solids, but it’s kind of like loving kale or cabbage, you know you should, but really, who loves kale?  Who? 

There’s a yin/yang relationship with solids and prints, don’t you think?  Solids allow you to have more prints in your life because solids expand your wardrobe so much.  So, in theory, I should love solids because of that.  However, my little crow brain is just enamored of shiny things like prints.  I can’t turn my head away from them.  I feel their siren pull whenever I see them. 

So tell me.  Which are you?  A solid or print?  And why?

P.S.  Can’t wait to see everyone tomorrow at the NY Shopping Day I am hosting with Robin.  Please join us — there’s always room for more!

35 Responses leave one →
  1. September 16, 2011

    Ooh, I think I’m probably a solid. Maybe a textured solid. In really luscious wool or silk. And in some tone of gray or brown. So boring, no? My fabric stash is full of pieces like that and I am always thinking I should buy more prints.

    That said, my favorite pieces I’ve sewn have been a combination of print and solid. Like a solid jacket with a print lining, or a print dress with solid trim. Love love love the combination.

  2. September 16, 2011

    I am with you on the prints. I have a load of prints, I don’t know what I’ll ever do with! I keep trying to tell myself that I must save my love of prints for quilting.

  3. Mercy permalink
    September 16, 2011

    Er, can I say I am a print, but I always buy solids? I think it is the contrast of the clothing and me (if you are concerned I am normal, I have hazel eyes and brown hair, not paisley). I guess inside me must be patterned. Does that make sense?

  4. September 16, 2011

    Solid. I love the classic look of a solid wool or cotton.

  5. bellniece permalink
    September 16, 2011

    I’m a print who wishes she were a solid.

  6. Meg permalink
    September 16, 2011

    Ninety percent solid these days.

  7. Helen permalink
    September 16, 2011

    Im with you. Im a print. I just can’t help myself. I want to be a nice sensible classic solid. But prints live for the moment, they are fun!

  8. September 16, 2011

    I’m a print I think, but something more subtle, like a little polkadot. Certainly not a plaid, I’m not up to matching all those lines. 😉

    I do like kale chips. And Portuguese green soup, that has kale in it.

  9. September 16, 2011

    I’m a solid, no shadow of a doubt. But that means we’re the perfect shopping companions!

  10. September 16, 2011

    I’m a print but have to watch size carefully so that I don’t end up looking like a couch cover. My best ‘prints’ are actually tartan plaids, though.

  11. September 16, 2011

    Prints. Definitely. Can’t stay away from them! I love to look at them, I love to wear them. But it’s so hard to mix and match them! Yet every time I say “no more buying print fabrics, solids only” guess what happens…’s all about the print!

  12. September 16, 2011

    I am attracted to prints more than solids, but I like wearing solids more than prints.
    I buy lots of both, just to be safe.
    Have fun shopping!! I wish I could be there.

  13. SewOm permalink
    September 16, 2011

    Who loves Kale? Me! Its my absolute favorite vegetable and I cook it pretty much weekly. So it should come as no surprise that I’m a solid. A solid solid. And I love my solids in classic, high quality fibers – wool, silk, linen, denim. I have to study prints for a long time before I can convince myself to buy them.

    If I were in NY, I’d come shopping with you. Alas, I hope you all have a blast!

  14. kristen permalink
    September 16, 2011

    my wardrobe is ALL SOLIDS. I have grounded myself from buying any more solids, in fabric or ready to wear. I have to force myself to not play it safe, not be all matchy matchy. I envy you print ladies.

  15. September 16, 2011

    P-R-I-N-T – I only play a solid in my day job!

  16. September 16, 2011

    Solid !!!!!!!!!!! Prints need to be overwhelming for me to like them.

  17. September 17, 2011

    Solid!!!! I love the classic crisp look of solids.

  18. Kaie permalink
    September 17, 2011

    I LOVE KALE! Just look at the deep green and purple, with curly edges and gracefully leaning leaves! It photographs wonderfully and is great in arrangements! What? Soups? Yeah I do it too sometimes…

  19. Kaie permalink
    September 17, 2011

    Oh yeah, and I would definitely be a print! I guess that’s why I buy so many solids…
    That’s a really great question, so fun to read everybody’s thoughts on this! Thanks!

  20. September 17, 2011

    Looove prints!!!! Shiny and colorful. Flowers, art nouveau prints and circles in particular. But if a solid is shiny and bright, I’ll take that too! 🙂

  21. September 17, 2011

    Oooo. Fun question. I am a bit torn on this. On the one hand, in *real life* I am totally a solid. Everything I have made in a print just feels so crazy, like I am hiding behind the print and not wearing it. I feel overwhelmed. I can’t remember ever liking the way I looked in prints. I often like the way prints look on the bolt. And on other people on sewing blogs. I just don’t like the way they look on me. I prefer either fitted/tailored styles or drapey styles. I always feel like the print hides the design details and without fail I love the look of a solid much more. I tend to go for deep jewel tones (blue/green/purple especially), but I also like deep red and black. I also really look for interesting texture or something that has nice drape. I am trying to venture out to different colors and new textures, but somehow I always come away with blue/teal/green/purple? I don’t do white/pink/yellow well at all. I am usually drawn to prints in the store, but I cannot often imagine how to make them look good on me. I do like to use prints as coat linings though.

    On the other hand, nearly all of my skating practice dresses are prints. Like, big/loud/crazy and often shiny/metallic/holographic prints. I mean, magpie doesn’t even begin to cover it. I think perhaps because the skating costume is so incredibly fitted I feel much more comfortable wearing a print because I feel like it doesn’t overwhelm me. On the other other hand, most of my competition dresses are solid colors, because it is much easier to create a design with sequins and rhinestones on a blank canvas. I do like to use lace though. Which is sort of like a print? But not really.

    So, erm, I guess solid wins out. But I do use prints. They are just usually metallic lycra spandex.

  22. September 17, 2011

    I am exactly like you. I am irresistibly drawn to bright and dazzling prints but I do try hard to make sure that I buy some solid colour fabrics – otherwise I would just have a closet full of clothes that I couldn’t wear together. I also like actually sewing with prints better – they make nice eye candy and are interesting to look at during the process. However, I will say that if I do make something in a solid, once it is finished I usually like it a lot – when a flat piece of fabric becomes an actual garment, it becomes a lot more interesting to look at. This fall I intend to make a lot more solid colours.

    Have a wonderful shopping day – I so wish that I could be there!!!

  23. September 17, 2011

    I love your description of what a solid does: “Solids allow you to have more prints in your life because solids expand your wardrobe so much.” It’s such a true statement.

    I tend to skew towards being more of a print person in Summer and more of a solid person in the Winter. Funny how that works.

  24. Ruth permalink
    September 17, 2011

    I forced myself to buy and sew two prints this summer. Yes, two. Definitely a solid. I hate to be noticed!

  25. Gemma permalink
    September 17, 2011

    What a fun question! I’d love to say that I’m a fun bubbly print but no, that’s not me. Really I’m a classic neutral solid….. which is pretty good too because it’s stylish, chic and timeless. I’m always drawn to prints but my imagination really gets going with solids. I get a perfect picture of how a particular solid will work up into that pleated dress or that ruffley shirt but have no idea where to start with prints!

  26. September 17, 2011

    Who could resist being a PRINT with the beautiful one that you showed.

    • sewer permalink
      September 19, 2011

      I love Liberty of London, but I would have trouble using that print, which is called “Mauverina.” It’s too big for me, at least for clothing.

      Context is all.

  27. September 19, 2011

    Definitely a solid – probably black! I love to look at prints but unless the scale is gigantic (like your chrysthanthemum fabric) I never know what to do with them. Gigantic prints end up as maxidresses 🙂

  28. September 19, 2011

    I would surely be a solid. I like to accessorize (or not) according to mood, weather, the general condition of my very own universe… seems there’d be far more options being a solid. More like a blank slate (given the right color), upon which anything’s possible.

  29. sewer permalink
    September 19, 2011

    I like kale, its dark, slightly bitter edge is satisfying and saves sweet things from being cloying.

    I am definitely a print, say, Liberty Mabelle in pink. But I would always pair it with a solid, probably black.

  30. September 22, 2011

    What if I say neither? I think I am more pattern! My favorite fabrics are woven; herringbone, houndstooth, plaid and boucle. Not necessarily solid or print.

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