So I'm designing a hoodie for an event; I would like to create an abstract geometric/network pattern that wraps around the sleeves and the hood, such as in the rough sketch attached.

I'm planning to create the sleeve/hood patterns on AI– how to I align the pattern exactly, such that it wraps around seamlessly, without a line that indicates the start and end of the pattern?

Thank you!

hoodie pattern

  • Just like tiled patterns, patterns around a cylinder like a sleeve need to line up and connect at the join. You do this by carefully making the left and right edges match.
    – Webster
    Oct 7, 2017 at 0:03
  • Before you put a lot of work into the pattern, you should find out if it's even possible make this kind of print. Normally hoodie print is just on the front and back, not around the sleeves etc. For this to work I think you would have to print on the separate pieces of textile before sewing it together. And the sewing has to be 100% perfect for the pattern to align perfectly.
    – Wolff
    Oct 7, 2017 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


There's a trivial solution: Let your decorative pattern have discontinuities of the same type than a randomly placed seam would make. Then nobody notices the seams in the pattern. You can print your pattern quite freely onto the fabric.

Unfortunately the trivial solution exludes large recognizable shapes and long continuous curves.If you want your shapes to continue smoothly over the seams, the situation is complex.

Lets see an example. Here we have a couple of fabric cutting patterns which can belong to some shirt:

enter image description here

1) A half of the front side. AB=hole for a sleeve, BC and FA =seam with the back, DC=bottom edge, DE=edge that will get buttons, EF=seam with the collar

2) A sleeve. HI and JK will be one seam, KGH is a curved seam with the front and back parts, the dashed line at G is the symmetry axis

3) The magenta lines show the actual fabric edges. The space between black and magenta is for seam allowances and edge foldings. It's not visible, but can be printed to give some room for sewing inaccuracy.

The details of the decorative patterns cannot be drawn without these pieces. You can have the general idea beforehand, but you must carafully place the details.

Straight linear seams are quite easy. You can draw the pattern first to continue over the seam. Then you can add the rest of the shapes in the middle. In Illustrator you can for example align two copies of the sleeve side by side and draw over the seam. The seam and edge folding allowances are hided to reduce the clutter.

enter image description here

4) Two copies of the sleeve are aligned (drag with the direct selection tool one corner to snap, rotate with the rotation tool to make another corner to snap, smart quides must be ON, other snaps =OFF). The decorative shapes are drawed over the seam. Also the curved top seam KGH is covered. I gave a blue color to indicate that this is not exact at the other side of the seam.

5) All is grouped to keep it together. A copy is made and dragged & rotated to get both edges of the seam rady. All was ungrouped and the extras are deleted.

6) The decorative pattern is completed. The seam and folding allowances and are turned visible only to see the full piece.

Next we match seam AB-GK by continuing the pattern over the seam. Curves AB and GK are different in plane, but they fit when the fabric is bended. Fabric is not stretched, so the curve lengths must be same. We can measure the places, where the decorative shapes cross curve GK. If we express the places as distances from the endpoint along the curve, the same values should be ok for both GK and AB.

To make the measurement

  • separate curve GK with the scissors tool
  • let the decorative shapes on the curve stay
  • arrange GK to front, insert an anchor point to every crossing
  • take the scissors tool and split curve GK at every croossing.

In the following image the pieces of GK have different colors:

enter image description here

Illustrator shows curve lengths in the document info panel. Take subpanel Objects to see the length of the selected curve segment.

A bunch of rectangles is chained. The rectangles have widths = Curve segment lengths. This way we transfer the places of the crossings to a straight line. We do not use the rectangles as measuring tape, but draw a little simpler version with only line segments. At the bottom we have our measuring tape and a horizontally flipped copy of it. We drag them both to the brush collection and mark them to pattern brushes. The flipped version can be used, if our curve has reversed direction.

It's useful to test our measurind tape brush. It should fit perfectly to the segment GK. We test it to image 5 to reveal possible inaccuracy:

enter image description here

It looks out perfect. Next we separate segment AB in our fabric, duplicate it and change it's stroke to our measuring tape pattern brush:

enter image description here

7) Segment AB is separated with the scissors tool and got our measuring tape brush. A copy of the original segmen is moved a little aside. The fine placement relied on snaps ad was made with the direct selection tool. The red color was possible after expanding (Object > Expand Appearance).

8) The same blue circles were copied which were drawed over GK. Their placement is a little tricky. One point snaps easily. The circle häd to be rotated with the rotation tool to get another point to fit.

9) The circles are placed ok, the original AB is placed back and joined.

The drawing of the decorative pattern can be continued.


I'm not certain how effective a "pattern" would be. They almost always show edges to some degree.

A better option may be a Scatter Brush. This would allow you to drop in essentially the same "hatching" quickly....

Create a set of hatching marks...

enter image description here

Then drag all that to the Brushes Panel.... Choose Scatter Brush when asked.

Over the top of the garment shape, draw a path, any path. And then click your new brush in the Brushes Panel ( Window > Brushes ). Be certain the path's fill and stroke are set correctly as well. The Scatter brush will be applied to the path.

From here you can double-click the brush in the Brushes Panel and refine the settings, now that you can see how it is applied to a path.

enter image description here

Once you tweak settings to your liking, it's a matter of drawing new paths to lay in the hatching....

enter image description here

It will take some experimentation to determine the best hatching set and how the brush is best applied, but this is the overall method I'd pursue.


Look closely at your hoodie to choose where you can "cheat." There will be places where a pattern break/seam is less noticeable or can be avoided altogether.

You show the pattern (which I love BTW) running around the bottom of the hoodie starting and ending at the hand-warmer. The pattern bleeds the sleeve and body hem. You also show the pattern spans the shoulders but bleeds the neck.

Another approach would be to create the pattern so the start and the end is less obvious. In other words, build your abstract pattern ends to overlap where they meet instead of match in a modified workflow.

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