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What Is the Repeat of a Fabric or Wallpaper?

What Is the Repeat of a Fabric or Wallpaper?

When choosing a fabric or wallpaper for a home decor project, it is important to know the repeat of the pattern you are considering.  The repeat can have a big impact on how much fabric or wallpaper you need, and what that product looks like on the wall, window or furniture.

The repeat of a fabric or wallpaper refers to the number of inches it takes before the pattern starts all over again.  The distance between the starting point of the pattern point where that pattern starts over again is referred to as “one repeat.”

fabric pattern repeat

The repeat of this fabric is 13.75″ from left to right (horizontal repeat), and 22″ from top down (vertical repeat).  

Knowing the repeat of the product you plan on using in your home decor project is essential.  Because the repeat determines the number of yards needed to cover a chair, create a drapery panel or wallpaper a room, you must know the repeat before ordering your fabric or wallpaper.  A large repeat will require more yardage to complete a project, since it will take more fabric waste to match up a large pattern at every seam.  A very small repeat may have little to no effect on the yardage requirements.

Solid and textural fabrics and wallpapers often have no pattern repeat; they can be seamed together with no worry about matching up the pattern at the edges.

Any type of patterned fabric or wallpaper, however, will always have a repeat.  Thankfully, this distance has been calculated for you, and will always be listed on the product website or on the product tag.

fabric repeat

The horizontal and vertical repeats of this fabric are both the same: 7.75″.

Most items with a repeat have both a horizontal repeat and a vertical repeat.  A horizontal repeat measures the repeat from edge to edge along the width of the fabric – typically 54″ for home decor fabrics.  A vertical repeat measures the pattern repeat along the length of the fabric.  Therefore, a striped fabric will have a horizontal repeat, but will not have a vertical repeat, since the stripes go on and on for the entire length of the fabric roll.

Often, fabrics with large pattern repeats also have a very large pattern scale – think of a large floral fabric or damask wallpaper.  These sometimes feature pattern repeats of 27″ in both the horizontal and vertical directions.  In contrast, smaller pattern repeats are typically found in products with smaller-scaled patterns – perhaps a dot pattern or stripe.  These may have a repeat of just a couple of inches.

designer fabric tag

The repeat of this striped fabric is listed on the tag:  7.5″ horizontally, with no vertical repeat.

While large-scale patterns (and pattern repeats) bring more punch into a room, smaller-scale (and repeat) fabrics will save you money due to the lower yardage requirements needed to match the patterns.  Choose carefully, bringing in fabrics of all scales and repeat sizes, to get the most impact for your dollar.

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