New Mini Ikat Pattern Collection: Tangier Teal

Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Home Goods Mockup (Plates and Tea Towel)

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday break (which, by the way, how was your turkey day?), I booked our tickets for next summer’s big adventure!

I know, I know, it hasn’t even hit Christmas yet, and I’m already talking about next summer. Hold onto your Santa hats, though. I promise not to inundate you with summer daydreams and details when you just want to sip hot cocoa and wish for a white Christmas.


I will let you in on a little secret.

Can you keep a secret?

We’re planning to visit Morocco!

Morocco sits high on my bucket list, but I just couldn’t manage a trip there when we lived in Germany. I loved the Islamic art and architecture of Istanbul, and I can’t wait to see more like it when we visit Morocco.

Bring on the color + pattern overload!


New Mini Ikat Pattern Collection: Tangier Teal

Have you heard of ikat patterns? I knew the name, but not what it meant. According to our friend Wikipedia,

Ikat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.

This explains the streaky look of ikat patterns such as in these two gorgeous examples.


I’d never made nor bought anything with an ikat pattern, so I poked around on Pinterest for some inspiration. Wow – so many different styles even within the ikat theme!

With Morocco on the brain, I decided to be bold and try my hand at coming up with my own mini Ikat collection.


Sketching Motifs

I stopped to Istanbul in 2014 on our “move” back to the US from Germany. There’s much to be said about our short stay there, but what left the biggest impression on me was the intricate beauty of Islamic patterns.

I would have dragged my husband and three kids to each and every one of Istanbul’s famous mosques (luckily for them, we didn’t have time for that!). We did, however, stop at the infamous Blue Mosque.

Using the motifs I found in my photos (like the one below), I sketched several ideas for ikat patterns.

Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Live Trace Sketches

I took my sketches, scanned them into the computer, and then imported them to Illustrator. You can see the live trace version above.

Since I wanted the geometrical shapes to be precise (and I cannot draw an even line for the life of me!), I used my sketches as a guide and redrew the forms in Illustrator with the pen tool.

I made sure to include lots of curves since ikat works well on bent and angled lines.


Ikat Color Considerations

Ikat patterns come in all palettes – bold, neutral, bright, subdued. When choosing potential color combinations for this project, I kept going back to my dreams of visiting Morocco. I knew I wanted the color scheme to be bright and bold to fit the look I was going for.

After loads of Pinterest color research (warning: do not attempt while on a deadline – such pinning can lead to hours of rabbit trails!), I settled on these two palettes.

My favorite color is turquoise, so it’s no surprise I try to sneak that into my work whenever possible. I’m not a huge fan of yellow on its own, but I felt like the warm golden tones just fit my color story for this particular collection. Plus, yellow balances turquoise out and adds brightness to the palette.


Adding the Ikat Effect to My Sketches

Once I had the motifs in digital form and my color palettes locked and loaded, I began the ikat effect process in Illustrator.

Giving shapes a streaky ikat look takes a bit of finessing. On one hand, I wanted the vertical strokes of the texture to be noticeable and distinct. On the other hand, I didn’t want the streakiness to take away from the harmony of the motif and pattern.

Below, you can see the process I went through when beginning to transform simple line drawings to colored ikat motifs. After a LOT of trial and error with the Scribble effect in Illustrator, I came up with three distinct ikat motifs for my mini collection (keep reading to see all 3!).Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Ikat Transformation Process

Turning Ikat Sketches into Repeat Patterns

Though ikat patterns can be complex in structure, most are very simple. Plus, I wanted to use a loud color scheme which usually calls for simplicity in other areas of the design. Because of this, I stuck with a plain Jane brick by column pattern format.

Once I established the structure, I played with the palette, and came up with two color ways for this mini pattern collection.

As you can see, they both feature teal, or turquoise, which makes my heart happy. Since I’ve been doing a lot of research on getting from Spain to Morocco, Tangier came to mind when brainstorming collection names.

And there you have it – Tangier Teal!

Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal


Tangier Teal Mockups

In my research, I found ikat patterns featured mostly on textile products. When designing these patterns, I thought of rugs, curtains, tea towels, and t-shirts (I LOVE patterned t-shirts – you, too?).

But as I was making these Tangier Teal mockups for you, I realized that these pattern designs would look amazing on other home goods like dessert plates. Such fun!

Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Home Goods Mockup (Plates and Tea Towel)Zirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Women's Off Shoulder Shirt MockupZirkus Design | Surface Pattern Design Mini Ikat Collection : Tangier Teal Women's Scoop Neck T-Shirt

YOUR Favorites

Now that I’ve made this mini collection, I see so many possibilities for future ikat patterns. I would love to know if YOU have any products in your home or in your closet with similar designs (or even if you have a link to a wish list or product you would love to have!).

What colors do you like for the ikat look? Do you prefer simple or complex designs? Leave a comment below with a link or a photo. I can’t wait to see YOUR favorites! 

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