Back to Blog
What is a Harlequin|

What is a Harlequin Pattern?

Diamonds are a popular motif in textile design. As a result, there are a lot of different terms textile designers use to describe the different types of diamond designs they create. As you search our licensable library, you’ll see in the Theme search menu an option to view Harlequin. What exactly does that mean?

Textile designers use the term harlequin to describe a diamond pattern with elongated shapes arranged vertically. They are point-to-point, sometimes very close together, almost touching. Sometimes though, there is space between the diamonds, and the negative space forms a lattice effect. The diamonds are usually in colors with high contrast. These types of designs are a great place to play with color. They can be wildly multicolored with lots of different colors or simply bold with only two colors.

Where does the name harlequin come from?

The name comes from Commedia Dell’arte, an Italian theatrical form popular throughout Europe in the 16th century. On stage, the harlequin characters were mischievous clowns with a sharp wit providing comic relief in the story. Harlequins created their costumes by piecing together fabric scraps in an elongated diamond pattern. Over time, this type of diamond pattern became associated with other funny, mischievous characters, such as court jesters.

Today, most patterns are printed, not sewn from scraps. However, textile mills can produce these patterns on jacquard looms for a woven version. Harlequin prints appear regularly on the fashion runways as different fashion designers work this classic look into their collections.

In the home, a harlequin print makes for a striking choice in a residential or commercial interior. When printed at a large scale, it can create a striking accent wall. Alternately, at a small scale, it can make elegant upholstery for chairs, ottomans, or pillows.

Looking for a harlequin? We have several different options in our licensable library.

Share this post


Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


Sign up for our monthly trend letter

Back to Blog