Houndstooth Pattern: A Timeless Classic in Fashion and Design

There are so many patterns in Fashion that makes style so much fun. Houndstooth is a perennial fall/winter favorite you should have in your closet.

The Houndstooth pattern was first created in Scotland and foremost seen as far back as the 1800s.

The pattern uses dark and light alternating checks, and just like other historical Scottish textiles, it became a notable pattern in wool suiting and outerwear. Unlike most patterns in the same category as houndstooth, it is not made up of squares but specific repeating geometric blocks.

What is a Houndstooth Pattern?

Houndstooth pattern
Houndstooth Pattern

Houndstooth is a duotone fabric pattern, usually in black and white, identified by its broken checks or abstract four-sided shapes named for their similarity to a dog’s tooth. That was how the name of the fabric came about.

The term ‘houndstooth’ came from the term used to describe prominent jagged teeth describing that particular block found on the houndstooth. Due to the twill weave used in its construction, the cloth features a pointed design.

While the original woven wool is still the most common way to rock it, it can now be found in various colors and fabrics, including a simple print. Because the houndstooth pattern is attractive on fabric, it can be worn however you like.

It is a “yarn dyed” pattern since the fabric’s fibers are colored before being woven. Meaning; the weaving process is what produces the houndstooth pattern when it is done repeatedly and identically. The designs are interlaced by weaving the same amount of weft strands above and below.

Unlike other twills, this weave offers a stronger resistance to twisting. Based on its size, the houndstooth had a variety of functions. Houndstooth is used for purposes other than just decoration. The larger scale is preferred for coats, whereas the smaller scale is typically employed for sports jackets.

Houndstooth Fabric Origins

The earliest known houndstooth fabrics date to 1500–1200 BC and are from the Hallstatt Celtic Salt Mine in Austria.

The pattern was discovered on a piece of fabric found in a Swedish peat bog in 1920 and dates from between 360 and 100 BC, making it one of the oldest patterns ever discovered by humans. The Gerum Cloak’s weave, which used two different hues of wool to produce a pattern, was an identical replica of the houndstooth weave.

However, it was mostly unknown until the 1930s, when Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales, ordered the royal dressmakers to make beautiful garments from the textile for his casual outfits.

The fabric’s popularity expanded, and British producers benefited financially from the increased demand for the check’s newer, more interesting iterations domestically and abroad.

Houndstooth Fabrics Cost Per Yard

Houndstooth’s pattern is made up of small interlocking shapes which resemble a dog’s teeth. So, it is quite easy to recognize in an online shop. It is mostly seen in two colors, usually black and white, and monochrome patterns. You can also find it in fibers like polyester, cotton fleece, etc., other than cotton. In the past, it was only seen in 100% cotton. It should be soft and a bit stretchy to the touch because of the nature of its weave.

Houndstooth fabrics cost about $5-50. And purchasing the fabric depends on a few factors such as its usage. Manufacturers can use houndstooth fabric in rugs, hats, gloves, scarves, etc.

Houndstooth Fabric Types 

Popular houndstooth fabric types include; 

Shepherd’s check

Shepherd's check

Houndstooth can be categorized as a shepherd’s check when it is woven at specific sizes, typically around six yarns by six yarns or greater, and in colors like brown and white or black and white. Shepherd’s check is a design inspired by the straightforward plaids shepherds wore while laboring in the highlands between Scotland and England.

They commonly wore enormous, warm cloaks with this styled pattern, which they used to snuggle up from the cold wind and occasionally transport newborn lambs. Many still refer to the houndstooth as shepherd’s check since it was so intimately associated with shepherds.

Shepherd’s check is a common pattern for strong tweeds similar to houndstooth, except that it is somewhat more rustic, while houndstooth is a bit more adaptable.

Shepherd’s check can still exist in various sizes and color schemes, just like houndstooth. The shepherd’s check is called the pepita check if it is a bit smaller. This is only available in German-speaking nations.

Sharkskin pattern

Sharkskin pattern

Sharkskin textile has always been regarded as a highly attractive material suitable for a wide range of functional and just decorative uses. The material can be used for anything from apparel and accessories to athletic and marine equipment because of its distinctive weave and sleek look.

In most circumstances, a woven mixture of smooth wool can be used to describe sharkskin.

It is a smooth, worsted cloth with a typically creamy texture and a two-toned woven pattern. Usually, a basketweave is used to create this two-tone effect.

It can be done with both white and colored fibers. The result is a design where the various colored strands are arranged diagonally.

Herringbone pattern


The herringbone pattern, so called because of how much it resembles the bones of a herring fish, is made up of rectangles or parallelograms arranged in a repeated pattern (known as a wallpaper group).

The herringbone design is now widely used across various sectors and tasks. It’s used in wallpaper, mosaics, textiles (in terms of fabric composition and stylish pattern), shoe tread, security printing, herringbone gears, jewelry, and sculpture.

What’s The Difference Between Houndstooth and Dogtooth?

Houndstooth vs Dogtooth

Dogtooth is sometimes referred to and mistaken for houndstooth, but there is a slight difference between them.

The Dogtooth pattern is a structure of extensive broken-checked pattern that doesn’t use squares but pointed forms said to mimic a dog’s sharp rear fangs. While the big size is referred to as houndstooth, the smaller-sized pattern is called dogtooth.

Dogtooth is a pattern created with four dark-colored threads in the warp and weft, interweaving with four lighter-colored threads in a 2-and-2 twill weave.

The pattern originated from the Scottish lowlands and has successfully become one of the most popular patterns for wool fabrics, especially gentlemen’s outfits such as jackets. It can be utilized in a variety of sizes and colors. The pattern has always been available in at least two colors, and it occasionally has an overcheck in a third.

Dogtooth isn’t only used for menswear but also household fabrics. 

Houndstooth Vs. Herringbone

Houndstooth vs Herringbone

Both designs are twills that have a strong connection to masculinity. The term “herringbone” refers to the bands of V-shaped lines that mimic the vertebrae of a fish.

Herringbone, whose fabric is often composed of wool, has historically been a preferred fabric for men’s suits as it often gives a subtle surface without being overbearing.

The houndstooth is slightly heavier, particularly when the pattern is recreated at higher proportions. It is believed to recreate a dog’s canine teeth or a four-pointed star due to its staggering forms and sharp edges. Houndstooth is typically made of wool and is woven into blazers, overcoats, and blankets.

When you mix a 2/2 twill (two over, two under) with specific color alternations—four white, four black, then four white, and on both the warp and weft, you achieve houndstooth. The weft is occasionally inverted in herringbone, giving the pattern recognizable bands of broken diagonal lines. Herringbone is also a 2/2 twill.

Houndstooth Applications

Houndstooth is a prominent pattern in many home furnishings and accessories, including scatter cushions, headboards, and occasional chairs. Even splashbacks in kitchens have used this design. Additionally, it is cast in every color of the rainbow, with neon being the current popular style, in addition to the classic black-and-white concept.

The larger dogtooth version of houndstooth is currently fashionable in home decor and may be found in anything from upholstery fabric to wallpaper. Houndstooth fabric also looks awesome in vintage decor.

Because it functions well as upholstery fabric, it is worth applying to pieces of furniture like a sofa, armchair, or pouf in a room.

Houndstooth looks fantastic in contemporary spaces, and it can be combined with, for example, a basic cloth to embellish the back or seat of a piece of furniture. With the help of the design above, you can make unique home decor items like pillowcases, covers for the sofa, or covers for the bed in the bedroom.

Caring For Houndstooth Fabrics

Outlined below are some care methods you could use to maintain your houndstooth fabrics for better durability and performance adequately. 

  • Clean up spills right away. It will be more challenging to eliminate a stain if it stays longer on the fabric.
  • Never heat fabric when cleaning it. Stains may be set by heat.
  • To get rid of oil stains, you need a new, soft, white cloth, a raw sponge, a nylon, soft-bristled brush, and a waterless dry cleaning solution. After that, give the stain a quick and light scrub. It’s not necessary to clean the surface. The stain should be worked from its perimeter inward.
  • Check if the fabric’s design allows for bleach cleaning before tackling harsher oil-based stains. If so, apply a 10% diluted household bleach solution to treat the discoloration further.
  • Rinse with cool, clean water to eliminate all cleaning residuals.
  • Dark colors should be cleaned with extra caution to prevent light markings that may result from color transfer. Avoid excessive rubbing to prevent fading and damage to the material’s face.

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