Behind The Scenes of a Colorful Design Workshop with Suzie London

NOV 19, 2018

What do you get when you combine the team at Tilly and the Buttons, the Dutch-Australian designer behind the fashion & homeware brand Suzie London and custom-printed fabric at Spoonflower? The most colorful design workshop in London, of course! Get a behind-the-scenes peek at the seamless repeat workshop and don’t miss Suzie’s tips for leading your very own Spoonflower-inspired workshop.

Suzie: In September I was invited to teach a fabric design workshop to the Tilly and the Buttons team at their London HQ. I was pretty excited as I’m a big fan of their beautifully designed sewing patterns, and stock them in my little North London shop.

To prep for the workshop, I gathered together some useful materials to bring:

  • Some of my printed fabric samples, to (hopefully!) inspire the team!
  • The Spoonflower Sample Pack containing colourfully printed swatches of each of their fabrics and papers, to help the team select which fabric base to print their designs on.
  • And a range of different drawing and mark-making tools, including coloured paper to cut shapes from and rubber stamps and inks, perfect for those less confident with their drawing skills.

With a huge range of drawing and mark-making materials, including pencils, crayons, watercolour paints, brushes, and papers, there was something for everyone to try working with to create their designs.

I started the workshop by showcasing some of my designs and the Spoonflower fabric swatches, which got the team excited about the possibilities, and was very impressed with their pre-prepared moodboards of textile designs, colours and patterns to help inspire their designs.

I then gave a quick demonstration of how to create a seamlessly repeating pattern on paper, which always gets a great reaction as it’s so simple once you know how, and yet, seems so magical! You can try creating a seamless repeat yourself with this beginner-friendly tutorial

Seeing the team super-excited and inspired, I left them to it for half an hour or so to work on their designs, using the range of materials provided. It turns out the watercolours and brush-pens were the most popular tools, and the team came up with some absolutely amazing designs!

The second part of the workshop involved me demonstrating scanning, cleaning up the digitized designs and uploading them to Spoonflower. As a professional designer, I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop for 20 years (eeek!), so it’s my preferred software for editing images. Thankfully, the Tilly and the Buttons team has Photoshop in their office, so they could all follow my steps, but there are plenty of other similar image-editing programs out there. Procreate and Pixelmator are two examples and you can find design tutorials for both here

The first thing I showed the team was how to adjust the image using Levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels…). Moving the lightest grey slider (on the right) to the left brightens the image, making the whites more white. Moving the darkest grey slider (on the left) to the right makes the blacks more black. This helped to brighten up everyone’s scans and make the ‘paper’ background disappear.

Then I showed them one of my favourite Photoshop tools, the Clone Stamp Tool, which you can find in the Toolbar. With the Clone Stamp Tool, you can select a bit of the design, such as the plain white background, and copy it onto a bit of the design you want to remove, such as the join line where you’ve taped the paper together. To select the area to copy, hold down the ‘Alt’ key on your keyboard while clicking the area you want to copy. Then you can ‘paint’ over the line and you will see it disappear.

Another really nice feature in Photoshop is being able to ‘cut, move, and paste’ your image, the same way you did on paper, but digitally, to check the seamlessness of the repeat. To do this, first note down the size of your image, in pixels, by going to Image > Image Size. You might need to select ‘Pixels’ from the drop-down menus next to width and height. Write down these numbers, then divide each of them by two, and write these down again.

Next, go to Filter > Other > Offset and type in the halved width and height numbers you wrote down. Make sure ‘Wrap Around’ is selected. You will then see your image move half-way across and half-way down (essentially back to how your design looked before your cut it up) so you can double check the seams. If you repeat this filter, your artwork will move back to how it was when you scanned it. I like to do this to double-check I’ve removed all seam lines!

Make sure you save your artwork out at 150dpi (the minimum Spoonflower recommends for textile printing) or 300dpi. Go to Image > Image Size and type 150 or 300 into the Resolution box. Make sure the Resample box is unchecked. Then save your file out as a JPG. File > Save As > and choose JPG. Remember to rename your file when saving! 

You are now ready to upload your design to Spoonflower! For a seamless repeat tile, you can simply select ‘Basic’ as the repeat, and you will see your design repeat seamlessly in the preview window.

If you’re using a single motif, such as Tilly’s Breton tee design, you can experiment with the different repeat styles. We loved how the Breton tee looked as a half-brick repeat pattern!

Tilly’s signature look, the Breton Tee, is turned into a surface pattern!

This was such a fun workshop to teach, and I was so impressed to see the team’s designs. I can’t wait to see their finished, printed fabrics!

Meet the Guest Blogger

Suzie is a Dutch-Australian designer based in London, UK, who creates ‘Pieces of joy’ – clothing, accessories and homeware channelling retro style with a fresh, modern edge. She teaches sewing, craft and design workshops across London, and has recently opened her first ever ‘Suzie London’ shop in Blue House yard in North London. You can follow Suzie’s colourful adventures over on Instagram.

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