Kim Kight, the fabulous fabric blogger (flogger?) over at True Up ("All Fabric, All the Time"), gave Spoonflower a lovely and thoughtful shout-out today. She talks about the democratizing power of digital production technology, which represents many of same advances for textile design that it does for industries like book publishing, photography, music, and video. Apart from giving many, many more creative people access to the tools to realize their visions, a sometimes overlooked aspect of digital production is its lower environmental impact. This is especially true in the case of textile production, which in its conventional form is highly wasteful and highly polluting. But the most pleasing bit of the post was being compared to Etsy, a site that may actually be the best Internet business ever.
…printing your own artfully designed fabric labels to go inside the gorgeous items you have made with your artfully designed custom fabric! You could size them however big or small you wanted, include washing instructions, a website address, anything! I’ll bet quite a few would fit onto a yard, and a rotary cutter would make short work of cutting them apart. How to finish edges, though–hmmm….
And in Spoonflower news:
We ran our first sample fabric yesterday using a dear reader’s design. I’ll post photos soon. It looks fabulous. Over the next few weeks we’ll be running more samples, so if you have requests please email me.
About 6 months ago or so, I had the privilege of attending a lecture given by Kaffe Fassett, sponsored by our wonderful local quilt shop, Thimble Pleasures. I remember a lot of gorgeous slides of some of his quilts and knitting projects, and I also remember a question someone asked from the audience. The question was, "Where do you find inspiration?" He sort of chuckled and said, "Everywhere! Just look around you at all the color combinations that pop up in the world!" (I’m paraphrasing here.) To illustrate his point, his next slide was of an enormous pile of colored grain sacks at a railroad depot in Portugal (or some random place like that). They were all chalky pinks, reds, blues, greens, and yellows–a really beautiful pile of just grain sacks!
So sort of in the same spirit, I recommend taking a look at the little floral vignettes that illustrator and children’s author, Jeremy Tankard has his little animal guys living among. I can’t stop looking at them in my copy of Grumpy Bird. And imagining how I might take pencil and watercolors to paper and try something similar applied to cotton one of these days….
I’ve been stewing for the past week about fabric design, as in how the heck do I come up with my own? I definitely know what I like, but there are just so many ways to go when I consider the prospect of making up something from scratch. I have a good friend who’s been running a vintage thrift shop here in Chapel Hill, Time After TIme, for the last 30 years. When I told her about Spoonflower, she told me about a customer of hers, a fabric designer, who used to come in every few months or so to buy up enormous stacks of ’30’s era print dresses. The condition of the dress didn’t matter–holes, tears, and armpit stains were all fine. This customer was buying them to copy their prints. Huh. Research on the whole issue of vintage print copyright has led me to understand that this is a pretty common practice. Amy Butler did it, right?
I do love me some vintage prints and, as friend to someone who can give me access to LOTS of them, I could have all the inspiration I needed pretty easily. But is this a legitimate thing to do? I still can’t decide…
Lately, I’ve found myself utterly smitten with Japanese fabrics, especially the nature and children’s prints I’m seeing on sites like reprodepot and Purlsoho. Sooooo tempting, though starting prices at around $18 per yard mean this stuff is not an entirely guilt-free splurge. Still, I love the interesting color ways, the dainty but sophisticated florals, the interpretation of natural motifs…
Imagine my delight at discovering that there are also Japanese children’s sewing pattern books available on Etsy! I picked up a few recently from Lemon Squeezey and Chocolate Swirl and have been obsessing over the beautiful photos inside. The patterns do seem special to me, though the ladies at my local sewing shop laughed at me for trying to slog through instructions written in Japanese. “What’s wrong with Simplicity?” they demanded. Nothing, of course. But the diagrams are generally very clear, the books are lovely, and with 20 inspiring patterns in each one, isn’t this a better way to go, centimeter conversion and all? I think so.
It’s an overcast day in Chapel Hill today and the ground is soggy from the past 24 hours of steady rain. This makes me sluggish and lazy. So here I am on the floor, sipping tea in my pajamas and cruising around online and I find All Over Print, which perfectly suits my mood. Ayelet Iontef is a fabric designer and her blog is a visual feast, just loaded with photos of luscious textiles and faraway places.
Ayelet has posted today about the traditional Indian art of block-printing fabric. I have seen these intricately hand-carved blocks in–of all places–our local gourmet foods market lately where they’re used to adorn a high-end tea counter. (Wonder if they’d sell them….) Click here to view a slide show of the entire block-printing process, starting with a chunk of wood and a roll of plain cotton.
Sometimes, a design looks better when there’s more of it. But if you have the perfect design, is it possible to repeat the image to make a pattern? You’re in luck. It’s definitely possible, and we’ll show you the way. Here’s a relatively simple technique for using Photoshop to create a repeat without requiring a textile design plugin. The steps are taken from an online column by Frederick Chipkin, the author of Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design. Note: This is to create a pattern with a tiled effect. Unless you’re using an image with a borderless white background (like mine), the image won’t necessarily match up along the edges (a seamless repeat). If you’re looking to create a seamless repeat, check out this tutorial for making seamless repeats using Photoshop Elements, or this tutorial for repeats with Picmonkey.
1. Starting in Photoshop, open the image you want to be the basis of your repeat, then modify the canvas (in the top bar, click ‘image’ then ‘Canvas Size’ to reflect the size of the fabric you want to print (35″x35″ for example). This should create a white area around your image.
2. Using the rectangular Marquee tool, select the area for your pattern repeat.
3. In the Edit menu, drag down to choose “Define pattern.” In the dialog box, name your pattern and click ‘OK.’
4. Deselect the Marquee (‘Select menu’ -> ‘Deselect’ or on a Mac, hold ‘control’ and click the area).
5. Go to the Edit menu and drag down to ‘Fill.’ In the Fill dialog box, next to ‘Use” choose “Pattern.” You can now choose your selected image as a custom pattern. Click OK.
6. The area of your canvas around the original image should now be filled with your pattern. Congratulations! You have successfully repeated an image to make a pattern. Now, head to Spoonflower, upload your design, and create something beautiful!
As noted above, the new image might not ‘match up’ on the right/left and top/bottom, so there is a tiling effect. If you’re looking for how create a seamless repeat, check out this tutorial using Photoshop Elements, or this tutorial using Picmonkey.
I've delayed my response in the hope of being able to offer a bit more technical detail, but in the absence of a perfect response I'd like to go ahead and post a few suggestions. Please forgive me if I end up needing to revise any of this [likely].
Updated info on preparing images is here.
Make sure your design is at least 150 DPI. You could create the pattern repeat on your own computer and then upload a large file equal in size to the amount of fabric you wish to order. For example, the fabric we will be using is 44" wide (112 cm), so if you wanted to order a yard you could create an image that is 42" (the printable area) x 36" (or close to that). The file size limit is 25 MB, so if your design is large you will almost certainly have to use the JPG rather than the RIF format.
You can order a swatch (8"x8"), a fat quarter (18"x21") or any multiple of a linear yard (up to 8 yards continuous). We will always recommend that you order a swatch of your design before ordering a larger quantity. That will give you a chance to examine the colors firsthand to make sure they printed as intended.
When you upload a design to your Spoonflower account, you will be able to create a pattern by tiling the image, using a half-step or half-brick repeat (which staggers the tiles), or by mirroring your image. In the case of tiling, in order for the pattern not to appear to be composed of a lot of individual rectangles, the design you upload will need to be composed so that the left side of the design 'joins' to the right side, and the top of the design 'joins' to the bottom. If you have a textile design program or Photoshop expertise, you can probably do this pretty easily. For the rest of us, however, we plan to post tutorials to help you through the process of creating patterns on your own.
File Types / Color Profile:
You will want to set up your files in RGB profile with 8 Bits/Channel (rather than 16), and to save (and upload) them as .JPG, or .PNG files with flattened layers. RGB standard is the ideal profile for printing.
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