Are you excited about Spoonflower’s recent addition of Fleece, but not sure what to make? Fleece is remarkably easy to work with, prints vivid color and high detail, and doesn't fray! Spoonflower’s Senior Graphic Designer, Robin, is here to show us how to make a custom zippered laptop case using a combination of Fleece and Eco Canvas.
Who says unicorns aren’t real? Our new lightweight, low-loft Fleece makes this nostalgic hobby-horse style toy come to life with little more than one yard of fabric, a wooden dowel, and some imagination. Spoonflower friend and DIY craft expert Lia Griffith stops by to share a video tutorial that carefully lays out all the steps for how to master this project, with the help of her cut-and-sew Unicorn Hobby Horse template available in our Marketplace.
Photographs courtesy of Lia Griffith and team!
If you've been keeping up with April's Japanese Garden Design Challenge with Sprout Patterns (currently open for voting!), then you've already seen the buzz around the launch of the new Asaka Kimono pattern from Finnish indie pattern maker, Named Clothing. Sprout Patterns Director Caroline stops by the blog today to share her fascinating conversation with the duo, getting to know the inspiration behind Named, and what it's like to work at your dream job with your sister!
Caroline: We are excited to introduce Named Clothing, a Finnish pattern label founded by sisters Saara and Laura Huhta.
Stunning nightdress is inspired by artist’s use of sleeping pills
Past works include a wedding dress made from thousands of old postage stamps
A stunning, floor-length nightdress made out of 2,000 Walgreens prescription labels for sleeping pills is the latest creation of a Minnesota artist, whose previous works include a life-size wedding dress made from thousands of cancelled postage stamps.
Dreaming of Sleep is the title of the new work by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, an artist from St. Paul, Minnesota, who specializes in making handmade paper garments. It uses materials including cotton, tissue paper and scanned prescriptions custom-printed on Spoonflower’s Woven peel-and-stick wallpaper.
The inspiration for it came to Rasmussen in, fittingly, a dream but derives before that from her own reliance on sleeping pills.
“I’m an insomniac,” she says. “About three years ago, after a particularly restless night, I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours. When I reached a few fleeting moments of sleep, I dreamt about sleeping peacefully. Shortly thereafter the alarm clock woke me and I wrote ‘dreaming of sleep’ on a pad of paper next to the bed.”
“Sadly, a satisfying night’s sleep for me generally requires medication. Dreaming of Sleep is a self-portrait that illustrates my dependence on those staples of the pharmaceutical industry.”
It took Rasmussen, 47, four months and four eight-foot rolls of custom wallpaper to make the four-foot tall nightgown. It involved her cutting and stitching some 2,000 replicas of sleeping pill prescription labels. “I then integrated a secret note to myself into the hem and completed the work,” she says.
Having only recently finished it, she does not plan to exhibit it until her next solo show, which will be in Oregon next year.
Rasmussen calls the nightdress a “sculptural object,” designed for exhibiting rather than wearing. “Although I made it my size, the structure has no give,” she says. “I can’t wear it without damaging it.”
The nightgown has been through various iterations. “I tried numerous material experiments, all of which failed until Spoonflower introduced their custom designed, on-demand, peel-and-stick wallpaper.
“I simply scanned a page full of sleeping pill labels (which I’d been saving for years), uploaded them to the Spoonflower website, and ordered the first of many rolls of wallpaper printed with them. In a week’s time, life-size medication labels appeared at my doorstep.”
“This product provided me with a paper-based substrate that mimicked the physical qualities of paper labels better than fabric reproductions. I found that if I stuck the wallpaper to another paper, I could cut the rolls of wallpaper down into individual plates and sew them to the surface of the paper and cloth gown.”
Rasmussen describes herself as “an artist who creates mixed media and handmade paper garments.” She exhibits in galleries and museums internationally.
She has created other unusual garments in the past. The most similar to her latest work was a life-sized wedding dress called Mail Order Bride that she made in 2007 out of thousands of canceled postage stamps, collected from around the world over eight years. It was designed as a comment on the mail-order bride business and its growth in the Internet age.
Rasmussen is also a full professor of studio arts at Metropolitan State University in St Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches textile design and shares her enthusiasm for harnessing the latest high-tech innovations, such as Spoonflower’s peel-and-stick wallpaper. “Such technology, coupled with quality products, opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities.”
As well as using handmade paper and now custom wallpaper in her art, Rasmussen is always on the lookout for other unusual new materials. “When I see tomato paste, dog hair, sausage casings, spent tea bags or dried fish skins, I envision a work that may be transitory in nature but rich in surfaces. I derive great joy from transforming everyday materials into something personal, meaningful and beautiful.”
Dreaming of Sleep: Details
Mixed media with handmade paper (cotton, Thai unryu, tissue paper, scanned prescriptions printed on Spoonflower peel and stick wallpaper, and secret note to self) 28”w x 49”h x 11”d 2015.
“It was intentionally executed in a simplistic shape and lack-luster palette to refer to the sterile, clinical fashion associated with the medical community,” says Rasmussen.
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen – Artist’s Statement
“When I was a little girl, a family member told me that eating tomatoes would make me “big, strong and hairy chested.” I avoided eating tomatoes for twenty years.
“As a general rule, my sculptural work is inspired by childhood myths or adult anxieties regarding my body. Like my childhood association between the consumption of tomatoes and the growth of chest hair, I sometimes find body-stories or body-experiences to be simultaneously comical and horrifying. It is often these extremes in emotional reactions that drive me to produce the work, in an attempt to better comprehend each situation.”
“I use clothing as subject matter because it provides me a ground on which to investigate identity and corporeality. My garments are metaphors. They can encompass narrative qualities, illustrate and dissolve bodily fears, or act as talismanic devices.”
Warm sunshine, and spring buds popping up here in North Carolina makes us want to sew up some fresh projects worthy of the spring's first soiree. These garden party-themed fabrics are my favorite picks for this season's sun dresses and picnic blankets. See even more spring-flavored fabrics in the Spoonflower marketplace of indie designers!
Bonnie greens by Wolfie_and_the_sneak
Party 1 by Kristinnohe
Succulent Succulents by Emilyannstudio
Tennis Racquets Black by Freshlypieced
Garden Bears by Bethan_Janine
Daffodils in Pink by Aprilmariemai
MQG // Modern Quilt Garden by Sammyk
Hedgehog Garden Party by dianef
Happy spring sewing!
Time for a Spoonflower status update: Berlin edition! If you've been curious about how things are going at the new Berlin office and want to stay in the know, read on as Spoonflower crew member Allie shares an update on the new space. Meet some new German team members, and behold the early stages of what will soon be a bustling factory cranking out custom-printed fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap for our European friends.
This spring, we are thrilled to announce that Spoonflower will be hosting a RARE Bear sew-in at the Greenhouse to support RARE Science! RARE Science is a national non-profit that helps find cures for kids with rare diseases. The RARE Bear program is a grassroots community-driven outreach initiative for kids with rare disease. Community volunteers create one-of-a-kind teddy bears for one-of-a-kind “rare kids." We couldn't be more excited to be joining the RARE Bear army!
2016 may just be “The Year of the Handmade Undies” and we’re totally embracing it. Handmade intimates? File under: Things we love. Today, we are so excited to have Spoonflower’s Aussie friend and maker, Sophie, of Ada Spragg stop by the blog to share some pro-tips for making your own under-garments using Spoonflower’s new undie-friendly Cotton Spandex Jersey. Are you ready to get intimate with your sewing projects? If yes, prepare to be inspired!
Sophie: Have you ever considered sewing your own intimates? If not, today’s project will open your eyes! I like to think of sewing underwear as the ultimate quickie project. It’s so easy. And fun. And we all love satisfying sews. Did I mention it uses hardly any fabric at all? Less than a fat quarter per separate piece. I don’t know about you, but I always feel a sense of smug satisfaction at making something with as little fabric as possible…kind of like using up every cut of meat. And when sewing with such a small quantity of fabric there’s a sense that, well, if things don’t work out then you haven’t wasted 3.5 yards of Silk Crepe de Chine. And if you’re already sewing most of your own clothes or a good portion of them, sewing underwear feels like next level self-sufficiency.
Materials & tools
Let’s start first with the list of materials that you will need to finish your quilt. You can collect these materials and get everything ready so you are ready to sew when your fabric arrives.
- Quilt Top: Your Cheater Quilt Fabric (1 yard) ordered from Spoonflower
- Quilt Backing & Binding: 2 yards of coordinating fabric. I ordered a coordinating gradient fabric from Spoonflower for the backing and binding. You could also use 2 yards of a solid color. If you choose another fabric, it needs to be the same width (56 inches) as your quilt top and should be a similar weight.
- Batting: 40 x 60 inches. I like 100% cotton batting for my quilts. My favorite is Warm & Natural by the Warm Company.
- Masking tape
- Large safety pins (you need at least 100)
- Rotary cutter, mat and ruler
- Coordinating sewing thread
- Sharp sewing scissors
- Sewing needle. I recommend a small embroidery needle because they have a large eye which is easy to thread.
- Your sewing machine
- Seam ripper (because you know you will need one)
- Optional. If you want to tie your quilt instead of machine quilting, you will want to get embroidery thread or perle cotton in a coordinating color.
I want to start out by saying right away that there is no “right” way to make a quilt. I am going to give you the steps I used to make this quilt, but there are many different ways to put them together. I used the sewing machine to assemble and do the quilting for my quilt, but you can also hand quilt or tie your quilt. I will talk about those options in the next lesson.
Setting up your machine.
Make sure your sewing machine is in good working order. Take a minute to brush away the dust and lint. It is always a good idea to put in a new sewing machine needle when you start a big project. For this project, you need just a basic needle for mid-weight fabrics.
Choose a thread color and wind a bobbin or two. For my quilt, I chose to use a rainbow variegated thread in the bobbin for everything and I switched colors for the top thread to match the colored block I was quilting.
Make sure you have plenty of space. This will be a somewhat large and unwieldy piece of fabric to be stitching. Make sure you have extra table space to the side and back of your machine so that you can move it around freely.
If your machine has a walking foot, you might consider using it for this project as they are designed to help with thick layers of fabric and will help keep the layers from shifting as you quilt. Here is a post that tells you more about walking feet and how to use them.
Quilt skills and vocabulary.
These are some basic sewing skills and vocabulary to review before you start making your quilt. If you don’t feel confident, practice with some scrap fabric before you dive into your quilt. Potholders make great practice quilt projects!
Straight stitch. Set up your machine to stitch a basic straight stitch. For my machine, I like a stitch length of about 2.5, which is about 10 stitches to the inch. Make a swatch with a couple of scraps of fabric and batting and see if the stitches look the way you want them too.
Pivot. I traced concentric squares around the center, middle row and outside edge of all of the patchwork blocks with quilting. This means I am going to need to pivot at a lot of corners to make those squares. To pivot, slow down as you get right to the end of the quilting line. Stop with the needle in the fabric. Pick up the presser foot, rotate the fabric 90 degrees, and put the presser foot back down to continue stitching.
Backtack. Backtacking means to make 3-4 stitches in reverse at the beginning and end of your stitching line. This reinforces the end of the stitching. We will use this when putting on the quilt binding.
Selvedge. The selvedge edge of the fabric are the finished woven edges that follow the lengthwise grain of the fabric.
Binding. The quilt binding is the narrow strip of fabric around the outside edge of the quilt that you use to finish off the raw edges. For this quilt, I used the extra backing fabric to make the binding as well.
Preparing your fabrics.
As soon as you have your quilt fabrics, take a minute to admire them and then wash, dry and press each fabric. I always pre-wash fabrics because I want to make sure that if they are going to shrink or change in any way that they do it before I sew. For sateen fabric, Spoonflower recommends to machine wash warm or cool on a gentle/delicate setting, using phosphate-free detergent.
Finishing your quilt.
The first step in the quilting process is to trim your fabrics to size.
- Quilt top. Trim away the selvedges and extra unprinted edges. Set this aside.
- Backing. Cut a piece from the 2 yds of backing fabric that is 56” (full width) x 40 inches. We want the backing to be a little larger than the front to start.
- Binding. Fold the remaining piece of backing fabric in half, matching the selvedges. We will cut these pieces doubled, perpendicular to the selvedges. Using the rotary cutter and ruler, cut 4 strips that are each 3 inches wide. Trim away the unprinted edges and selvedges.
The remaining backing fabric you can set aside for another use.
Laying out the quilt layers.
You will need a large table or other flat space to lay out your quilt. I don’t have a table that’s large enough, so I end up using the well-swept hardwood floor in my dining room. Lay the backing fabric face down on the table. Using small strips of masking tape, tape the corners and sides of the backing fabric to the table. Pull it smooth and tight, but don’t pull so hard that you distort the fabric. Taping down the fabric allows you to get all of the layers smooth without adding any wrinkles or puckers underneath where you can’t see it. Add a couple of extra strips of tape to mark where the edges of the printing are on the selvedge edges of your
backing fabric. This will help you line up the top layer.
Place the batting on top of the backing fabric. Starting from the center, smooth the batting all the way to the edges. The batting will want to stick to the backing fabric, so you may have to pick it up and lay it back down if you have large puckers or wrinkles.
Place the quilt top face up on the top. Placing the quilt top takes just a little patience to get it aligned just right. Since your backing fabric is exactly the same printed width as the top, you want to alight carefully so that the top isn’t hanging over into the unprinted area. Use the extra tape marks to help line it up. Again, starting in the center, smooth the fabric all the way to the edges. Be careful not to distort or skew the fabric. Patience will pay off.
Using the safety pins, pin through all of the layers about every 4-6 inches. I put about 9 pins in each patchwork block and then put a pin every 6 inches around, placed about 3 inches in from the outside edge. Use lots of pins. They are going to keep everything from shifting as you quilt it.
Choose your quilting.
It is important to do something to hold all of the layers of the quilt together and that is where quilting or tying comes in. You have 3 options for quilting your quilt: by machine, by hand, or tying.
Machine quilting. I machine quilted my quilt by stitching concentric squares in each patchwork block. I chose a top thread color to match the color of the block and used rainbow variegated thread in the bobbin for everything.
I started quilting with the two blocks in the center and then worked towards the outside. Use a straight stitch and backtack at the start and stop. For each block, I started with the small square in the center and worked to the outside, stitching around each edge of the square and pivoting at each corner.
Some tips for machine quilting.
- Roll up the part of the quilt you are not working on. This rolled edge will give you an easy way to hang on to the quilt and will keep the extra fabric out of the way.
- I use both hands to guide the fabric, holding the quilt rolls on both sides of the needle and pulling it slightly tight from side to side. I think this helps keep it from forming little puckers under the needle.
- Be patient. The layers of fabric will want to shift a bit, especially when you get to the corners where the start and stop of your stitching meets. Stitching slowly and taking time to smooth everything out will help.
Hand quilting. You can choose to hand-stitch your quilting lines. There is a great tutorial here with tips to get you started with hand quilting.
Tying. Tying is probably the quickest way to finish your quilt. Use a long piece of embroidery thread doubled over. From the front side, make a small stitch (1/8 inch) through all of the layers of the quilt, leaving a 2 inch tail. Stitch again very close to your first stitch and pull the thread through again to the front. Trim so you have another 2 inch tail. Tie the two ends together using a square knot. You want to make ties about every 4 inches all over the surface of your quilt.
Baste the outside edge.
When you are done quilting, switch the stitch length on your machine to be slightly longer and stitch through all layers about 1/4 inch from the outside raw edge of your quilt. Trim away the excess batting and backing to match the quilt top. You can remove the safety pins.
Join and press the binding.
Join the binding strips together end to end, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance to make one long strip. Press the seam allowances open. Now fold the binding strip in half, matching the long edges of the binding strip together and press.
Stitch the binding with a mitered corner.
Set the quilt on a table face up. Starting in the middle of one side, match the raw edge of the binding strip to the raw edge of the quilt. The folded edge will be towards the center. Pin the strip in place until you are 1/2 inch from the corner. Place a pin at 1/2 in from the corner to mark where you should stop stitching. Starting about 1/2 inch from the end of the strip, stitch 1/2 inch from the raw edge until you reach your stop mark. Don’t forget to backtack at the beginning and end.
To make the mitered corner, fold the unsewn tail of quilt binding straight up, so that its raw edge is parallel with the next side of the quilt we are going to stitch. Right at the corner where you stopped sewing, there will now be a 45 degree fold. Fold the binding down, so the next fold matches the edge of the quilt top behind it and its raw edge is aligned with the next side of the quilt. Pin the corner folds and edge of the quilt and then stitch this new side, stopping again 1/2 inch from the corner. Repeat for all sides of the quilt. When you reach the beginning of the binding, overlap the ends, trim away the extra binding fabric and join the lines of stitching.
To finish the binding, fold it over and turn it towards the back of the quilt. Use a needle and thread with small slip stitches to secure the folded edge of the binding to the back of the quilt, covering the raw edge and the line of stitching. If you don’t know how to do a slip stitch, there is a nice tutorial here.
When you get to the corners, the miters should just fold into place in the front and you just need to make a little tuck to make a matching miter on the back and stitch it down as you go.
Please show us your finished quilts by sharing a photo using hashtag#SpoonChallenge on your favorite social media outlet! We would love to see them.
At least one Sunday a month, we like to take some time out to share a unique sewing experience that stands out a bit from the rest in a series we call "Sunday Sew." This month, Spoonflower staffer Allie stops by to talk about her experience sewing up a sophisticated Sprout Patterns Laurel Blouse, which she wore on her trip to NYC for Martha Stewart's American Made 2015 Awards!
Allie: I had the opportunity to stitch up my first project by Sprout Patterns a few weeks ago in preparation to attend Martha Stewart's American Made awards. While I've done quite a bit of sewing, when it comes to apparel I tend to stick to the most basic silhouettes. For the event, I wanted to look polished and professional, while still remaining comfortable.
I chose the Laurel Blouse by Colette Patterns printed on Silky Faille and it did not disappoint. I opted for a simple design created by Andrea Lauren. Her black and white Animal Constellations printed beautifully and was exactly what I wanted–a quirky yet sophisticated design unique to Spoonflower's crafty community.
If you haven't tried Sprout, or sewing apparel, you certainly should! It was super easy to create a custom top that I was able to tailor slightly for a better fit. By ordering a few sizes larger than I normally wear, I had the flexibility to adjust the side seams to achieve the fit I was looking for. Being creative with your order and sizing allows you to "hack" your Sprout Pattern and be able to adjust sizing and tailor your garment to fit perfectly. The instructions were clear and easy to understand and allowed me to make a unique top in no time. I also had the original PDF with all sizes so I can make another one in months to come! Have you tried Sprout? What is your favorite Patternmaker featured on the site? Please share in the comments below!