fabric design and spoonflower

15 Jul

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time over the past year or so thinking about sewing. Between work, getting stuff done around the house and my strenuous tv watching and video game playing schedule, I don’t sit down to sew as much as I’d like.

Despite this admittedly self-imposed situation, I still spend a great deal of time daydreaming about projects. I’ve got several patterns tucked away waiting for me to get some motivation. This leads to a lot of thought about what kind of fabrics, prints and colors I want to use. This is one half of why Spoonflower is so dangerous for someone like me.

Spoonflower does digital textile printing, allowing you to upload designs you’ve created and have them printed on fabric. They have weekly contests where you can win 5 free yards of fabric, and even if you don’t care to participate they’re a great place to see what other people do with the theme of the week. (As shameless self-promotion, I even won once.)

The other half about what makes Spoonflower dangerous for me is that I’ve always loved to draw, which I really haven’t done since college. The lack of down time sitting around between classes that I’d grown so used to since junior high sort of led to an abrupt halt. Past childhood, I didn’t ever sit down to draw at home. It was always something I did to kill time, which I liked because doing it casually allowed me to get away with producing a bunch of weird random stuff that really didn’t make any sense in context with anything around me.

Now I have Spoonflower as an excuse, with my sewing as a corroboratory hobby. Of course I should sit down and draw a bunch of little robots out of circuit elements. Or skulls and crossbones made from keys and locks. Or some sewing accoutrement tattoo-style. How about swirls? Maybe with skulls and roses? Or flowers? Argyle from burning matches? Little cut and sew dolls? I very clearly have too much time on my hands. And absolutely no sense of proper fabric design.

I’ve had swatches made of a bunch of fabrics and with the exception of two of them they’ve all turned out well. (With digital textile printing you have to be careful with colors that are close to one another and fine lines.)

As a company Spoonflower deserves a lot of praise. They’re currently experiencing a pretty big lag between orders and fabric arrival times because they’re getting a ton of orders, but their customer service is awesome. I once had a problem that was completely my fault and they immediately canceled my order and let me reorder to fix my blunder. Every time I’ve ever had to ask them something or deal with them in any way they’ve been incredibly gracious and helpful. They’re also based in the States and do all of their printing in the country, which isn’t that common for digital textile printers.

Fabrics range in price from $18 – $32 a yard. It’s a bit pricey, but designers get a discount and it’s hard to talk one’s ego out of thinking that your own custom design is completely necessary for a project.

You can allow others to purchase your fabric for a cut of the sales price as well. While you’re probably not going to get rich on your portion of the price, it’s encouraging to see that you’re not the only person who might use your design. I’ve actually sold a few goldfish and robots, which is funny since they’re a quite disparate as designs go.

I’ve even made stuff with some of my fabric:

The first 3 were gifts and it was a lot of fun deciding on fabrics to fit the personalities of the recipients.

Accoutrement

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