Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spoonflower: Make and Print your own Fabric!

Fabric and clothing design are like laces and shoes. Burgers and buns. Fountains and water. Together they help fulfill and compliment each other. Very often, but not always, my new designs start with fabrics that I find inspirational. When the design idea  comes first, I have to search around for a fabric to fit with my still imaginary style, and you can guess this is sometimes a frustrating effort. How often have you looked for even a plain fabric in the right color to use as a binding, trim or contrast and come up empty handed? There is a solution you may not have thought of: Print your own!

Last year I started designing and printing my own fabrics. Using a product called Bubblejet 2000 that prepares cotton or silk fabrics, I can permanently print any image onto fabric with an ordinary inkjet printer. Quilters have been using this product (or fabric prepared with this product) for years to make what they call "memory" quilts. But instead of printing a digital photograph onto fabric, I created my own high resolution repeatable print images from scratch on the computer. The uses, applications, and colors are limitless; the only limitation is the size of your printer. If you can print letter size only, check to see if you can set your  printer to "banner". In banner print, you are still limited by width, but not by length. If your project requires a wider width without seams, you can upload your image to and they will print your fabric for you. You can see the fabrics I uploaded to Spoonflower here:   

Spoonflower is a great place to buy fabrics designed by others too. I LOVE this fabric by Bob Staake.

Designing your own digital print is only a little bit complicated, depending on your design idea. It also helps to be familiar with the program you'll be using to design with.  If you are a graphic designer, then you're well on your way to becoming a famous fabric designer! If you are new at this, start with an idea that will be easy to repeat and execute. For the next month, I've listed my vintage fabrics tutorial CD, available on Etsy, for half price. Using a step by step format, I go through the process of designing a print for fabric printing using photoshop. If you know your way around it, just about any drawing/image editing program will also work. If you know of a good tutorial on the web- let us all know about it with a comment and I will add the link to the bottom of this post.

Using the Starter Skirt Pattern #1000, view A, here is me wearing the skirt I made from the fabrics that I printed. What do you think?

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