Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging for so long there. Jetlag is no fun. But you want to know about Spoonflower. Spoonflower is an awesome new company that prints fabric on demand. You design your fabric pattern, send it over and they’ll print it on to fabric and post it right out. As a crazy fabric obsessive, you can imagine how exciting this was for me and I hope you’re impressed that I didn’t go completely overboard.
For my first attempt, I wanted to keep things simple so I could get an idea of how time-consuming the design aspect was and how the whole process worked, as well as how the fabric actually looked and felt, and how similar the finished fabric matched my design and expectations. As they’re based in the US, I also had to limit myself to just one fat quarter as the postage costs are currently very high. I believe they plan to lower them once they’re out of beta. Obviously the more you order the cheaper it gets but this was just testing the water.
As you can see, I went with my button drawings as they really are perfect for a fabric pattern and simple enough for a first attempt. I spent almost a whole morning trying to make the repeat pattern work in Illustrator and wanting to stab myself in the eyes until I discovered Illustrator isn’t able to crop the kind of paths I make. After that, I moved to Photoshop and it all came together quite quickly. The Spoonflower site has all the info on sizes and file formats so that part was very easy. I also used this tutorial to remind me about how to build a good repeat pattern. Once it was done, and tested a million times to make sure every pixel lined up, I sent it off to Spoonflower and promptly went to Thailand so as to try and forget about it.
The first thing I saw when I got back home was a package from Spoonflower so it actually only took about 2 weeks altogether. It was all prettily packaged in tissue paper but it was midnight and I just got off a plane so I wasn’t able to photograph it. To cut a long story short, I was delighted with how it turned out; the pattern was sharp and detailed and the colour was just right as well. The fabric was a little thinner than I might have wanted but it’s a standard white cotton. Hopefully once things take off, other fabric options might be possible. I really have no complaints at all and I can’t wait for my brain to sort itself out so I can make something with it and see how it sews. I’m definitely going to try out a few more patterns after seeing all the goodness in the Spoonflower Flickr pool.
I’d definitely recommend you give Spoonflower a go but I’d also recommend you do your research first and take the time to work on your perfect pattern, especially if you’re not in the US. Spoonflower only make the printing aspect easy; the hard part is still coming up with a good design. For me, it’s not just making fabric with anything I like on it that I find exciting, but that I can tweak sizes, placement and orientation to make fabric that works perfectly for a particular project. I see a lot of potential in Spoonflower’s services and it’s going to be hard to rein myself in and do the planning first but I’m looking forward to trying out lots of new ideas.