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Designing Fabric with The Spoonflower Handbook

Spoonflower brought out a lovely book called The Spoonflower Handbook a while back. Do you know Spoonflower? They are a digital fabric printing company based in North Carolina, USA. They print customers’ own designs on fabrics by demand – so you can order just a little or a lot. Along with a range of fabrics, they offer wallpaper and other products. Digital printing has made it relatively affordable to print small lengths of fabric. This is because the traditional print equipment set-up (screens, rollers etc) is not required. Digital printing is controlled by a computer and the fabric is run through a large ink-jet printer.

Anyone can upload designs to Spoonflower and many designers make their designs available for sale. There is an enormous selection of beautiful designs to choose from. Even if you are not feeling inspired to create your own design, you’ll have not trouble finding a design you love for your project. Once I was looking for fabric in a very specific colour scheme. I was making beanbags for the kids’ playroom. A designer on Spoonflower had a gorgeous red and purple fig design which I bought.

I also have designs in the Spoonflower marketplace now. Pop over and have a browse!

The Spoonflower Handbook

Ok, back to “The Spoonflower Handbook”. It is a lovely book so I thought I’d give you a look inside and maybe inspire you to create some fabric of your own!

The book is divided into two sections. Part 1 gives you very clear instructions about how to create your own digital designs and Part 2 provides lots of inspiration, ideas and instructions for creating your own projects.

The instructions are fabulously clear and easy to follow with lots of illustrations to guide you. They are written “so that anyone can be successful, including the complete beginner.” You can get started with fabric design with just a computer, free graphics and image editing software, a scanner and digital camera. And hopefully by now you already have the basic sewing kit to complete the projects in the book.

Part 1

In Part 1 the authors (Stephen Fraser with Judi Ketteler & Becka Rahn) explain exactly how Spoonflower’s products are sold. They give a very simple but clear digital vocabulary as a foundation for the instructions to follow. They then explain how colour is reproduced by the printers. Digital printing allows for the whole rainbow in one design with ease. Screenprinting different colours requires a new screen for each colour. Plus each colour must dry before the next one is applied. Digital printing has made it quick and easy to print the spectrum!

Finally Part 1 gives an introduction to ‘repeats’. That is, you will learn how to duplicate your image to cover your fabric (or wallpaper or gift wrap!)

Part 2

Family Photo Cushions from The Spoonflower Handbook
Handwritten Recipe Tea Towel from The Spoonflower Handbook

No Art Skills Required

Part 2 builds on these basics by giving you step-by-step instructions for creating a variety of projects with different techniques. This is the fun part. You don’t need to be able to draw, paint or design to create something fabulous with digitally printed fabric. One project takes an old handwritten recipe and prints it up on a fat quarter of linen-cotton canvas to make a tea towel. Another project shows you how to take your family photos and turn them into cushions.

Large Scale

If you want to take your (or your kids’) art and create unique items, there are instructions of how to create repeat fabric or large ‘placement’ prints. Check out the delightful baby quilt below.

Use Text

But if you just want to create with text, there is inspiration for you too in the “Food for Thought Table Runner”, “Typographic Wrapping Paper” and “Monogrammed Stickers”.

Vector Art

And if you really want to get your (digital) hands dirty, there is a chapter on using images that you create on the computer. These ‘vector’ images are extremely versatile because they do not loose quality when you scale them. They can be simple or very complex but arranged in repeat allow you to have so much fun designing stunning fabrics. Check out the Leaves Table Wrap project below – made with wallpaper, not fabric, but a simple yet gorgeous design.

Table Wrap from The Spoonflower Handbook
Baby Quilt from The Spoonflower Handbook

Cut & Sew

The final chapter in the book demonstrates designing for ‘cut & sew’ projects, that is where the design covers the entire project such as this cute Gnome toy.

There is so much fun and inspiration to be found in this book. With it you will be able to create really unique gifts and personalised items for around your home. So if you are feeling inspired to have a go at designing your own fabric, I recommend it. Please do share if you do create any of the projects in the book or any project inspired by these ideas. Use #RebeccaAngela and #SpoonflowerHandbook.

Gnome Toy from The Spoonflower Handbook