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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sewing Machine Zen: Evolution of a Fabric Design

sewing machine zen by eSheep Designs
A glimpse of my Sewing Machine Zen fabric...
Given a restricted colour palette, a theme, and a deadline, could you come up with a fabric design? That was exactly the nature of a design competition over at Spoonflower last month.

I'm really a newbie to the world of surface design, so it's not easy for me to arrive at something that fits in well with these competitions. (In fact, prior to this and the one just before it — Aurora Borealis — I hadn't participated in one of these since December of 2015.) Most of them are just thematic, which results in a wide open format that I find hugely challenging. It's why I'm drawn to the restricted colour palette competitions... it leaves me with a lot fewer decisions to make!


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The restricted palette was a salute to Pantone's 2017 colour of the year: Greenery. That, along with basic black and white made up 75% of the restricted palette. In an unusual move, Spoonflower allowed designers to select one other colour. I merely googled the greenery shade and asked for a complementary colour swatch. It was this lavendery purple.

sewing machine zen by eSheep Designs
The beginning of my Sewing Machine Zen fabric design...
The theme of this competition was sewing. How could I not participate?

Actually, I decided to participate because I had an idea waiting to be used. Many months ago, I had doodled a zen-t inspired version of a sewing machine. It was destined to be the foundation for this design.

The first thing I did was to convert it into a straight black and white drawing; i.e., no shades of grey allowed due to the palette limitation thing. Then I took a negative image copy. Then, I coloured in the white one with purple and the black one with green. Finally, I flipped and mirrored, put down some background stripes and this first design came to life in short order...

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 1...

Next, I played around with some Paint Shop Pro distortion effects and arrived at some variations on the background. Such as this one with wavy stripes...

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 2...

... and this one with stylized "spools" of thread...

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 3...

Then I decided that this just wasn't doing it for me, so I went another way.


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These next few have circles underneath in the background. This first one was accomplished via another distortion effect (polar coordinates) and some re-colouring...

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 4...

This one, however, was created manually, so to speak; I added a circle and then an ellipse on top. (What is it? A ring? A big spool? An "O"? I dunno.)

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 5...

I slept on it at this point, knowing that I still wasn't there. It was missing something... or maybe it had too much of something?


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The next morning, I had a couple of breakthroughs. One was to add some — duh! — stitching lines to the background. So I put a couple rows of topstitching around the perimeter and then made some lazy rambling stitches across the entire surface. (I have become intrigued by the idea of free motion quilting, so I thought I'd try it out digitally first! What do you think??)

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen 6...

The other was to minimize the busy-ness, so I took away half of the sewing machines. Then as a final move, I did this...

Sewing Machine Zen fabric design by eSheep Designs
Sewing Machine Zen final version...

This one became my entry into the design challenge. So there you have it. While I could have still gone back in and made changes upon changes, there comes a time when one has to stop tinkering and be done with it.

Oh, and how did I do on this challenge? I got 7 votes. Far from the top of the list — and actually the fewest I've ever received on a challenge (LOL... shows what I know!) — but it's always an honour just to get a vote. Here's the link to check out this and the rest of my Zen fabric collection.

Question: do you ever have a hard time stopping the creative process? Or is it easy for you to say, "that's it, I'm done!"


1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I can easily stop and say, "I'm done", but not at other times. I am fascinated to see the process you go through designing fabric. Love the lavender / green combo. And adding the background stitching totally tied the whole thing together. Great job!!!

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