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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Designing Fabric with Spoonflower

Winter in the City fabric by eSheep Designs
My Winter in the City fabric design...
In the dark dreariness of a cold northern winter in early January, what might be a good activity to pursue indoors?

Designing fabric, that's what!

I had bookmarked the Spoonflower website some time ago, but didn't give it another thought until I mused that a pile of records — yes, you read that right — would make a cool pattern for a fabric. We were at a local dinner theatre for a musical performance of British rock 'n' roll, and in the lobby, they had a display of typical retro "stuff", including a pile of vinyl LPs.

By the time I opened up a Spoonflower account a few days later, my creative mojo had swung elsewhere: firstly, to this view of my home city's skyline.
Winter in the City graphic by eSheep Designs
My Winter in the City graphic...

While the outlines of the buildings are fairly representative, I obviously did my own thing with the window representations. I originally started with black buildings and white windows, but after reading the FAQs on Spoonflower, I figured it might be prudent to aim at a compromise. Apparently the printing technology (which is probably much like our personal inkjet printers) doesn't translate pure black very well.

Which is not to say that I'm going to avoid black. For example, in a salute to my youthful "doodleart" days, I sat down and doodled the beginnings of a floral and vine pattern...

Floral doodle by eSheep Designs
I used to love to doodle and colour...

... which ultimately morphed into what you see below, after I fiddled with it in Paint Shop Pro. (Remember Doodleart? It lives again!)

Sunshine Floral on Black fabric by eSheep Designs
Spoonflower screen shot of my Sunshine Floral on Black fabric design...

You can see from the above that the price for an 8" x 8" test swatch costs $5.00. Individually, that is the case. However, Spoonflower also offers bulk swatches printed on one contiguous sheet of fabric for a lot less. For example, a small set of 5 swatches in combed cotton (essentially a quilting cotton) is $12. A medium set of 6 to 15 designs costs $20. (Apart from number of swatches, the type of fabric you select also affects the price. The highest cost is for silk crepe de chine.)

Check out Craftsy's latest promos...

Over a period of three days, I went "design crazy" and came up with (over) 15 variations of fabric so that I could maximize value with the medium size sampler. (I had to tell myself to stop fiddling around with the designs so that I could get my order in!) You can tell that I didn't end up avoiding black; I decided that I needed to see for myself how it would turn out.

Spoonflower Fabrics by eSheep Designs
My Spoonflower swatch sampler...

I took the opportunity to create a couple of "eSheep Designs" fabric labels for myself with this sampler set. The 8" x 8" swatches should yield 15 of the rectangular version and 24 of the diamond logo. That should be more than enough for my needs. A combed cotton fat quarter costs $9.45 (after designer discount), so with shipping at a buck or two extra, Spoonflower actually provides a reasonably priced option for indie designers to create a small run of custom fabric labels.

Fabrics of your own creation can be sold in your own Spoonflower Shop, as long as the specific design has been proofed — i.e., ordered by you — in some manner. (Ordering a sampler as described counts as "proofing".) The commission is 10%. And while it would be neat if someone eventually buys my fabric, my primary goal here is to see something that I've designed come to life in a fabric... which I can then use to make something really unique.

I think it's totally awesome that this is even possible!

Anyhoo, look for a continuation of this post in a few weeks, when I'll show you what I received.


  1. I haven't mesed sound with Spoonflower yet but I think the idea of it is fabulous. Someone told me they are locate here in the Carolinas? I've seen some great designs come out of Spoonflower. I like your winter in the City with the buildings and the windows.

    1. Thank you! And yes, Spoonflower is in Durham, North Carolina. I too have seen a lot of interesting fabric designs there... so impressed with what some people are able to come up with.


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