Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Designing your own fabrics


There haven't been many posts lately, as most of my sewing time has been spent working on projects for a forthcoming issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine and so I can't share any of the in-progress photos here yet, but I'm having a lot of fun - I can tell you that it involves some English paper piecing, some appliqué, and a lot of hand-quilting (the latter isn't actually integral to the design of the quilt, but why do something in a day when you can take three weeks over it? There are actually many reasons not to do that, and I often question my logic once I've started on something, but even though it's taking forever, I'm enjoying every moment of it). Anyway, with a lack of any photos of current sewing projects that I can share, I offer instead my daughter's bookshelf, which I think may almost be better! At the weekend when we were tidying her room she asked if we could order her books by colour - I'm not sure if she could have uttered a more perfect question at that moment. She is a creature motivated by such similar things to me - I actually did this to our bookshelves before we had children nearly thirteen years ago, but it was a short-lived arrangement (precisely one hour) as when my boyfriend, now husband, came in, he was aghast and insisted that I randomise them immediately. Have you ever tried deliberately randomising something? The effect that we ended up with was more of a staggered rainbow: pink, green, blue, white, black, pink, green, blue, white black. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't quite 'unrainbow' them and when friends visited in the following months they would look at the bookshelves askance and ask if we'd deliberately colour-ordered them and I'd sense my husband dying inside a little - it was a problem that was only entirely solved by moving house.


I also wanted to introduce my lovely new sponsor, Woven Monkey. Woven Monkey are an English fabric printing company, and for those familiar with America-based Spoonflower, it's a similar concept. Woven Monkey will print your own designs onto fabric for you and you can order as little as a fat quarter! It's not only fantastic for its potential for general sewing and quilting-making, but also for dressmaking as, aside from regular cotton, their other substrates include cotton sateen and cotton drill.

Woven Monkey aim to have your fabric delivered to your door within 7 or 8 days of your order being placed, which seems fairly impressive even to me, who suffers with a fundamental problem with delayed gratification.

You can submit designs from paintings, drawing or computer generated artwork. Woven Monkey have very kindly offered to print some fabric for me and I'll share the results with you once I've got myself together and created a design. I'm actually really excited by that element of it; I think I'd mentioned when I designed my new blog header at the start of January, that one of my aspirations for this year (absolutely not a new year's resolution) was to become more proficient using design packages - I've dabbled with Fireworks and Illustrator a little over the past few years, but I've been really yearning for total immersion. I actually decided to challenge myself by designing all the steps for the quilt pattern I've been working on for Love Patchwork & Quilting with Illustrator and ended up finding it almost as much fun as the sewing part, so I'm looking forward to trying to design something that I'd want on a piece of fabric using Illustrator, although I'm relieved that Woven Monkey have software that creates the repeat for you (even if it means challenging a lifelong banana phobia).


I think it's so exciting that a service which I've always envied America for having within a week's post away, is now available here in England (they also deliver within the E.U). If you use Woven Monkey, please do leave me a comment or a link to your blog - I'd love to see what fabrics you're having printed. In the meantime, if you'd like to read more about how Woven Monkey was born, you can find out here and if you'd like to put in a request for which other fabric bases you'd like to see them offering printing on next, you can add your suggestions here (personally, I'd like a silk crepe de Chine, as this is my favourite fabric for dressmaking and I find it's for dressmaking fabrics that I most struggle to find prints that I want to wear). Oh and one final thing, for those who like to know the details, Woven Monkey adapted their machines to use water-based pigment inks, so that your fabrics don't arrive laden with nasty chemicals.

Florence x

UPDATE: Following Sophie's question in the comments to this post, I clarified with Woven Monkey that you really don't need any fancy pants software at all to design your own fabric - you can simply submit a scan of your own original artwork! Here's what Ed said when I asked him about how to go about doing this:

Yes, we can print directly from someone's scanned image. With most scanners you can increase the image resolution (in essence the quality), in order to meet our minimum requirements for DPI.
If you're uploading an image directly from a scan, it may be advisable to put it through a free photo editor, like picmonkey.com before using our service. This gives you the option to make alterations like brightening the image.

Just to clarify, in case you missed any of the points in the comments - you'd need to save your scan as a jpeg (which is fairly standard and probably what you'd save it as anyway). The DPI that Ed refers to means 'dots per inch' - this is basically how many dots will print out per inch of fabric - the more dots there are per inch, the more detail and definition is given to your image. Ideally, you'd want your image to be between 150 - 300dpi. You can order a test swatch of your fabric for £2.50 to check the colours and print quality of your image, so that may be worth doing before committing to ordering larger cuts of your fabric. 

20 comments:

  1. Oh Florence - I really want to give this a go, but can I draw/paint my design by hand, scan in and send to them without computer design programme manipulation? That would be beyond me!

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    1. I believe that as long as you can scan it in and save it as a jpeg then it would be fine. I think one of the things that's important for good printing is that it's saved at 150dpi (dots per inch) or above - I'm not sure if you can adjust the dpi in standard photo editing software, but it's something which takes seconds to do, so Ed at Woven Monkey may be able to advise you on that. I guess that as long as you've cropped in and centred your image, then it would be fine to do it in the way you're suggesting, but I'll ask Ed and post his reply here. x

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    2. Hi Sophie, Ed from Woven Monkey has just sent me a response to your question - all good!

      "Yes we can print directly from someones scanned image. With most scanners you can increase the image resolution (in essence the quality), in order to meet our minimum requirements for DPI.

      If you're uploading an image directly from a scan, it may be advisable to put it through a free photo editor, like picmonkey.com before using our service. This gives you the option to make alterations like brightening the image."

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    3. Thank you so much Florence for your help! This is great news and I cant wait to get started.
      I really appreciate you speaking to Ed at Woven Monkey for me too!
      Thank you so much!
      Sx

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  2. Thank you so much for this post. I've been toying with the idea of paying homage to some classic Horrocks' fabrics but didn't want the added cost of international shipping and customs charges. Now I don't have to. Brilliant!

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    1. How lovely - I'd love to see what you come up with!

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  3. Double hurrah with cream, nuts and a flake! I am so glad to hear about Woven Monkey - I have lusted after Spoonflower for ages but can never justify the postage.I will go and investigate immediately.

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    1. I may be forced to eat your comment with that kind of celebration. I'm so delighted that others are as excited by this as I am. x

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  4. Thank you for sharing the news about woven monkey, I am so excited!!! I will definitely be giving them a try as I love to draw and end up making super complicated applique designs. Being able to have it all printed sounds like a dream come true.

    Would love to see what people have got printed.

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  5. Ooh interesting - I hope they'll add some organic cottons to their fabric choices soon. What's always enticed me with Spoonflower is not so much being able to design my own, as being able to get any of the zillions of designs already on the site printed onto organic base cloths (current object of unrequited love: Phoebe Wahl's Tobie print). Looking forward to seeing your designs, and my mum got that special offer subscription to the magazine so we'll be looking out for your projects there too. I had the same experience with our bookshelf (did it, Boyfriend objected very strongly) although I kind of hated it too once it was done, and we were able to undo it easily because we have a special book categorisation system with undefinable rules and logic that produces results extremely close to perfect randomisation. x

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  6. Wow, I've been dreaming of having my own print fabrics printed! And I just love the colour organised book shelf, and I was pleased to see that your daughter has a copy of Inkheart, one of my favourite books!

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  7. I have used Spoonflower and although great, did take forever to arrive. Brilliant news we have a home grown version!

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  8. I love Spoonflower, have used them right from their initial launch, but having a UK based company is even better. x

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  9. My fabric from woven monkey arrived last week. The print quality is great http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebygomm/12139585625/

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  10. Excellent news thank you. I have long been thinking about getting my own fabric done :)

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing this. Very excited! Like others spoon flower was just a bit too much £, particularly if my designs might turn out crap... At least at first.

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  12. This is exciting news, so pleased that there will be other fabrics besides the quilting cotton and that the inks are water based. Hurrah! Really looking forward to seeing yur print, Florence.

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  13. I have long thought of having fabric printed by Spoonflower, but it's taking me ages to try it. Maybe I'll be inspired by your experience! This could be the year ;)

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  14. I've used Spoonflower once (I used scanned in drawings from my 4 year old) with the result turning out fantastic and exactly what I wanted. The problem was the shipping time to the UK. when I checked the tracking I saw that it took 11 days to get from their factory to just leave the country! That really shocked me. It then took another 12 days to cross the ocean, clear customs, and get to my house. I was quite unhappy with this and and really happy there is a UK alternative now. I can't wait to get some more fabric planned and printed!

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  15. It all sounds great. What a challenge - to see your own project in your own fabric. I will definetely go check:)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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