Tuesday, 18 March 2014

My first fabric design: Nellington


You might remember that a few months ago, I introduced my new sponsor, Woven Monkey, an English company who will print your own designs onto fabric, much like their American counterpart, Spoonflower. After a lot of revisions, I think that I finally feel happy with what will be my first fabric design: Nellington. I finished these designs at around midnight on Friday, with my feet being gently toasted by Nell's warm body beneath the table, so when I came to save the final files, I found myself naming them as Nellington Pink and Nellington Turquoise (you see the way that dog has snuffled her way into my dog-loathing heart? I actually adore her).


I'm currently waiting for some swatches to come back from Woven Monkey so that I can see how it looks on cotton and whether I'm happy with the colours. I'm still undecided as to what scale I prefer (the photo at the top of this post shows the design at a large and small scale - I'm keeping these papers taped up on my wall, although so far this hasn't helped me come to a decision. Any opinions?). Anyway, I thought I'd share with you how my design progressed, because when I looked back through the different incarnations it had been through, I found it really interesting to see how it had developed.


This isn't the clearest of photos (I've discovered it's incredibly difficult to photograph a screen without strange lines appearing over it, so the rest of the images are screen shots or directly saved images), but here's the central motif I came up with. At the time, I was just thinking of creating one motif that would have a uniform repeat, as you can see below.


I posted the above design to Instagram asking for advice. I knew that I wasn't quite happy with it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. Having somewhere where you can get such a quick response from such a wide range of people is amazing; the responses were so helpful. A lot of people suggested adding in an extra colour to bring the blue to life a bit more, while others mentioned that they felt there was too large an expanse of white. Both so helpful - particularly the latter, which I hadn't seen myself, but the moment I read those comments, I knew that was exactly what didn't feel quite right about it.

I spent a while playing around with colours and backgrounds.


My husband then added in that he wasn't so keen on the 'satsuma segments' that dance around the outside of the flowers and that he'd find a petal shape more satisfying to look at. Those have been changed in the bottom left design in the above collage.

At this point I decided to see how it would look if I started to fill in the background with some bubbles of colour. Once I'd started adding in the bubbles, I chose to toss in a few individual flowers and then created a few sprigs to join them and suddenly it felt as though it was turning into something that was entirely different from what I'd initially envisaged, but also something I felt much happier with. I also found it easier to settle on a colour scheme that I liked at that point too. I've created the design in two colourways: what my son sweetly calls 'skin colour' and turquoise.



It took me an inordinately long time to work out how to create a pattern that can repeat seamlessly for a more involved design like this (for a simpler design Woven Monkey's own upload software can actually create the repeat for you in seconds), both from a practical point of view and then trying to learn how to get my software to do what I wanted it to do. Essentially, I had to create a design that wraps around - think of the world mapped out on a globe and you get the picture - but that can then be cut down into a square, to be printed and reprinted across a width of fabric. You can see how this works in the picture below: focus on the main mid-sized flower half-way down the outer right hand side of the square and you'll notice that about a 1/3 of this flower overhangs the parameters of my turquoise background square. You'll see that when it reappears on the left hand side of square, it's this overhanging 1/3 that now appears on the fabric, while the already used 2/3 now hangs over the left-hand edge.


You can see how if you apply this logic to each side of the square, it can then be tiled in any direction to create a seamless repeat.


Here is Nell, with Nellington: the fact that she can barely raise herself from her doggy afternoon coma to feign interest in them would suggest that she's flattered, but that ultimately fabric designs aren't really her thing.


But, that's okay, because I still think she looks lovely with them. It makes my head feel worryingly close to explosion to think that if I wanted to I could actually make an entire dog bed for Nell in this fabric that I've designed using her name. Being able to have a hand in everything from the pattern design to the piecing and construction when making something is such an oddly empowering idea…(but don't worry, Woven Monkey is not akin to Frankenstein setting loose monsters: I promise not to even attempt to have Nellington etched onto grass using weedkiller and a selection of organic dyes…)

Fabric aside, thank you so much for all your wonderful entries to yesterday's giveaway post. You are making me feel so much better by sharing all your own loopyiness! There's still time to enter.

Florence x

19 comments:

  1. This is so pretty! What a fun process!

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  2. Wow, you put so much work into this! I love it.

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  3. wow - this is lovely! i think something using the same design in both scales would look gorgeous. really subtle.

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  4. I love both colorways. I really like the overall design!

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  5. Wow, truly inspiring, I could easily lose a few days getting involved in something like this!

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  6. Beautiful designs, and Nell is adorable.

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  7. They're beautiful designs - I love both colourways. I think I slightly prefer the smaller scale print, but both look lovely.

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  8. Beautiful designs, they work equally well in both scales. You could add a stripe, a couple of textured plains and the background design and... voila...a complete fabric line!! Looking forward to seeing what it looks like on fabric.

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  9. Great colour ways... I love the greens and pinks you've used. I hope a bandana for Nell will be one of the first things you make with it?

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  10. it's always a pleasure to read your blog- i am a quiet reader but you deserve a loud brava! you are a risk-taker
    and a look-forward-to in the week…the fabric design is happy and light- graze
    chiara from rome

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  11. So pretty! I love both of them and the colours are so complimentary, I wouldn't know which design to choose :)

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  12. fantastic design Florence. You're so creative and I love that turquoise. Are you planning to put the fabric on sale?

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  13. OOOh Florence, I absolutely love these. I adore the colours. Would love these in my shop xx

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  14. Hi Florence. I love these lovely fabrics but most of all I love the way you have come to adore that lovely dog. We have an 11 month old old tyme bulldogge and she is gorgeous too. Wouldn't be without her. Don't they wheedle their way into your heart? Lynne.x

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  15. I love the turquoise colourway and think the small pattern would lend itself to loads of projects. As a former dog disliker I have fallen in love with my rescue chug and can't imagine life without him now.

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  16. Nellington is so pretty. The pattern looks beautiful in both large and small scale, though I would maybe use the smaller print more... and a dog bed! Must be made!

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  17. Wow, the finished fabric is absolutely beautiful, you must be so chuffed with it. Can't wait to see your next design!

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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