Have you ever had a very specific vision for something that you wanted to sew but couldn’t find the fabric? Or maybe you like to pick up a paintbrush from time to time or carve your own printing blocks or doodle on your ipad but aren’t sure where to take it next? If any of these apply to you I would strongly encourage you to give fabric design a try. Seeing your work take on new life as you create repeats and experiment with different colors is really rewarding and best of all, you get to make something cool with your fabric after!
I have wanted to create my own fabrics for the longest time but the fear of ‘The Gap’ (the gap between the idea in my head and what my current skill set allows me to produce) always held me back. This year though I have decided to quit over-thinking and just start making things again, prioritizing progress over perfection.
A couple of weeks ago I got my first set of samples in the mail from Spoonflower (a print on demand fabric company that allows you to upload and sell your own designs) and now my first finished design ‘Tammy Girl’ is out in the world!
Although I am no expert, I want to share some of the process behind this fabric design in case that helps give you some ideas to get started.
I knew I wanted this fabric to have a retro feel with florals inspired by the 1960’s, 70’s – and the 1990’s homages to those retro florals that we saw in brands like Bang on the Door in the UK and Delia’s in the US. I keep an ongoing scrapbook of patterns that catch my eye so I turned to my 1960’s and 1970’s fabric samples and began sketching out some flower shapes.
I started adding color to the flower shapes that I liked the best which helped me get a feel for which shapes belonged together and which didn’t. When I had narrowed it down to around 5 different styles of flower I re-drew those shapes in Copic marker and photographed them.
Using my ipad I traced over the flower shapes, saving each one as a separate PNG file with a transparent background. I then used a combination of procreate and photoshop to build the pattern repeat, layering the flower shapes over one another. I chose four different color palettes to begin with before uploading my final files to my Spoonflower fabric shop. I then ordered samples to check that the colors turned out the way I want them to and that there were no flaws in the repeat. Seeing my design come to life on fabric was awesome – now I just need to decide what to make with it!
Surface pattern design and printmaking is something I am looking forward to exploring more – I will share my progress and my finished work here from time to time but for more regular content you can find me daily on TikTok and Instagram. If you have any questions about anything I have spoken about here leave me a comment and I will do my best to help. Until next time!