Friday, October 18, 2013

Spoonflower product test

Recently I fell in love with a shirt I saw on Pinterest.

It reminds me of several beloved shirts I have had over the years that have all fallen apart after years of use. It's simple and probably very comfortable. I also really like the combination of gray and cream in the stripes, which seems very new and modern to me.

It is also, unfortunately, priced at ¥29400, or about $300.

So my first thought was, okay, I can buy similar fabric, and sew my own. I have amassed a good set of online fabric store links over the past few years, and I visited them all in search of a good match for this fabric. To absolutely no avail. And I'm embarrassed to say I stayed stuck in this frustrated failure to find a good fabric - I think knit is probably more appropriate but I would have accepted woven - for more than a month. Then I remembered Spoonflower!

If you don't know about Spoonflower, and you are a sewer, you need to check this service out. There are others (e.g., Fabric On Demand), but they don't work the same way, and they don't provide the same access to other designers in addition to printing your designs. You can have your own fabric, wallpaper, removable decals, and wrapping paper printed, or you can buy fabric with designs by other people, selecting from a huge and amazingly varied catalog of patterns and pictures.

the simplest jpeg ever
I'm not good at drawing. Though I am expert at many crafts and I majored in sculpture and painting in college, I suck at drawing cute designs and patterns. But I've been sewing my whole life, so when Spoonflower came out in beta, I enthusiastically joined up as soon as I could get in. I created a design, but it wasn't especially good, and I'm not going to show it around. I would certainly never claim to be a fabric designer, even a little. But even I thought that creating a jpeg file of two-color stripes was easy. The instructions on Spoonflower are very clear and remarkably non-stringent, especially compared to other custom product makers that require super high definition files of exact sizes and whatnot. I created a 4"x4" square picture with 1/2" stripes, and I wasn't even especially careful about the colors I chose, figuring I'd see how they come out in the samples and adjust if necessary.

the samples from Spoonflower
It did take a somewhat long time for the samples to arrive. I ordered them on Sept 30 and they only just arrived on Oct 17. That's a bit long in this Amazon era of instant delivery. But on the other hand, I'm getting the exact fabric I pictured in my head, and that's worth having to wait a little while. I chose two knit fabrics to test, because I didn't know what they were like "in person," and while I was at it I also bought a giant full color display and a set of fabric samples. This is not the first time I've ordered fabric from Spoonflower, and it certainly won't be the last, so I figured it was a good time to get a set of samples.

I got test prints of the organic cotton interlock knit and the performance polyester knit. In the photo there, the poly is on the right. I prefer how the colors came out on the cotton, as well as its somewhat sturdier drape. The one disadvantage of buying a stripe printed on fabric rather than dyed into it, is that the reverse side is quite obvious. I can live with that. I'm going to order the organic cotton.

They have a whole bunch of cloth selections to choose from, depending on your use. Are you a quilter? You will no doubt enjoy the Kona© cotton quilting weight. If you want to sew a blouse, the cotton voile or the silk crèpe de chine would serve admirably. (I've used the voile, aka lawn, and it's nice, though slightly sheer.) You can re-cover a stuffed chair with the linen-cotton canvas. There are lots of options!

One last note: Spoonflower has (sadly) not paid me for this post. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own and are absolutely sincere. My only wish is that I had thought to invent Spoonflower myself.

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