fabric design,

Print-to-order textiles

At various times in the past it has been suggested to me that much of my design work and many of my patterns would work well as fabric designs. I agreed but was unaware of how to go about achieving this. People connected with Riverviews Artspace, those attending First Fridays, and friends alike have urged me to explore this angle.

Then Jenny Light moved into the suite next to my studio. One evening as we were talking, she mentioned and showed me samples of fabrics printed by Spoonflower.com. She explained that you merely upload your design to them and they will print this design on fabric of your choice. This was intriguing to me, but I was too busy at the time.

After completing the commissioned painting for Central Virginia Federal Credit Union, I decided to make time to explore the Spoonflower.com operation. I started by uploading images of some of my existing paintings. One of the choices of ways to receive samples from Spoonflower is a “swatch” -- an 8”x8” printed sample on the fabric of your choice from their selection. I wanted to see how accurately the colors I used would reproduce on fabric, so I ordered several of these. I was floored by how good they looked!

One problem showed itself immediately though. My paintings are one of a kind and fabrics depend upon repeating images. I would have to work on that. The next problem was that some of my colors did not reproduce the way they appeared on the computer screen. Even though they were attractive, this would make it impossible for anyone to order fabric with any assurance of color accuracy.

I solved the first problem by redoing artwork specifically for fabric designs. Even those patterns that appear to be reproductions of my artwork were redrawn on the computer. I made adjustments to them so that they would repeat properly. As for the problem with color accuracy, Spoonflower had a solution: they have a color chart showing their full color “gamut,” the colors that reproduce well with their system. By choosing my colors from their color chart, the colors on the computer screen more accurately represent the colors that are printed on the fabrics.

After several rounds of uploading images and ordering swatches, I settled on the patterns that are available in the “shop” that has been set up for me at
http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/michael_mewborn_art. Each of these patterns is available on any of the fabrics they offer. The top of the screen on their website offers “Fabrics and pricing.” This section defines all of their fabrics and the uses for which they are suited. It also shows recommended cleaning methods.

Remember that your order is printed just for you. If you want 4 yards of pattern named
xyz on cotton silk, they will print that for you. I recommend that you order a swatch of your selected pattern on your selected material. That way you can be sure that the colors are what you expect. Swatches run about $5 each. I will be uploading new designs periodically.

Here are the fabrics they offer: Kona® quilting weight cotton, cotton poplin, cotton voile, linen-cotton canvas, organic cotton interlock knit, organic cotton sateen, upholstery-weight cotton twill, silk crepe de chine. I earn a small amount of money from each order (except for swatches), and that is my total compensation.

I look forward to hearing from anyone concerning this venture. Any thoughts, suggestions or comments are welcome.