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Spoonflower: Fabric Designs

by Scott Goetz

For centuries only top designers and fashion houses had the resources to create custom fabric design. But the advent of quality output digital textile large-format inkjet printers has unwound the tightly woven control away from the fashion industry and handed it to the do-it-yourselfer. And thanks to the web-based company Spoonflower, with its wide palette of colors and easy-to-use web design interface, any want-to-be fashionista can express their individuality through textiles and post them on their site for others to purchase. In just three short years, Spoonflower has amassed the world’s largest collection of independent fabric designs contributed by almost 70,000 users.

Unlike conventional textile manufacturing, digital printing entails very little waste of fabric, ink, water or electricity. Spoonflower uses no additional chemicals in their eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks while offering natural fiber options like 100 percent organic cotton certified by Global Organic Textile Standards, linen-cotton canvas, upholstery-weight cotton twill and 100 percent silk—fabrics that can be used to make anything from couch cushions to lingerie, all for an average of $27 per yard.

Creating, organizing, and filtering designs in collections is all done from your computer with Photoshop or Illustrator, but the site also has its own easy to master program. Still, there are some things to keep in mind: Good contrasts on dine details print well; dark colors that are similar to each other may blend together without enough contrast; there are no white inks so there’s no way to start with dark fabric and create a lighter colored design on top of it, and black backgrounds have to be sprayed onto white cloth which is not as effective as dying.

Not an artist? We suggest looking into your own photos and the mega-database, copyright-free online catalogue of Vintage Printables for inspiration or just comb through Spoonflower’s site and pick a fabric someone else has designed (they receive 10 percent of the sale). If you’re not sure how something is going to look, order a test swatch, they are inexpensive and delivered quickly. spoonflower.com

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