designing fabric & papers for spoonflower

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Artistic Endeavors, design, Running a Business22 Comments

A few weeks ago, I shared that my second quilting fabric collection with FreeSpirit Fabrics wasn’t going to be produced.  (You can find that post HERE.)  Thanks for all of your encouragement on that, by the way!  The brief feeling of failure that comes with any news like that quickly shifted into excitement.  This means I can take my designs and what I’ve learned and translate them into the world of home decor fabrics and papers.

I am in the very beginning stages of reworking my existing designs and putting some plans together for new collections and colorways.  Once the designs are ready, they will be for sale on Spoonflower.

One of the challenges with designing fabrics (or anything, really), is finding a way to communicate the ideas and concepts that live in your head with other people.  That sounds like a no brainer, but it’s more challenging than you might expect.  A simple sketch isn’t enough.  You have to use a common design language.  When I was working with FreeSpirit, they helped me with this step.

Now that I’m on my own, I need to make sure I’m speaking Spoonflower’s language.  To do this, I ordered their design tools.  This included a box of fabric and paper swatches as well as a huge color chart printed on cotton.

The colors on the chart each have a code that can be used in Photoshop and ProCreate, the two design software programs I use.  I create the design in ProCreate and then Heidi puts it in printable repeats for me in Photoshop.

It is so nice to be able to see the colors on a piece of fabric in person since what I see on the screen isn’t necessarily an accurate representation.  I feel like my colors will be closer to the vision in my head.

I can also create a palette from these color charts, so that my designs have coordinating and consistent colorways.  If I want to work with paints and a brush to create designs, I can mix custom paint colors to match these little squares as well.

Since the color chart is enormous and a little difficult to maneuver, I cut it into more manageable pieces with pinking shears.

I’ve also purchased a few books on patterns and design.  There is so much great historic inspiration for rhythm, scale, color combinations, themes, and design elements.

This book is massive and a feast for the eyes…

I’ve ordered a couple of other textile and pattern books, so I’ll let you know how they compare and which one is my favorite (in case you’re interested!)

Anyway, I’m excited to get some of these reworked designs out into the world and I’m to dust off some of the “rejects” that I loved as well.

designing fabric & papers for spoonflower

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22 Comments on “designing fabric & papers for spoonflower”

  1. This is so interesting. I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to even get started designing fabric and paper but really enjoy watching your journey. I really love the blue design on your tablet…hope that turns into some paper or fabric.

  2. I agree! Very interesting to hear more about how products like these are designed. Thanks for sharing..that fabric color palette. Is pretty cool!

    1. Yep, actually, the designs on Spoonflower will be available in wallpaper and wrapping paper!

  3. My daughter has been designing fabrics on Spoonflower since she was 16; she is now 23 and enjoys being a surface pattern designer! It’s really cool that other people buy her designs. Spoonflower is fantastic for creative people who know what they want from fabric design but can’t find it in the stores. You can produce any design you can dream up. And yes, you can also get wallpaper and wrapping paper.

  4. This is awesome and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

    I belong to a few “custom fabric groups” on Facebook. They are mostly designers who take matters into their own hands and cut Spoonflower out of the picture (taking pre-orders and ordering directly from printers in China). Most are geared towards garment sewing (specifically, knits), but it’s been interesting to be a part of it (as a customer) and see how it’s done. Also, the quality of their fabrics far exceeds anything I’ve seen from Spoonflower.

    One of the things the groups often do is they have a team of “strike sewists” who will purchase the or be given samples of the fabric before it’s made available to the public and sew it up into something for promotional and idea photos. If you’re interested in putting together a strike team, I’d be very interested in being involved. I’ve loved your fabrics since the first batch came out.

  5. Spoonflower used to be located in a small town where I have family. I stopped in one day, before they moved to a bigger location. It was so neat to see all the printers working! I even got a brief tour! This was back….oh…yrs ago, when they were still fairly new! I was totally geeking on how neat their whole set up was!

    I have friends who have designed and sold fabric through them over the yrs. I bought a yard of fabric a friend designed, and made her some Christmas presents from the fabric! Some dish towels and cloth napkins! I made myself a few, too. I will say that the colors faded with washing unlike normal fabrics. This WAS 6+ yrs ago, so perhaps some things are better now. I was a bit disappointed.

  6. I love the ideas and a couple of your trees at the top of this blog. I’d be inclined to want to take a larger piece, frame it out somehow creatively and put it on my wall. Beautiful!!

  7. This is one of the 2 careers I was interested in in 9th grade. No one took me seriously. Or took girls’ careers seriously. It’s fun to watch you do it!

  8. Can you believe it? I just treated myself to a new iPad Pro a couple of hours ago to use with ProCreate as a new creative outlet. I love color and I love design, so I’m excited about the ideas you’ve shared and the Spoonflower option. At 66 I finally have the time to chase every dream and cross all the streams. I’m writing murder mysteries, too. I may not excel at any of these endeavors, but I’ll have a wonderful time trying. Thanks for keeping my mojo fired up!!

  9. You really need to share this journey with us. Everyone is so fascinated by the process. Talk us through what is in your head, why are you using the colors you pick. I’m sure we will use your color pallets to bless our homes as well!!!

  10. Congrats Marian on moving right on down the road in your oh so positive way. Point in fact is how you took all those swatches and made a simple way for you to digest them in smaller increments. I can’t wait to see where you go now!!

  11. You just have a knack for creating beautiful colors that look good together….Can’t wait to see the designs and colors that you will come up with next. Love following you. You make my day a little brighter!

  12. I have followed you since you launched the paint – amazed but not surprised how far you’ve come – you share your process and help others along the way – great lady with lots of talent and class.

  13. I was pregnant with twins and was super nesting and wanted to paint everything but didn’t want to use anything toxic so I found your milk paint and painted my world- garage sale dressers for my husband and the twins, a coffee table, a Hoosier to use as a changing table, my kitchen table, a kids table you name it I milk painted it…

  14. How awesome that you are able to move into something else. You are so creative and have great insight! I will look forward to seeing your designs in Spoonflower. 😊

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