I was recently contacted by Contrado with an offer to try out their fabric printing services. Yes, please!
They offer a massive amount of textile choices (over 95) - maybe a little too many! Navigating the fabric selections was challenging for me, and names like "Archway" and "Boston" are not especially helpful when trying to suss out the natural fibers from the synthetic - if I had to change anything about the experience, it would be that. There are various filters to apply while perusing the online fabric selection, but none of them include fiber content. Contrado was kind enough to send me a swatch pack to make the choice a bit easier. The swatches also make it easy to see how fabric content affects the dye.
And there are a few natural fibers to be found. I was very tempted by the Lima Cashmere which is a wool/silk blend. There is also a Viscose Twill, and even a Silk Satin. In the end, I decided to go with Cotton Satin. It is 100% cotton sateen with a nice mid-weight hand.
Then it was time to come up with a design. And surprise, surprise, I went with roses. This time around, I decided to learn just enough of Illustrator to create a repeating pattern. For fabric design, I think it is definitely a better choice than Photoshop. The fact that I can make something as large or small as I want is fabulous. Hooray for vectors! And because it is so difficult to find oversized florals at the fabric store, I went big!
Once I was happy with the design, I uploaded it to the Contrado website. It was easy to rotate the image so it follows the cross grain (I intend to make a circle skirt that will have to be cut crosswise). And here is the actual fabric! It arrived a mere four days after I completed my order, which is awesome.
Before sending my yardage through the wash, I cut a bit off to see just how much the hand and/or color would change. The fabric is still quite crisp after a bath. There is perhaps a tiny bit of fading if I stare at it closely, but not as much as I expected with the darker colors, and certainly not noticeable if I do not have my original reference scrap.
And now it's time to cut this up and start sewing!
[Disclosure: Contrado provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]