I was recently contacted by My Fabric Designs with an offer to try their fabric printing services. That offer was not contingent on mentioning the company here on my blog, but I thought my learning process might be of interest to someone, so I am going to share that here.
Of course, as of a month ago, I knew nothing about the actual mechanics of fabric design. But I love fabric, and I sure would love to be able to design my own custom fabrics! So my answer was a definite “yes” when given the opportunity to jump right in!
My Fabric Designs was kind enough to send me a swatch book to get a better idea of their fabric choices. I am horrible at translating thread count and/or ounces per yard from a description into an idea of what the actual fabric feels like in hand, so the swatches are extremely helpful. There are plenty of polyester options that do not interest me, but also a fair amount of cottons, with a bit of silk and linen thrown in for good measure. The silk crepe de chine, for instance, is probably too lightweight and sheer for my purposes - but better to know that before ordering, right!?
First things first . . . get acquainted with Photoshop. My Fabric Designs does have a fabric creator tool on their website, but I wanted to have a bit more flexibility (and it is time I actually learn to use Photoshop!). Illustrator might be a better choice, but I am taking baby steps.
Then it was off to my local library for a bit of research. The most helpful book I found there is Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design. I was mostly looking for some helpful hints on how to create a seamless repeat, but there is a lot of information about basic color theory, composition, etc. in there as well.
I was skeptical that the printing process could be printed on grain, so I thought it best to avoid straight lines and grid patterns.
And then a lot of time was spent puttering around on my computer. As a test, and to get the lay of the land, I decided that a random polka dot pattern would be a good starting point.
Since it is Spring, and there is a whole lot of blooming happening around these parts, I figured photos were a good place to start for floral designs.
So I have been taking quite a few pictures of local flora. (Thank you, neighbors, for your lovely yards full of beautiful blossoms!)
And a little while later, I came up with something I liked. Then there was even more fun to be had with color filters in Photoshop.
After coming up with a couple of designs I was happy with, I was finally ready to order some swatches of my new fabric designs!
And, if anyone has any suggestions of books or tutorials and/or experiences with digital fabric design, I would love to hear them!
[Disclosure: My Fabric Designs sent the Swatch Book to me, but the opinions posted here are my own.]