Friday, July 14, 2017

Spoonflower Review - Off the Wall Friday

One Week before Quilting by the Lake and what am I doing??  PACKING!  Its always such a job and there is always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are forgetting that all important item.

Alphadreams, Clair Higgin

I did get a nice surprise last week.  Spoonflower, an on-demand digital printing company, was having a BOGO fat quarter sale.  Now, I've been meaning to try Spoonflower since it opened in 2010 but have been put off by the price of the process. But with this kind of sale, I thought I would give it a try!!

First of all, I decided not to design my own fabric but browse the thousands and thousands patterns of other designers.   Among the many, many, cutsy modern prints, I did find some amazing surface design type patterns.  I finally settled on ones that used letters and numbers in their designs and made an order.  Here are my findings!


Soft City, Jay Trolinger

1.  You can easily design your own fabric exactly the way you want it.  The site shows you how with
plenty of information.

2.  Ordering is easy and the lead time for fabric is less than 2 weeks.  I paid a little extra and got it in 1 week so I could take it with me to QBL.

3.  The print looked closed to what was depicted on my computer screen, with the lines nice and crisp.  I did notice on one of the darkest of the designs the colors were more muted then shown in the online picture.  (I like the muted version anyways)   The site shows you exactly how the print will come out on a fat quarter which is great so you can see the scale of it.

4.  The range of designs on the site is incredible.  Plus you can print them on a big array of fabrics which even includes knits.

5.  They're printed in the US.


1.  The process is still pretty costly.  The cheapest fabric still $17/ yd with a fat quarter being  $10.50.  I got the "Ultra Cotton" which I found pretty thin and next time I would spent the extra  $$ to have Kona cotton.  I can tell you, if I saw a print on that thin of cotton in JoAnn's fabric, I wouldn't buy it.

2.  Since these are digitally printed, the hand of the finish product is totally different than commercially made fabric.  It has a rough kind of feel.  Spoonflower recommends to wash the fabric with a non-phosphorous  detergent, which I did, and that helped a lot.  It was still a bit rough but MUCH better.  Still, I don't normally pre-wash my fabrics so this add an extra step.

Alpha Dreams,  Clair Higgins
3 I found the site's browse features pretty cumbersome to use and I had a hard time finding exactly what I was looking for.  There is so much there and it seems like there is gotta be an easier way to categorize it better.

4.  (This is pretty petty - but its a pet-peeve of mine)  My package did not come with an invoice inside.  It only had an inventory packing slip.  I like to have an actual invoice for my records rather than having to print it out myself off my emails.

So, as for this purchase, I LOVE the prints I bought and am glad that the royalties are paid to the actual designers.  I would have bought a lot more of their work if I could actually afford it.

In the future, I probably will order from Spoonflower again when I find something interesting OR I get brave enough to actually design something myself.  It definitely would have to be for a special purpose and not a "Just because" kind of thing.  I also, for sure would buy a thicker fabric!!


Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Nina Marie, Thanks so much for your post. I've looked at Spoonflower's designs, which are amazing, but with the Canadian $ being so low, it's really not feasible now. It was great to get your opinion so that I'll know what to expect. Have an amazing week of quilting!

Jo said...

I've used Spoonflower a little bit, mostly to have samples printed of some of my designs. I tried several different fabrics and found, like you did, that the cheap cotton just isn't worth it. I did like the canvas and the silk chiffon fabrics, which are far more costly. Jane Dunnewold has an informative DVD about how to use Spoonflower to produce your own fabric design.

Susan Lenz said...

In 2002 or 2003 (or perhaps even earlier), I saw an exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC called "Technology as a Catalyst". It featured contemporary work by several significant fiber artists included Susan Brandeis who used her own digital images printed on fabric ... big images ... as wide as a bolt of fabric. I was overwhelmed by the size, their beauty, and especially by the images in my own imagination ... the limitless possibilities of marrying digital imagery with stitch. At the time, I thought to myself, "Yeah ... wonderful ... if I were only a big time professor at a big time university with access to that sort of printer ... what could I do? Just don't think about it! You'll never be able to do this! You will never live long enough to have your own images printed on fabric like this."

Well, I was dead wrong!

I didn't have to die! In just a few years there was Spoonflower! Now, I can sit in the comfort of my own house, upload my own designs, and have it on material at a price I can afford. Okay, I have never browsed through designs offered by other artists. Sure, buying fabric like that is expensive compared to the bolts of fabric in a quality quilt shop. Yet, I can honestly say I'd pay twice the price for what I'm ordering! When I think about how inspired Susan Brandeis' work was, how I thought I'd never be able to have my images on fabric at a price I could afford ... well ... Spoonflower is a deal!

In 2015 I created my state's Christmas ornaments for the National Tree. I had only two months and had to make a dozen that fit into provided plexi domes. The ornaments had to address the theme of our National Parks! It was easy! Spoonflower made it easy. I uploaded public domain images from my state's national parks properties (found easily on their website and listed as "public domain") in the sizes that would fit into the dome. I had ornaments with birds, newts, Revolutionary War reenactors, native flowers, waterfalls, etc. They were made in a few days for the price of one-yard of material and shipping.

Next month I will be showing a triptych called Saint Anastasia at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. It is the result of a digital image where I combined a photo of a real person with digital images of several Russian icons ... for the price of a single yard of material.

On Sunday I am going to a National Park art residency where I will stitch in public. The work needs to reflect this unique location ... a place I've never been. Yet, the park's website has public domain images. Two have been printed on fabric and will go with me! Spoonflower is an amazing tool and worth every penny when used this way.

Last week I linked my blog post to yours. It featured a public art project as our library. The fabric was a digital images printed by Spoonflower. Please rethink how to best use this service. It is well worth the price when looking for material that is uniquely your own. Only a few years ago, this would not have been possible ... at any price unless you were some university professor with access to one of these incredible printers.

Madalene Axford Murphy said...

Glad to hear your review of Spoonflower since I keep thinking about trying it!

Sylvia said...

I have only had a few sample pieces printed out when they offered it for free introducing a new type of fabric. I would probably like to have some of my photographs printed out, but I couldn't figure out how to get a large print that wasn't tiled. I should try again.

Norma Schlager said...

Like many other people I say "one of these days", but I really should try them. I like to print on fabric, but am limited by the printer. I even went out and bought a printer on which could print 11 x 14, but for some reason it balks when I try to print on that size, so I am back to 8 1/2 x 11. I definitely am going to give Spoonflower a try.
Thanks for the great review. And to you, too, Susan.

Vera Holmgren said...

Thanks for sharing! I've heard so much about Spoonflower and this was a really interesting reading.

Turid said...

Just found your blog, and linked up a post today. Now on to find out more of what your blog is all about.

Turtlemoonimpressions said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you Susan! I've now created two difeerent digital collages and had Spoonflower print them out. The last one came back within a week without paying extra. I've been so pleased with the results. The last one will be on exhibit at The Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA, Aug 5 to Sep 23, 2017, Juried Quilt Exhibit (Little Black Dress) Reception: August 26 from 2 to 4 PM. I'm working on another now.

Jen @ de Jong Dream House said...

I've ordered a few things from Spoonflower, a few designs by others and one where I made fabric using my sister's company logo for a gift. I was disappointed in how thin the fabric was as well. I wish it was a little more cost-effective, but I do think I will pay a little more for the Kona next time, too.

Weaveron Textile said...

nice sharing on