Make Your Own Dream Fabric at Home, With the Kids!

Countrygarden at SpoonflowerI don’t know about you, but every time I walk into a fabric store, I find myself mourning the loss of the kicky, amazing vintage fabrics I so admired in my grandma’s sewing pile. For me, the sweet fat ducklings of the ‘40s are so much nicer than anything they’re making nowadays. I mean, really, people? Do we need more wasabi-green polka dots on a brown background?!
In the midst of my nostalgia, I’ve found myself wishing I could just order up a few yards of a classic print, rather than forcing myself to love more modern designs. Or creating my own throw pillows from images that have meaning for me -- old paintings, or close-ups of blossoms, or antique maps. Why should it be so hard?
It’s not. If you have an eye for decorating, or you’re particularly enamored of a cool pattern your kid dreamed up, you can create your own fabric and turn it into a quilt, a frock, or anything else you can imagine. All you need is Spoonflower.


Spoonflower, the brainchild of a North Carolina couple, is a site where you can upload a digital photo, a scanned image, or a pattern created in Photoshop or Illustrator, and have it made into a fabric that you can buy (and sell) by the yard. It's print-on-demand fabric, and it's an amazing way to literally make your home design dreams come true.
Sure, you could use iron-on transfers or even printable fabric, but this has the added advantage of coming in various sizes, from quilting weight ($18/yard) to silk crepe de chine ($38/yard). Oh -- and it doesn't peel off when you wash it.

Fabric printed this way is much more versatile too -- after all, a yard can be used for a lot of things. Spoonflower sponsors contests in which customers create their versions of “cheater quilts” (fabric pre-printed with quilt designs   that you stitch onto batting), or aprons, or skirts, or plush toys, or … the possibilities are kinda limitless.
Seriously, the stuffed plushie contest alone is enough to make me want to set up a table outside the overpriced Build-a-Bear workshops with a megaphone, yelling, “Don’t do it! There is a better way!” Buy a yard of fabric and spend an afternoon cutting, sewing, and stuffing it with your kids. It could even be a party activity, with the best take-home ever.
Bottom line is this: My obsession with Spoonflower is starting to get a little creepy. I can spend hours paging through the site looking at other people’s designs and thinking up my own. I think it’s awesome that the artist in each of us has a place to make her fabric-printing fantasies a reality.
Because I really have to face facts. I might dream of creating my own patterns, but the minute I start trying to choose colors, or make things fit the right way, or translate my dreams into reality, I get paralyzed by indecision and self-loathing. There are so many talented people out there who’ve already created a better version of anything I could think of.

Would you design your own fabric and if so, what would it look like?


Image via Countrygarden/Spoonflower

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