Blog2018-10-08T18:53:01+00:00
4December, 2018

Designing inspired by snark: The steampunk squid damask

Everything Else, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

This design always makes me shake my head. It continues to be the most popular design in my Spoonflower shop and it was entirely inspired by snark.

I created it when I was working on the Spoonflower Handbook. One of the projects we wanted to do was a shower curtain and my co-authors and I had managed to convince our editors that the print should be something a little off the wall. We wanted something that wasn’t just Pinterest-worthy, but had a little of the amazing weirdness that can be found among Spoonflower designs. So we settled on octopi, which were a big trend at that time. (They are still pretty popular.)

But we couldn’t find a design that we all agreed on that would fit in to the curriculum in the book. We had a plan for the projects in the book to help you build different skills and teach techniques as you progressed through the book. We needed this design to help teach a particular skill. The trick was to find something that both taught what we needed it to teach and passed the thumbs up of the people in charge of the “look” of the book. (That wasn’t me.)

We tried something made with clip art, but that didn’t fit the design lesson (and licensing was tricky). We tried hand-drawing something inspired by that.

We tried using a vintage illustration from a 1918 encyclopedia.

I cut it out and repeated it, I made many different colorways, we scaled it to different sizes. I made and printed 27 versions of the “octopus design” and nothing could get the thumbs up from everyone who needed to approve it. It was too creepy, too grungy, too dark, too macabre, the […]

26November, 2018

No Bah-Humbugs here.

An Artist's Life, Gallery Exhibitions|0 Comments

One of the most fun partnerships I work on is designing pieces for the Guthrie Theater Store. Last year I did a whole series inspired by Sunday in the Park with George. I have made designs inspired by the Guthrie itself. The photo above shows one of those Guthrie-inspired designs in an ad in the program and one featuring some new designs in another program.

This year they asked me to do designs for their annual production of A Christmas Carol. I know the story, but I hadn’t seen their production, so they sent me photos from last year’s production. Such fun to study all of the details and colors! Several themes or scenes jumped out at me right away:

  • Time is a big element in the story and there are clocks prominent in several of the scenes.
  • In a number of scenes I noticed actors writing with white feather pens.
  • In one scene of people singing carols around a piano I noticed the wine glasses lined up on the piano.
  • Bright streetlamps and a tiny bit of snow.

We decided to go for something that was “seasonal” without being holiday specific, so I chose rich vintage-inspired colors and bigger ideas from the story. All of the designs are made from cut paper illustrations using recycled paper.

I started with a design I called Timeless. It is made up of pocketwatches and watch chains. The colors are all soft twilight shades. The chains are also an echo of the chains on the “Ghost of Christmas Past” from the show. The papers I used for this illustration were primarily colored art paper, but “grunged up” with some alcohol ink spray to give them a more weathered texture. The background of the design is a scanned piece of hand-marbled paper, which is also a […]

16November, 2018

It’s a Craft’za Saturday!

Out & About|1 Comment

Saturday November 17 • 10 am – 4 pm

Grain Belt Building in NE Minneapolis

I have lost count of how many times I have done the Craft’za show (or its sibling, Craftstravaganza). For years, I was a volunteer demonstrator in the sun and the snow. And I have participated as a vendor three other times, I think. The organizers are great people and I always enjoy the show.

This year I have a couple of brand new items making their debut. I have neckties for the very first time. I have hesitated to make them before because they are really fiddly to sew. It’s just hard for me to make them in a way that they are actually affordable. But then I found a company called Knotty Tie, that is based in CO. Their mission, from their website: “Knotty Tie was built from scratch to create employment opportunities for resettling refugees based upon their existing skills. By creating opportunities for arriving refugees to work in their trade, and in a supportive work environment with flexible schedules, fair wages and generous benefits, we’re removing barriers for them and their families to become economically self-sufficient and culturally assimilated.” That’s a mission that I can totally get behind. I worked with Knotty Tie to digitally print my surface designs and then had the ties sewn by their organization. I do all the rest of the sewing for my items, but I like being able to support this company with these neckties. That’s something I try to do as much as I can with my business; to support other small artist-run businesses. I buy all of the zippers, ribbons, cotton tape and other notions I use in my work from other Etsy sellers and small businesses. (I bet that’s something you didn’t know.)

26October, 2018

Save This Layout and Selling your Spoonflower designs. (I learned something new.)

Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|3 Comments

I’ve been designing a bunch of tea towels for my Spoonflower shop lately. The September design challenges were all about tea towels and I did a couple of tea towel calendars too. Those kinds of designs aren’t really made to repeat. Instead you are designing a panel that is set up to be exactly the size of a fat quarter of fabric. For linen-cotton canvas, which is my preferred fabric for those, that means I am designing a rectangle that is 27×18 inches.

I had sold several of the designs to people shopping on Spoonflower, but a couple of those shoppers chose a different fabric than the linen-cotton canvas, which might not seem like a problem, except that different fabrics have different widths and so the size of the fat quarter is different. If you choose basic cotton for example, a fat quarter is only 21 x 18 inches. Which means that you are going to lose 6 inches of my design. The top photo here is showing you what a fat quarter of basic cotton looks like; the bottom shows linen-cotton canvas. If you order this design in basic cotton, a third of the calendar will be missing.

If you haven’t used Spoonflower a lot, you might not realize that what you see is exactly what you get – if that design is cut off in the preview, then that’s what your fabric is going to look like. It’s an easy mistake to make. I caught it when I saw these orders come through and contacted Spoonflower to get in touch with those customers, since I was pretty sure they didn’t actually want to have only 2/3 of the design and everything got fixed up. What I didn’t know is that I actually […]

22October, 2018

Designing stuffed toys with muslin mockups

Sewing & Design, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|1 Comment

The Spoonflower design challenge this week was a cut-and-sew project that fit on a fat quarter. I love designing these kind of things. Some of my very first Spoonflower designs were sets of stuffed toys (Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, Red Riding Hood) where you could make all of the little characters as dolls or finger puppets and then they had their house which was a bag to store them all in. All of the pieces fit on a fat quarter and you just cut them out and sewed them together. The way this design challenge was set up you could make a cut-and-sew anything. Many people made stuffed animal toys, but you could do things bags, headbands or bibs as long as they fit on that 21×18 inch rectangle.

I struggled with this one a little bit. I was going to re-do a sheep stuffed toy pattern that I had in my Etsy shop years and years ago. I thought it would be easy to convert since I had already pattern tested it. But I just wasn’t excited about it and it’s a little fiddly to sew together.

Then I thought about a conversation I had with my friend Megan, who owns a local yarn and fabric store called Knit & Bolt. For a class I was teaching, I interviewed Megan about trends she saw in fabrics – what sells, what doesn’t sell, what do people come in looking for. One of the things that came up was cut-and-sew panels like these. They are popular at her shop, but one of the things she noticed about them is that although they seem like a really great beginner project for new stitchers, often the actual sewing parts are really difficult. She had an […]

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Hi, I’m Becka.

Talking about fabric design, Spoonflower, teaching, and the life and business of being an artist.

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