Blog2020-08-12T23:03:19-05:00
15July, 2021

Sewing with Spoonflower’s Cotton Lawn

Everything Else|1 Comment

I was really excited to get a yard of Spoonflower’s new Cotton Lawn to try out. This new fabric is a very finely woven lightweight cotton. It’s very smooth and has a crispness that makes it feel really nice in your hand. I got just a yard of fabric printed in one of my designs and decided to make my favorite tank, which is the Gemma by Made By Rae. I have probably made a dozen of these tanks over the years and if you have ever taken an in-person class from me, you probably have probably seen me wearing one. It’s my go-to teaching outfit.

Usually I make this tank in the poly crepe de chine because it has always been the lightest weight and most drapey of Spoonflower’s fabric options (I am not counting chiffon, which is very transparent and not so appropriate for this kind of garment.) So I thought that lawn would also be a great option, but I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this version in lawn.

Print Quality

The sharpness and color of the printing on the cotton lawn is just outstanding. As I talked about in my earlier review of Spoonflower’s Signature/Poplin/Sateen, some of the finer details can get lost on the more textured fabrics. The lawn has such fine threads that it really captures all of the texture. This is a design that I made with cut paper mosaic tiles made from handpainted deli paper. You can see all of the brush strokes and color depth really well. This might be a new favorite for me when we are talking strictly the look of the printing.

Sewing with the Cotton Lawn

Since this is a pattern I have made many times before, I just got out my pattern pieces and […]

9June, 2021

Fabric Review: Spoonflower’s Minky, Celosia Velvet and Performance Velvet

Everything Else, Fabric Reviews, Sewing & Design, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

Spoonflower just introduced their new Performance Velvet fabric and I thought that it was a great time to do a fabric review of the Three Plush Fabrics of Spoonflower. As always with my other reviews of Spoonflower fabrics, I just want to say that these are my own opinions and experiences with these fabrics. I don’t get any kind of promotional, incentive, or other kickbacks; I just like to be able to share some in-depth info with students in my classes and all of you out there trying to get started designing your own fabrics.

Spoonflower has three great fabrics with a napped or plush finish: Minky, Celosia Velvet, and Performance Velvet. You can click through any of those links to see the detailed specs on each of those fabrics.

What they have in common.

All three of the fabrics have several things in common. All three are 100% polyester and 54″ printable width. All three have a plush or napped surface, which vary in pile length from .5mm (celosia) to 2mm (minky). All three are heavier or thicker weight fabrics compared to quilting cotton.

All of the printed designs are technically sharp, because the plush fabrics move around as you brush your hand over the surface, that can make fine details disappear and edges look softer than if you print on a smooth fabric like Sateen or Poplin.

Key Differences.

Here are some of the key differences I noticed that might help you choose which fabric is best for your project.

Fabric Base Color

Minky and Performance Velvet are bright white, where Celosia has a little more cream undertone. I don’t think it effects the print colors substantially, but you would notice if your design had a lot of white space or lighter colors in it. You can see in the photo […]

12May, 2021

When did you learn how to sew?

Everything Else|2 Comments

I saw a thing going around Instagram recently asking people to tell their stories about when they learned how to sew. Many many of them were stories about how people either learned when they were 11 years old from a family member or they learned during 2020 because it was 2020 and they decided it was time to figure it out. Both answers are pretty awesome.

So I thought about what my story would be and the answer is: I am still learning.

Just this past couple of weeks I was making a new piece for an exhibition I was invited to. It is always completely delightful to be invited to show your work and I wanted to make something new. The opportunities to get my art out there have been pretty scarce this last year because nothing was open, so there just wasn’t much demand. So I haven’t been really making exhibition pieces; I’ve been focused elsewhere.

When I make a piece for an exhibition, I usually start with a story I want to tell. I have had an idea for series of pieces in my head for a while; the story is about having conversations about mental health. As my husband and I navigated our way through the last two years, we realized that one way that we had of coping with everything going on with COVID, elections, riots, and the loss of both of our beloved Labradors to cancer was to talk about how we were feeling. And we agreed that we could talk about all of the “dumb stuff” that you convince yourself is silly: “Why am I still crying a month after my dog died? Grown-ups don’t do that.” And admitting to each other when we were each having rough mental health days. We realized that those conversations […]

22March, 2021

How I take Photos & My Studio Setup

An Artist's Life, Everything Else, Tutorials|1 Comment

I thought it might be really appropriate to start off with a “How it started; How it’s going” kind of meme to talk about photography. When I first started making my art to sell or to show at gallery exhibitions about 20 years ago, the first and worst stumbling block was getting good photos. I had a camera, but I had no experience in what it took to get great photos of objects and I absolutely couldn’t afford to hire someone to take photos for me. So I needed to learn how to do it myself. This was before Etsy was really around, so there weren’t a bunch of tutorials to help you or recommend photo white boxes that were easy to find. (Wow, I am making myself feel old!) So everything I learned was by trial and error and I mean LOTS of trial and error.

The felted dragon shown up above was one of the first photos of my art that I found when I went digging through my photo archives. This is the photo straight off my camera. You can barely see the little guy because the image is so dark. I thought a plain background would be best, so I draped some white fabric behind it but it’s really wrinkly and not really professional looking at all.

Things I learned: You always need more light.
LIGHT. Light is the answer to nearly every photo dilemma. This is absolutely the one thing that made the most difference to my photos. My very first photo setup was to put objects on a table in my guestroom and masking tape a piece of white muslin up behind them. I had four utility shop lights that I got from Home Depot and I put the brightest bulbs in them that they were […]

11January, 2021

Resting the Creative Brain through Stitching

An Artist's Life, Embroidery|1 Comment

I spent August stitching. And September. And October, November and December. In fact, I still have a box of stitchery on my dining room table and I pick up something almost every night. My job as an artist means that I am making things during most of the hours of my work days. Depending on the day I am writing, or photographing, or assembling kits or making things for my Etsy shops, or making art for one of half a dozen projects. But all of those things I do during my work day are “me powered”. I am the one designing, making the creative decisions, assembling the practice pieces, doing the edits. It’s a one-woman-show here and if I’m not doing the work, then nothing gets done. Most of the time I love it and I love being busy.

But with everything going on in 2020, my creative brain was feeling just tapped out. I’m sure this sounds familiar to some of you. I managed to keep a lot of my regular juggling balls in the air, so to speak, but I just didn’t have much capacity for taking on anything new or thinking of the next new thing or the next big art project. The class proposals that I used to put together in an afternoon were taking me a week (with a lot of procrastinating). I couldn’t think of anything to write here on the blog. I didn’t want to make art because it just felt like it was simultaneously too much to take on and why-bother-because-no-ones-going-to-see-it-anyway-because-everything-is-cancelled. It was really frustrating and exhausting, so I just kept getting sucked in to doomscrolling and reading Firefly novelizations because it was just easier.

Let me introduce you to my friend Mr. Scrooge. He’s an ornament pattern designed by my […]

30October, 2020

This post is brought to you by me, or how affiliate links can make it harder for the rest of us

An Artist's Life, Classes & Teaching, Everything Else|1 Comment

I got an email a few days ago asking me a question about a Spoonflower fabric. I get questions like this on a semi-regular basis with someone wanting a recommendation for a project they are working on. I am happy to chime in with my experience; I’ve used most of the fabrics for one project or another. My site is covered with Spoonflower fabric in use. But as I was writing the email answer, I thought to myself, “didn’t I already write a blog post that answered this?” It felt like deja vu. I checked and it turns out I hadn’t, but my first instinct was to just look up that post and send the person a link to it. After all, if I wrote up a post it’s probably more in depth, more detailed, more thoughtful than what I would answer writing you an email in response.

But, I was talking with another colleague and apparently there is a kerfluffle in the craft/knitting/sewing online community because a teacher responded to a question just like I was going to do: “here’s a link to a video on my website where I answer that question.” Only the problem is that the person asking didn’t like that response and accused the teacher of just being self-promotional. Apparently a personal email in response to a question would have been fine, but a link to a video answering the same question wasn’t. Wow.

This made me think about an Instagram account that I unfollowed just a couple of days ago. The person was demonstrating some kind of a tool in a video post. It was something about quilting, which isn’t really my thing, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the post. But there were lots of comments asking about a tool that they […]

Hi, I’m Becka.

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

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