9 April, 2024

A Review of Spoonflower’s Metallic Wallpapers

2024-04-09T17:08:36-05:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design|0 Comments

Spoonflower just recently introduced two new metallic wallpapers in silver and gold. I ordered some swatches in two of my own designs so I could check them out. Before I jump in to talk about the papers I want to make a little disclaimer: I am not going to talk about using this as wallpaper and hanging it on a wall. I am not a decorator and I don’t use wallpaper in that way. I am a paper artist, so I am going to talk about it in that context as art paper. (So if you are looking for tips about hanging it or what type of paste to use, I am not your girl.)

The new Silver and Gold wallpapers are basically identical except for color. Each paper has a base or background color of either silver or gold that your design is printed on top of. The color of the paper shows through any white areas of the design and gives the overall colors of the design a tinted shimmer. You can see the unprinted selvedges of the paper here to get an idea what that base color looks like.

The color of the paper does influence the color of the printed designs, so I picked a couple of my designs I thought would really compliment the silver and gold undertones. These printed beautifully. The colors are really crisp and sharp and the metallic makes them look very rich.

The paper has an irregular fibery texture. I’ve heard people describe it as leathery. I think it looks a little like a surface that has been gold leafed. It’s not smooth like copy paper, but it reminds me of a satin or brushed metal finish you see on jewelry. The surface is not plasticky which was a very pleasant surprise but it feels like paper.

The weight is about equivalent to a mid weight drawing paper. It takes a crease and curves around surfaces nicely without cracking. I made two coptic bound sketchbooks with my swatches (up above) and it wrapped easily around the corners and edges. The paper didn’t burnish or get marked when I used a bone folder to guide it around the corners.

The back side of the paper is a plain white matte paper surface that feels a little like newsprint. Since it’s designed to have glue added to it, it soaked up the PVA I used for the book covers and glued to the cover boards as easy as anything.

I took a really short video so you could really get a sense of the shimmer of the metallic since that’s so difficult to capture in a still photo.

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about this paper! The first thing I did when I finished making these book covers and I was waiting for the glue to dry was order 4 more swatches with different designs. I am planning to make a covered box next.

It might also be amazing as a wall covering but I think it’s a really cool new art paper and I can’t wait to figure out more ways of incorporating it into my designs. I ordered swatches which are 24×12 inches, which gives me plenty to make several covered books and try some experiments.

20 November, 2023

Fabric Design Spotlight: Security Detail

2023-11-20T17:38:19-06:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design|2 Comments

One of my favorite materials to make fabric designs from is the humble security envelope. They are the ones with black and white patterns on the inside that your bank statements or rebate checks come in. They come in multitudes of patterns and I collect them every chance I get. I wanted to do a set of new patterns for the holiday season this year, so I decided to illustrate two dozen dogs and cats on security envelopes.

I drew them with a black pen, cut them out and used some scraps of magazine photos to make their colorful collars. Here are some of the dogs.

After I drew them, I temporarily attached them to a piece of cardstock so I could scan them all at once. Then I pulled them in to Photoshop and made a repeating tiles, so you had a continuous pattern of dogs. There’s not a lot a magic to doing a seamless repeat like this, it just takes a lot of patience to get everything lined up perfectly to match from one tile to the next.

Once I had finished a seamless pattern of both cats and dogs, I decided to reuse the same art and make a calendar tea towel. I love when I can use art multiple ways to make different designs. For the tea towel, I already had made the months for a different design three or four years ago using ransom note style letters and numbers cut out from magazine pages. I rearranged the numbers to match 2024 and created a new calendar design with a cat and a dog sitting next to each month. Here’s a screenshot of the calendar in progress.

Then, I decided to reuse the cats and dogs once again, but to make holiday ornaments! Once I have the original paper art scanned, I can do anything I want to with the originals. Sometimes I remake them into other things.

To make ornaments, I wrapped some scraps of bookboard with marbled paper that I made in a class. I covered the front side with handmade lokta paper in a solid color and then added one of the cats or dogs on top. I punched a hole in the top with an awl and threaded through some sparkly ribbon to make a hanger. Each one got a tiny initialed signature in the corner.

The rest of the ornaments went off to holiday shows at the Northrup King Building and North Suburban Center for the Arts, but I decided that I needed to keep this Stanley for myself. I love this particular security envelope design so much. If you look closely it says “PLEASE RECYCLE THIS ENVELOPE.”

I’m sold out of calendar tea towels but you can get them from my Spoonflower shop! 

7 August, 2023

Pattern Review: Itch to Stitch Santorini Tank

2023-08-07T12:47:53-05:00Fabric Reviews, Sewing & Design|1 Comment

It’s been about 5 years since I have sewed something just for myself, just for fun. That seems crazy to me, but I think the last one was a dress for my sister’s wedding. I do a lot of sewing for my business, so the machine has put in the miles, but the only things I have made have been basically business related.

I realized that I wanted to just spend a day sewing for me. So I went on a search for some fabric that was not something I had designed and was something a little special. I have had great luck ordering some Indian cotton fabrics on Etsy. I ordered several yards of block printed cotton from this shop. It’s lovely. Smooth, soft, washed beautifully. Exactly what I wanted for a blouse.

I was going to make a favorite tank pattern (Gemma by Made by Rae) which I have made several dozen of over the years, but I needed to do an adjustment to the pattern because my body just isn’t the same shape it was 10 years ago and I was just feeling like I wanted to sew and not do math. So I was doing a little searching and this pattern popped up in my feed and I had to try it.

The Santorini Tank by Itch to Stitch. So much to love: the interesting seam lines, the button detail on the side. The fact that this pattern comes in sizes 00-40 and 4 different cup sizes! I’ve made one other pattern by Itch to Stitch before and I loved it, so I was pretty sure it was going to be great.

It took me about 4 1/2 hours to tape the pattern pieces together, cut out and sew my first one. I chose a size 12, C cup based on measurements but I have decided that it has more ease than I prefer, so I will go down at least a size in the future. (I made two; you’ll see that later.) I found vintage shell buttons in my stash, which were perfect.

What I love:

  • It has a great way of stitching the armhole facings “burrito style” and a link to a blog post about how to do it if the instructions are confusing to you.
  • The finishing details were really thoughtful. No weird raw edges on the inside.
  • Great instructions with lots of links to extra help.
  • The fit/shape is awesome.

My adaptations:

  • The pattern calls for 5 – 1/2 inch buttons which felt like not enough to me. I did 7 and they were slightly larger.
  • My sewing machine had issues stitching the two buttonholes right at the top because of the extra/varying thickness of fabric there. Not the fault of the pattern, but I might think about how I could tweak that construction a little bit so I don’t need to seam rip buttonholes out. (Argh!)
  • Eleventy-one pins really does make all the difference in making a curved hem lay nice and flat. I used the hemming method from the Gemma Tank which I mentioned up above, because I have had success with that before.

And then I made another one!

I also had a piece of Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe which I got from Wyldwood Creative. She “unboxed” it live on Instagram and I ordered it that day. I love this vintage style print and texture. See a photo below. The one I chose is Lucie Cedar (green); she also has it in a blue and a gold/peach color. I had never seen this fabric in person before so I felt like this was a little leap of faith and I was absolutely rewarded! It is so gorgeous.

I decided to take another chance and I threw the fabric in the washer and dryer when it got here. Spoiler alert: that is not what the washing instructions tell you to do. But if I am making a garment, I will need to wash it and it’s going to end up in the laundry at some point no matter how carefully I try to remember to pull it out for special treatment. That’s just how it works at my house. I lucked out. It came out great with my not-following-the-instructions treatment.

For this one, I didn’t have enough fabric to do the button band and I decided with this very drapey fabric and busy print that it wouldn’t be a good match anyway. But I loved the way this pattern went together, so I just decided to make up another one and sew up the side seam, skipping the buttons. I could slip the other version on over my head without unbuttoning, so I didn’t need to invent another kind of closure.

The first version I made was too large in the bust for me and so I took it in as I was fitting/stitching. Instead of doing that again for this one, I reprinted the pattern and went down a size, so this is a size 10 C cup. I took about an inch in on either side on the previous version, so I just looked for a new size combo that was that much smaller. I loved how I could look at the chart of all of the combos of garment size measurements and find exactly what I needed. Ultimately, I chose to size down overall vs changing to a B vs a C cup (which also could have worked).

This one is close to a perfect fit. The bust still feels like it gapes a little at the underarms so if I do another, I might just swap out the B cup pieces but stick with this size and see if that makes it just right for me. Otherwise it’s just a little pattern tweak.

This is my favorite kind of top with some skinny jeans and a light cardigan when the weather gets cooler. So I can see myself making many more in this style and using some of my Spoonflower fabrics. With the button detail I think I would choose lawn or sateen. Without the buttons, poly crepe de chine would be very similar to this viscose crepe.

27 July, 2023

Wonder what to do with Spoonflower Wallpaper Swatches? Make a book!

2023-07-27T17:22:49-05:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|1 Comment

I made a handful of these for holiday and graduation gifts this year and I wanted to share this fun idea! I ordered a swatch of Spoonflower’s peel-and-stick wallpaper a few weeks ago because I am thinking of updating a backsplash behind the stove in my kitchen. It’s currently wallpapered in peel-and-stick, which I did about 4 years ago and it looks awesome, but I wanted to change it up for something different. So, I ordered a swatch of this design by red_tansy but as soon as I got the swatch I realized the scale was too large for my tiny space. So I ordered another in a smaller scale.

But what to do with this leftover swatch? The answer for me is to make a book! I learned to make coptic sketchbooks a little more than a year ago at a class at the MN Center for Book Arts. I fell in love. These are fast to make and I love the exposed stitching on the binding. In our class, we tore the paper down from larger sheets which gives the pages a torn organic edge, which I also think is so pretty. I love all of the “imperfections” that make these really look handmade. I’m going to start teaching these as a class soon, but if you are interested in making a sketchbook like this, check out StoneBurnerBooks on YouTube. Her tutorials are fantastic.

The paper I have for the inside pages tears down beautifully to make pages for a book that is 4×5 inches, which is a nice pocket size. That also means that you need just a piece of wallpaper 5×12 inches to make the covers, which you can get easily from a 12×24 wallpaper swatch. The peel-and-stick wallpaper is durable and water resistant, which is ideal for a book cover. I know this is going to hold up to use.

If you’ve used Spoonflower’s peel-and-stick wallpaper in the past, they’ve got a new substrate in the last year and it’s very different than the previous one. I love it. Get a swatch! The new wallpaper takes a crease better and it is stickier than the previous version. It’s still removable if you use it on the wall, but that makes it even more usable for craft projects like this. Which is the way I use it most often.

I made the covers from a lighter weight book board and wrapped the outside in peel-and-stick wallpaper. For the inside endpapers, I used a scrap of gelli plate printed paper that I just made in another class. The colors were so perfect when I saw it on the table that I had to choose it. The PVA glue I used for the endpapers sticks nicely to the wallpaper, so you don’t have to worry about it peeling up from that slightly glossy wallpaper surface. I let the glue dry overnight under weight to make sure the boards did not warp, but the whole book went together in just a couple of hours.

When I made these for holiday & graduation gifts, I scaled down several of my own designs on Spoonflower so they would be the right scale for a small book cover like this. That’s easy to do. And with one swatch I can make half a dozen covers easily.

18 April, 2023

Review: Spoonflower’s Fleece vs Polartec Fleece

2023-04-24T17:18:29-05:00Everything Else, Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Review: Spoonflower’s Fleece vs Polartec Fleece

Spoonflower recently launched a new fleece fabric made by Polartec. Polartec is the company known for “inventing” fleece fabric and I remember hearing that their fabrics were the “best” back in the 90s. So I was super curious to see a swatch when Spoonflower recently launched their new Polartec fleece fabric.

Spoonflower now has two fleece fabrics: fleece and Polartec Fleece. I am going to refer to the regular fleece as “classic” just for clarity as I talk about them. I have made several projects with Spoonflower’s classic fleece and I have been a little disappointed with it. The Polartec fleece is a slightly higher cost per yard than the classic, but in many other ways they are nearly indistinguishable. And I mean that pretty literally. Both are a bright white, made from 100% polyester, super soft on both sides. The print quality looks the same as far as color saturation and sharpness. I had to keep referring to the labels on my swatches to make sure I was looking at the right fabric as I was thinking about this review.

Differences I can see

The Polartec Fleece (bottom) is heavier/thicker than the classic fleece (top), but the difference is pretty slight when you feel the two fabrics. The classic fleece is 56″ printable width, Polartec is 60″.

There is an almost unnoticeable color difference between the two fabrics. I only mention it because I was really looking for differences I could talk about. Some of the colors look very slightly warmer on the classic fleece vs Polartec fleece. I really can only see it in the brown/tan shades and not the other colors.

The thing I was most interested in looking at was the amount of pilling. I have made myself two hoodies from the classic fleece and I hardly ever wear them anymore because they look really pilled. This is definitely more noticeable on a darker colored design. This adorable polar bear is this design by Scrummy and you can see the pilling really clearly here.

I washed both of these swatches several times before writing this review so I could try to see how they held up. I put them through regular wash and dry cycles with my everyday laundry. The results are not very clear. In the photo below, the Polartec fleece is on the left, classic fleece on the right. You can definitely see some texture/pilling on the classic fleece, but I can also see some on the Polartec. As of writing this, Spoonflower has the classic fleece fabric detail page with a pilling rating of 1.5 (with 1 being severe), but that detail is missing from the Polartec fleece detail page. Maybe it’s too new to have that information yet.

I think I would definitely order a swatch of a design in darker colors and wash it a bunch of times before I decided to invest the time making another project from the either fleece. In general it’s everything you expect fleece to be in how it sews and keeps its softness, but I am turned off with how it looks after a few washings. This is true of MANY other fleece fabrics for me, so this isn’t a knock against Spoonflower’s fleece choices specifically.

If you want to read more about Spoonflower fabrics and my experiences with them, be sure to check out my other fabric review posts.

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