19 April, 2022

New Online Classes!

2022-04-19T15:32:39-05:00Classes & Teaching, Everything Else, Spoonflower & Fabric Design, UpcomingClasses|Comments Off on New Online Classes!

Want to listen instead of reading?

It’s class launch day! I have four new online classes open for registration today, from fabric design to hands-on art with recycled materials. I offer both on-demand classes where you can register and take the class on your schedule any time and live online classes where you can join me on Zoom for a virtual class. Here’s what’s new!

New on-demand classes at Teachable

Postcard Art From Everyday Materials. In 2020, I developed a series about making art from every day materials you might find around your house like scrap paper, glue stick, recycled envelopes, post-it notes. For each technique, I show you three or four designs to make into mailable postcards or other small art pieces. I originally partnered with Dakota County Libraries to host these on Facebook, but now I have them here on my website with added links, ideas and resources.

Crafting a Class. Learn how to plan, prepare, promote, and teach an awesome hands-on class. From setting goals and writing your description to fine tuning your supply list and managing students at different skill levels, this online class goes in-depth to help you craft the best class you can. I’ve redone all of the videos and added new lessons about teaching online, setting up a Zoom classroom and more.

Live online classes held on Zoom

A Spoonful of Spoonflower. Thursday May 12, 7:00 pm CDT Get a tour of what it’s like to design fabrics and print them using Spoonflower, a web-based service for printing your own fabric designs. During class, I’ll walk through creating a simple two-color design from creating a sketch to uploading and ordering. I usually only offer this for guilds and private groups and I thought I should do one that’s open to anyone!

Designing Kumihimo Braids Thursday June 16, 7:00 pm CDT Learn the basics of kumihimo, a multi-stranded braid which originated in Japan. In this class you will learn both an 8 and 16 stranded braid pattern and how to make your own marudai braiding loom. We will talk about how to design your own braid variations with different colors and yarn weights or textures.

Be sure to also check out the other classes I have available by clicking the links to Live Classes & Events or On Demand Online Classes in the menu above.

24 February, 2022

A Pamphlet Book with Spoonflower’s Grasscloth Wallpaper

2022-02-24T15:34:18-06:00An Artist's Life, Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|4 Comments

I’m not really a home decorating kind of person, so when Spoonflower introduced a new Grasscloth Wallpaper, I was intrigued to know what it was like, but it was pretty unlikely that I was going to be inspired to wallpaper parts of my house. So I decided to think about another project I could do with wallpaper. I have been very slowly working on a “Book Arts Certificate” from the MN Center for Book Arts here in Minneapolis over the past couple of years. I’ve loved book binding, marbling and paper making and have not really loved the letterpress because of major ink fumes and inaccessibility (I can’t really do it at my house.) But I love working with paper.

So I decided to make a pamphlet book. I am woefully un-expert at all of the vocabulary of book arts; there is a LOT. But basically a pamphlet book is sheets of folded paper, stitched together to make a binding, with a heavier paper on the outside for a cover. With my sewing background, I love sewn bindings. So I ordered a swatch of grasscloth wallpaper in one of my designs and decided to use that as my cover. When it arrived, it was rolled up and wouldn’t lay flat, so I unrolled it, slipped it under the heavy cutting mat that sits on my desk and let it flatten out for several days.

Grasscloth wallpaper is like a woven fabric backed with paper. It has a warp and weft that is very prominent, making its iconic texture. One set of threads are heavier than the other, which gives it a rib like texture. On the sample you can see at the top, the heavier threads are running parallel to the selvedge (that unprinted edge of the wallpaper sample) or horizontally across my design. This is the sisal or the grass in grasscloth. The threads running the other way are much thinner. As a wallpaper, it has a really rich looking texture. It has a very matte finish and feels like a piece of art paper when you run your fingers across it.

The first experiment I did was to see if I could fold it because I needed to make at least one fold to make the spine of my book. It folds much better parallel to those heaver threads than if you fold across them. They are brittle, so they crack rather than folding. So I decided I needed to keep that in mind when I was cutting my cover. That meant that I needed to rotate 90 degrees so that my fold and the heavier threads were going the same way. It doesn’t really matter on this design, but you’d have to keep that in mind with a more obvious directional print.

One thing I noticed right away when I unrolled my wallpaper sample was that the edges felt a little fragile. It was easy to catch the fibers and peel them up from the backing. If it was glued flat to a wall that wouldn’t be so much a problem, but for a book cover it wasn’t ideal. I decided to bind the edges of the cover like you do with a quilt by wrapping a narrow strip around them. I tried a fabric tape I had and some simple 1/2 inch strips of white tissue paper. I didn’t have any in green, but I think that might have even kind of disappeared into this design. I made a couple of little samples and decided that I liked the way the tissue paper didn’t add any bulk to the cover, so I decided to go with that. For this one, I used gluestick to attach it to the cover. I think next time I would use a brush and some PVA (Elmers) glue because the glue stick was drying so fast, it was a challenge to get everything lined up and stuck in place. I stuck it to the back and then folded over to the front of each edge of the cover. I burnished it down with my bone folder to make sure it really stuck well to all of the bumps in the paper texture. It works great and traps all of those cut ends so nothing is rough or catching.

Finally I used the bone folder to score the cover and carefully fold it in half. I added the pages, which I made from some lightweight drawing paper, and used an awl to punch holes through so I could stitch the binding using some perle cotton thread. It makes a great paperback journal! I’m going to put mine under a heavy book for a couple of days to really set the fold so it doesn’t pop open. If you want to try one like mine, I cut my papers and cover to 9×6 inches and the strips of tissue paper were 1/2 wide and I trimmed them to length after I glued them. Here’s a really simple tutorial on how to make a pamphlet book like this. In the photo with the book cover open you can see the back of the wallpaper, which is a nice plain white paper. It comes without any paste on it, so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet or sticky, which makes it a better choice for a project like this than the Smooth Wallpaper that comes pre-pasted. I will probably be able to make 4 books like this from the 24×12 inch swatch I got. It was really fun to see if this would work and I think it makes a beautiful book.

5 August, 2021

You Don’t Have to Spend Money to Make Art & A Symposium Takeaway

2021-08-29T22:07:17-05:00An Artist's Life, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|4 Comments

I attended the first ever Surface Design Symposium with Craft Industry Alliance and Spoonflower today. It was a day of webinars on different topics about being a surface designer: marketing, licensing, creating repeats in Illustrator and Procreate. It had a little something for lots of interests. I didn’t go to every session, but I picked three that I thought I would take a little something away from. I think overall the conference was aimed at a slightly more beginner level than I am, but I always learn something new from watching someone else teach. So I had a lot of fun.

There were a lot of messages about embracing your style, getting your work out there, or doing something every day to further your goals. Those are really great advice. The whole conference had a real “can do” and “everyone is welcome” kind of vibe in many ways. But I realized sitting down and reflecting about what I had learned today that there was also a more subtle message: that to be successful, you had to have money to get there. Absolutely no one said this specifically or explicity; don’t get me wrong. The intent was absolutely not to say “you have to buy your way to success”, but in each session I attended, often the advice that the panelists gave involved investing in something with a not insignificant cost.

For example, one person advised getting a fat quarter of your favorite designs and making something with it that you could photograph and show on Instagram. That’s an awesome idea and I think it’s great advice. People love to see samples of the “real thing”. But then I think about my personal budget for “making random things to show on Instagram” and I wonder how many fat quarters that stretches to. Fat quarters are about $10-$20 a piece. That adds up fast.

Another panelist talked about how Spoonflower is almost more curated than other print-on-demand companies because you do have to purchase a swatch before you can make something available for sale. Her point was that as a designer you might self-curate or post your best work because there was an investment of money (as well as time) in order to putting your design out there. She has a totally great point there as well; I might be more picky about what I placed for sale knowing that it’s not free to do it. But on the flip side, that means that I need to have a budget to be able to pay $1-5 a piece to make my designs part of the Marketplace.

Several of the presenters talked about or demonstrated using Adobe Illustrator and I learned several things watching one of those sessions. It was great! I love Illustrator. It took me YEARS to learn it and it was hard to learn, but I use it all the time now. My husband worked for Adobe for many years; we are big fans of all of the Adobe software. That’s how I could afford to learn it when my business was just a baby.

The panelists talked about how Illustrator was a standard for surface design so you should really invest the time to learn it if you wanted to work in the field more professionally. I don’t disagree. They also talked about how they often used it in conjunction with other tools like an iPad and Procreate. But wow. Getting an iPad, Procreate, an Apple Pencil, and a subscription to just Adobe Illustrator for a year is about $1500 (on the low end). That’s a big investment and more than I used to make working for a month at my non-profit arts job.

Those are just three examples, and there were many more recommendations for classes and tools, which were all great and valuable resources for sure, but also involved additional costs. I absolutely agree with all of the panelists that you can do a lot by investing in your art and learning and it’s important to do that. I am a teacher; I believe in that 100%. But not everyone can jump in full-time the minute they are inspired to try it. Even having the conference in the middle of the day on a week day made it inaccessible to aspiring artists with regular day jobs (which is a lot of us).

I thought about how much these sessions would have completely broken my heart when I was just starting out because there’s no way our budget would have been able to stretch to afford all of those things that were recommended. I still don’t make enough regularly in commissions on Spoonflower to pay for my Adobe subscription. As a new artist, an iPad for me would have been equivalent to a couple of months rent and completely out of the question. So if I had one more message to contribute to the discussion today it would be:

 You don’t have to spend money to make art

Sure, Illustrator is an amazing tool and fun to use. Yes, it’s fun to print your fabric and make a quilt from it. But you don’t HAVE TO do that to get started. There are many ways to make art and you don’t have to spend lots of money to do it. You just have to want to make art.

I have struggled for years as a teacher trying to figure out the best way to teach people how to get started in designing fabrics. When we were working on the Spoonflower Handbook, I was a huge advocate for not making the instructions be step-by-steps for using Photoshop or Illustrator, but using more general tools and concepts that were common to many kinds of graphic design apps. That probably made some people crazy, but I thought it was important to not make the book specific to one app. I love to teach Photoshop and Illustrator because I think they are fun and they are tools I use all the time, but the guilds and groups that would approach me to teach for them were asking more and more about alternatives because their members were really interested in learning, but couldn’t afford to buy an iPad or subscribe to Photoshop. “Can you teach us with something that’s free?” they said. I wrote a grant to buy 6 Chromebooks so I could teach more people who didn’t have access to a laptop. I developed a series of classes that used all kinds of other apps that work on different platforms. And for a while I felt disappointed teaching them because it felt like it wasn’t “professional” enough or that I wasn’t good enough to teach Photoshop like the “famous” designers.

And what I realized was that I was perpetuating the myth. There is a huge group of new artists out there who want to learn but are stuck because they think the only way to do it is to have an iPad and Procreate and an Adobe subscription and that’s the only message that’s getting out there. I heard it again today.

When you learned to ride a bike, you had a tiny little rig with training wheels. You didn’t start on a ten speed, but you were still learning all the fundamentals to ride a bike. There’s no reason to start learning to be a designer with Illustrator. As much as I love Illustrator, it’s just a TOOL. It doesn’t make my art great; I do. And I can use any tool I want to make my art. No matter what tool I am using, I am learning how to make better art by doing it. Several of the panelists spoke to this today too; the more art you make, the better you get at it. Someone on a panel mentioned a one year timeline to get to be a successful surface design artist. That’s fiction. Everyone has a different journey and a different timeline.

You can watch all of the recorded sessions from the conference on Spoonflower’s blog later next week and I think there’s some awesome information there but the biggest thing I learned was that I need to keep helping to make learning fabric design MORE accessible. There aren’t enough people doing that. I don’t want the fabric design community that I am a part of to be limited only to people who have the flexibility to take a day off to attend a conference or those who can afford an iPad and Photoshop. You might need to proof some designs or print some fat quarters to help grow your business, but you don’t have to start out with that investment. You can grow to get there at your own pace. I want to find more ways to help people get started, like the Intro to Pixlr for Fabric Design class I launched a few weeks ago, and that’s what I want to keep teaching. (Pixlr is a free web-based design app a lot like Photoshop.) If you take the time to go watch those symposium sessions, think about this post as an extra bonus session with a message that says: You just have to want to make art.

Origami model “Bunny Bill” shown at top by Mark Morden, folded by me.

9 June, 2021

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

2021-06-09T15:02:49-05:00Everything Else, Fabric Reviews, Sewing & Design, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|2 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 above that the pale blue on the bottom of the design is slightly greener on the Celosia Velvet because of the warm base color underneath.

Look and Feel of the Fabrics

All three are very soft to the touch, but I think the Performance Velvet has the nicest hand feel with a very soft surface and a thick plush feeling fabric. Although Minky is very soft on the surface, it is also the thinnest of the fabrics, so it doesn’t feel as substantial. Celosia Velvet has a plush that feels slightly stiffer, more of what I think of as “upholstery velvet”.

Each fabric also has a distinct finish. Celosia Velvet has a subtle shine that is my personal favorite. I think that little bit of reflection gives it a more luxe look than the others. Performance Velvet has a matte finish. It reminds me of a vintage cotton velvet that you occasionally find in a thrift store. Minky looks “furry” to me and I think you see the nap or the fact that it’s a plush much more obviously than the others.

Drape

I think this is one of the most distinct differences between the three fabrics. In the photo above I tried to demonstrate so you can see how each fabric behaves. On the left, I pinched the fabric and picked it up, so you can see how the folds fall naturally. On the right, the fabric is laid flat, pinched and twisted.

Celosia Velvet is the stiffest, even though it’s about 2oz lighter per yard than the Performance Velvet. It has a more structural feel and no stretch. You can see it falls in very stiff folds.

Performance Velvet is the next softer drape. Although it is technically a thicker/heavier fabric, it falls in softer folds when you pick it up and it moves a little more freely.

Minky has the most drape of the three, with a more liquid sort of movement. It is only 6 oz per yard compared to Performance Velvet’s 11 oz, so even though it reads as “thick” it is really lighter weight. You can see the “furry” surface of Minky most when it is bent or rippled. Minky is also the only one of the three fabrics with a little stretch on the widthwise or cross grain.

The Back

One thing I think is always missing is a little info about what the reverse side of these fabrics look and feel like, which really is important for some projects.

Celosia Velvet is the most “upholstery” like with a plain woven back. Although Spoonflower’s site says it is a knit, it’s definitely not, as you can see the structure and it frays exactly as you’d expect a woven to do. It’s not exactly rough on the back, but it feels sturdy rather than soft.

Performance Velvet has a backing that feels and looks a lot like craft felt. It’s soft and has a slightly brushed look. The Performance Velvet is much creamier white on the back than it is on the front.

Minky has a smooth knit on the reverse.

What can you make with them?

I’ve used all three of these fabrics for different projects: Sara Coat (left), Filter Other Offset Jacket (middle), SeaSerpent Pillow (right). (you can click on any of those titles to read more and see larger photos)

Before Spoonflower had introduced either of the velvet options, I decided to try making a coat out of Minky. Because the Minky is so relatively light weight and stretchy, I actually backed all of the fabric with an inner lining of a lightweight twill before I sewed this coat so it looks much less drapey than it really is. That was a good choice for this project. It has a great texture, almost like a faux fur and the cuffs were made with velvet ribbon stitched in stripes. It was easy to sew, although I think my choice to line it also helped with that. If I were going to make a throw or a cuddly quilt, I would go for Minky with something else as a backing because it is so drapey; the others would make very stiff blankets.

The Filter Other Offset jacket is made from Celosia Velvet and I think the photo almost captures some of the sheen. Because velvet has a nap that wants to “push” the pieces out of alignment with each other as you sew, this took a lot of pinning and I really appreciated the walking foot on my sewing machine. I have also made a number of tote bags and other project bags from Celosia and everyone always comments on how nice it feels. I think Celosia makes a project look lush. I don’t think Celosia would be really great for clothing other than outerwear type uses. It really doesn’t have much drape so it’s good for structured or tailored shapes. I have also done a little upholstery with the Celosia Velvet.

The pillow was made from a sample fat quarter I ordered of the Performance Velvet. It’s a great pillow fabric! It was easier to sew than the Celosia (with much less slipping) and I really like the way it felt substantial and it went together so fast. I would really like to make a jacket from the Performance Velvet next. I think because it is a little softer/drapier than Celosia that it might make a great casual jacket or a winterweight skirt. I also think Performance Velvet would make great stuffed toys.

The fabric design featured in this post is called Wildflowers. It is made from a cut paper illustration made from handpainted paper and is available in my Spoonflower shop.

5 June, 2020

Fabric Review Friday: Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim

2020-06-05T14:37:01-05:00Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Fabric Review Friday: Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim

I skipped a week of fabric reviews due to the unsettled situation here in Minneapolis, but I am continuing my fabric review posts today talking about Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim. In this series of fabric review posts I am going to tell you everything I know about these fabrics from having worked with them and give you my best tips and tricks.

ABOUT DOGWOOD DENIM

Dogwood Denim is a heavyweight twill fabric. Twill is a kind of weave structure that has a somewhat prominent diagonal line because instead of the threads just going over one-under one, twill has threads that go over and under 2 or more threads. The threads are much thicker than the ones used to make Petal Cotton or Sateen, which I talked about in my last post. Unlike the jeans you might have in your closet, this denim has no spandex/lycra and no stretch. This is something to keep in mind when you are thinking about sewing clothing.

Dogwood Denim is 100% cotton and is a nice bright white. It is 11.7 oz per yard, which means that it’s almost 3 times as heavy as Petal Cotton and is the heaviest and probably the most durable fabric in the Spoonflower collection. It doesn’t tear easily and it is 100% opaque. It has a 56 inch printable width. The shrinkage is marked as 1-2% in width and 7-8% in length. That’s 2.5 inches over a yard of fabric (lengthwise) so I would really make sure I washed this before I made anything from it and keep that in mind if you are trying to economize on fabric and use every bit of the length. It also softens up a lot when you wash it; when you get the freshly printed fabric it is very stiff.

I just this afternoon finished this denim jacket made from one of my designs printed on Dogwood Denim. I made it at least a month ago, but waited until today to put in the buttonholes because I had a problem finding matching thread (due to the epidemic). This is unlined and because this fabric is so thick, I used some scraps of quilting cotton to do the inside facing on the cuffs and hem of the jacket to cut down on some bulk. Definitely use a heavier weight sewing needle in your machine when you are working with this fabric. It’s not hard to sew, but if you have 3-4 layers of fabric in a seam, it does get very thick. Although it is stiff and thick, the hand/surface is very soft as you would expect a denim to be. It doesn’t fray too badly while you are working with it, but it definitely frays when washed, so I made sure to serge all of the edges as I made this jacket. (Jacket pattern is Burda #7018.)

PRINT QUALITY AND APPEARANCE ON DOGWOOD DENIM

Because of the textured nature of the fabric, you will see that when you print your design. The colors on Dogwood Denim are vibrant and have nice saturation. Above is an example of the same design printed on both Dogwood Denim and Performance Pique. You can see the ridges in the denim may make the edges of shapes look a little less crisp and may obscure some subtle detail. That isn’t anything about the print quality, but the fact that the fabric has so much texture already.

This “Number 2 Pencils” design has very fine lines that still print pretty well. Note that this design has a spatter texture that does break up the lines slightly, but you can still see the detail.

WHAT IS THIS FABRIC GOOD FOR?

I’ve already made two denim jackets, so you can guess what my favorite project to make with this fabric is! I’ve also made a pencil skirt, using that pencil fabric. Pun absolutely intended. I think it would be great for pillows or a sturdy tote bag. I have also covered a kitchen chair seat with it. Like all digitally printed fabrics, because the ink is on the surface of the fabric, anything like upholstery that gets a lot of abrasion by contact will fade at the corners and edges as the surface of the fabric gets worn. On lighter colored prints you will notice this less.

22 May, 2020

Friday Fabric Review: Spoonflower Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin

2020-05-22T12:54:59-05:00Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Friday Fabric Review: Spoonflower Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin

I’m starting a new series talking about the different kinds of fabric bases you can print on at Spoonflower. I get an email from someone on a pretty regular basis asking for advice about different kinds of fabric and trying to decide what will work best for a project. I have worked with nearly every fabric base at Spoonflower for some project or another. I’ve printed my designs, sewed with them, washed them, and worn them. I wrote up a post about the Petal Signature Cotton and comparing it to the other cotton bases a while back. Starting with this post, on Fridays I am going to pick another fabric or two and tell you everything I know about them and tell you about what I like and don’t like about each one. I will also use Petal Cotton as a comparison for all of these since this is the lowest cost option and might be the one that more people have ordered a sample of.

I’m going to start today talking about Organic Cotton Sateen and Cotton Poplin.

About Sateen

I have definitely used the sateen for more projects than poplin and it is one of my favorite fabrics. This dress and coat (made for an exhibition in 2015) is made all with Sateen and the coat is lined with Satin. This is not a “coat weight” fabric by any means; I interlined this with a cotton twill to give it the body and weight for a coat. It is 3.8 oz per yard, which makes it slightly lighter weight than the Petal Cotton and it feels slightly thinner in your hand.

The Sateen has a very silky, smooth feel. It is a matte finish and is not shiny but it does have a little sheen. Instead of an “over-under-over-under” pattern that you think of when you think of a woven fabric, the way a sateen weave is made, it has very fine threads that “float” over several threads which gives it that smoothness.

The Sateen is a nice bright white, similar to the Petal Cotton. One of the parts I like best about it is that it has a 56″ printable width, which is much wider than your typical quilting cotton. That’s almost 30% more fabric in a yard than Petal Cotton, which has 42″ printable width. Spoonflower says that the shrinkage rate for Sateen is 3-4%. I did a test of some scraps and swatches a while back, where I measured before and after washing and I found the Spoonflower estimates to be really accurate. What does 3% shrinkage mean? That’s about 2 inches both directions on a yard of fabric. So that is definitely something to be aware of and a reason to always wash your fabric before you make something with it. (Moda Fabrics states that their fabrics are expected to shrink 3-5% when washed, so this is not just a Spoonflower thing.) The Sateen is also an organic cotton option.

Sateen frays somewhat easily and so I always serge or finish the edges when I am working on projects using it. It’s really easy to sew and I think it takes pressed creases and lines easily. I have made lots of dresses out of it and although they come out of the washer and dryer with a few wrinkles, they are easy to press or steam out. One time (and really only once) I had a little trouble with some color transfer of the pigment from sateen coming off onto my iron, so I am careful not to turn the heat up excessively high and it hasn’t been a problem. (This probably has nothing to do with it being the sateen, it’s just the fabric I have used the most.) A question that someone asked was “how does it tear vs cutting?” It tears somewhat easily, but it does distort the edge (because of the way the weave is constructed) so I would recommend cutting vs tearing.

About Poplin

Poplin is the lightest of the Spoonflower cotton fabrics. It’s marked as 3.3 oz per yard and it’s 42″ printable width. It feels much lighter or thinner in your hand than Petal Cotton. It is also very smooth because it is woven with fine threads. Here you can see it compared to Petal Cotton and it is easy to see the difference in the fineness of the weave. It’s not as fine as a lawn, but it is the closest you will find in the Spoonflower line-up.

Poplin has a slight creaminess to the color, it isn’t quite as bright a white as the Sateen or Petal cotton. It is slightly translucent, shown above with some Xs marked in sharpie on a card underneath. Because it is so finely woven it doesn’t fray as easily as Petal or Sateen and it tears very easily with the grain and does not distort. Shrinkage is marked as 5-6% in length and 3-4% in width. I haven’t made nearly as many projects with poplin as I have with many other fabrics. There’s no real reason for that other than it just hasn’t been the right fabric for the project I was doing. I did make several ties and bow ties with it and I did find it wrinkles fairly easily and can be difficult to get a really smooth pressed look. Lots of steam seemed to help. Also, because it is so tightly woven, I did want a smaller sewing machine needle than I typically use in my machine. I tend to sew a lot heavier weight fabrics and the larger needle used for that left a more obvious stitching line (bigger holes) and it just looked nicer with a finer needle.

Print Quality and Appearance on Sateen and Poplin

Of all of the cotton fabric options, Sateen and Poplin are probably going to be the best options for designs with really fine details. The fineness of the threads in both fabrics just makes the printing look a little crisper and sharper. This is probably the most noticeable in this example in places like the text. In the close up example below, you can see the same thing printed on Petal, Sateen and Poplin and there is some difference in the fuzziness or softness of the edges of the letters. It’s also really hard to capture in a photo, but when I look carefully in the areas of this sample that are photos (sunflower, beads) you can see a difference in the sharpness especially at the edges and shadows. If I were to pick a winner for the crispness and detail when printing a photo, I would go with the Poplin.

In this example of four colorways of the same design, you can see some of the crispness of the Sateen and Poplin compared to the Petal, but I can also see that the Sateen (far right) has a little contrast boost. I notice it most in the red/pink version where the lighter pink seems just a little brighter compared to the background. It’s subtle, but something I noticed.

What are these fabrics good for? That is a hard one to answer. Like I talked about with the coat I showed up above, I tend to figure out how to make a fabric work for me instead of worrying about what it is “supposed” to be good for. I think if I were making clothing, I would pick the Sateen over Poplin (or Petal) because I really like the feel of it. For wearables, the tendency to wrinkles would make me nuts with using Poplin because I don’t like to iron. (I don’t ever buy linen clothing; I just can’t stand how it always looks rumply.) If I were picking a fabric for something like an art quilt, especially one with photographic or really textured designs, I might pick Poplin just because of the detail in the print quality.

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