7 June, 2019

Fabric Review Part 2: Spoonflower’s Petal Cotton vs Sateen

2020-05-22T12:55:40-05:00Everything Else, Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|4 Comments

After I posted my initial comparison with Petal Cotton, Basic Cotton and Kona Cotton from Spoonflower, I had several people ask me about Cotton Sateen. Sateen is my favorite of the lightweight cotton fabrics and has been for a long time. Sateen has a different kind of weave structure. Instead of the warp and the weft threads being evenly distributed, a sateen weave lets the warp threads “float” across the surface of the fabric. I’ve always found Spoonflower’s sateen to be the best for printing fine details; designs always print very crisply. (It’s also 56″ inches wide, which means you get a lot more fabric when you order a yard of sateen.)

Holding the Sateen and the Petal cotton swatches in my hand, the Petal feels a little heavier/thicker, but when I weigh them on my postal scale, they show the same weight, so the difference is subtle.

As far as printing, Sateen still is the best for crisp sharp details. Petal is great (and a big step up), but Sateen is just a little sharper yet. On this design you can see it best in the grey-on-grey sections. The edges of the shapes are just a little more precise and sharp. The colors/saturation between the Petal Cotton and Sateen are very very similar. I can see a little difference in contrast. In this design, the greys have a little more contrast on the sateen – the darker shade is darker on the Sateen vs Petal and the yellows are a tiny bit brighter.

Overall, I think the Sateen and Petal are very similar print wise; the biggest difference is the fabric itself. I have used the Sateen to make a number of dresses and I think it is lovely to sew with. It presses nicely and it has a nice drape. I have ordered some Petal to make a couple of summer tank tops and I am curious to see if the thicker-feeling fabric feels too bulky as a clothing fabric.

14 May, 2019

Fabric Review: First Impressions of Spoonflower’s new Petal Cotton

2020-05-22T12:55:51-05:00Everything Else, Fabric Reviews, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|9 Comments

This week Spoonflower replaced two of its standard fabrics, the Basic Cotton and Kona Cotton, with a brand new Petal Signature Cotton fabric. I am a Pro member of Spoonflower so I got a sample swatch a week or two ago and I wanted to write up some of my first impressions of the new fabric.

First, I want to talk a little about the retired fabrics. I hardly ever use Kona Cotton. It’s really a quilting fabric and I am not a quilter so I don’t have a lot of reasons to use it. I always thought it was a nice quality fabric, but I don’t have a lot more to say about it since I use it so rarely.

I have always felt that the Basic Cotton was exactly that: basic. I consider it to be something like dressmakers muslin; great for testing things but nothing special. It was relatively light weight and I always felt like the print quality was a little lackluster. The colors seemed a bit dull. All in all it was an absolutely fine craft fabric but I never felt like it was something I wanted to make a finished project out of. (Sateen was my go-to favorite cotton for that.) I have ordered a lot of Basic Cotton to test colors and print scale so I have a lot more experience with it than the Kona.

When I ordered my test swatch of Petal Cotton, I chose the same design I had just printed a few weeks before on the Basic Cotton. This Rainy Drizzle design was a design challenge entry of mine from the April Showers theme.

First Impressions

When I first pulled the swatch of Petal Cotton out of the mailing envelope, my first impression was how nice it felt. It has a very smooth texture and had a nice weight in my hand. According to Spoonflower, the new Petal is 4.3 oz per yard, where the Basic was 3.2 oz per yard. You can feel the difference. I even put the two swatches on my postal scale and it could measure a difference in the weight of the swatches. The new fabric doesn’t seem thick or heavy, but you can definitely feel a different density or something like that.

The next thing I noticed was that the new fabric is a brighter crisper white. Basic cotton never seemed not-white-enough for me, but you can see how much brighter the Petal is when they are side by side.

I think this fabric brightness effects the colors when you see the printing as well.

The color graininess that you can see in the yellow on the basic cotton isn’t something about the photo, it’s there on the fabric. The printing not only seems crisper and sharper on the new Petal cotton, but the colors have a little boost in vibrancy. I think you notice the sharpness especially on this design when you look at the U shaped hook of the umbrella handle above. Soft fuzzy edges on the Basic are much cleaner on the Petal cotton.

Next, I wanted to see how transparent the light colored sections of the fabric were, so I drew a bunch of Xs with a Sharpie on a piece of printer paper and slid it underneath the edges of the swatch. Both are slightly transparent, but the Petal (on the right) is possibly less so.

After Washing

I took both of these swatches and put them into the washing machine with a load of jeans. I figured that if anything would give them a real test of colorfastness, it would be tumbling around with jeans. I washed them in a regular cycle and put them into the dryer on hot. No special treatment. I didn’t iron them when I took them out of the dryer so you can see how wrinkly it is fresh out of the dryer. Neither one wrinkles significantly, which is nice.

I cut the edges with pinking shears before they went into the washer and I think the Petal Cotton frayed just slightly more than the Basic at those cut edges.

I don’t see any significant difference with the colors or saturation before and after washing. (There is a slight variation in the before & after photos above but that is due to the fact that I was using natural light and took the photos 2 hours apart.) Nothing looks to have faded and I don’t see any issues with patchiness or color abrading where the fabric got folded or anything like that.

The hand of the fabric is different for sure. Before washing, both fabrics were very stiff. After washing, the Basic cotton has less body than the Petal Cotton. It feels thinner and less substantial. Spoonflower says that both fabrics shrink about 3-5% when washed. I measured the swatches before and after washing and couldn’t see any shrinkage. I suspect you might notice that more on a larger piece of fabric.


I think the Petal Cotton is a fantastic upgrade. As a designer, I know that a LOT of my customers buy swatches and Fat Qs of Basic Cotton and I am excited for them to get the Petal Cotton instead. I think this design in particular looks significantly better and I have to assume that others will as well. The Petal Cotton is the same price as the Basic and the same width. I like that this design at least prints more vibrantly and with more sharpness. I was initially a little disappointed with the mustard color in this design because it looked muddy on my swatch and I was intending to tweak it. But I don’t think I need to do that anymore. That’s great! (If you want to try it out, Spoonflower has Petal Signature cotton on sale for 10% off this week through May 19.)

What else do you want to know about the Petal Cotton? What are your questions? Have you tried it out yet?

Edited to add

With all of the comments about the weave structure in Kona vs Petal, I was really curious and pulled out a swatch of Kona to compare. This photo is unwashed Kona, sitting on top of a piece of unwashed Petal. The two are virtually identical as far as the thread spacing and thickness of the threads. When I zoomed in (using Photoshop), I could count 16 threads per inch (horizontal) in both fabrics.

And here are petal, basic, kona and sateen all together.

6 February, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Rockabilly

2019-02-06T15:21:42-06:002019DesignChallenges, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Spoonflower Design Challenge: Rockabilly

This design challenge theme was the cause of a big discussion among my family about what “rockabilly” really was and how you could represent it. Spoonflower’s design spec said “Originally from the 1950s, the iconic genre has a strong following that has withstood the test of time. As you create your entry this week, channel the rockabilly style with themes centered around vintage tattoos, pin-up girls, polka dots and even skulls.” My parents (who remember the original rockabilly trend) said they thought of it more as Elvis and ice cream sodas. We had a good time going through the contest entries and seeing how everyone interpreted the design. (Lots of cherries. Lots of skulls.)

My dad is a collector of vintage guitars, so I decided that rockabilly era guitars were my inspiration. I modeled mine after a Gretsch guitar from the 50s. I started drawing them in shades of grey just to work out the design and get the repeat set, intended to add some color. But the more I looked at the shades of grey, the more I liked it. One of the motifs that popped up when I googled “rockabilly style” was dice, which I didn’t really love, so went with card suits, which I felt like had the same vibe and I loved the tiny pops of red that it added to the design. This was all vector Illustrations in Adobe Illustrator.

The 33 you see on the swatch of the design above is the place I finished in the design contest. 33 of 325, which is my third highest finish ever in a contest (I have ranked #11 and #22.) THANK YOU if you voted for my design. You can find it here on Spoonflower.

22 January, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Moon Landing

2019-01-22T10:47:52-06:002019DesignChallenges|1 Comment

The design challenge theme this week was “Moon Landing”, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. It was a partnership with Princess Awesome, a company that designs science and technology themed clothes for girls. Many designers went with “girls in space” interpretations of the theme, but I wanted to celebrate the event itself.

I did some photo gathering online and looked at the way I would have experienced the moon landing: watching it on TV. I found lots of pictures of people gathered around television sets. I drew a collection of slightly wonky retro televisions from elements I saw in the photos and made illustrations of some of the iconic images from the broadcast with astronauts on the bright surface and deep shadows. On a few tv screens I put the captions that were on the broadcast. (This photo is from a friend of my mom’s who took a photo of his tv screen while he was watching.)

I wanted my televisions to be black-and-white, so I added a vibrant blue background to the design and then some transparent pops of color on top.

It was fun to work on and especially fun to do the photo research. You can see more moon landing designs at the contest page.

18 January, 2019

Office Hours Video: Designing fabric with Amaziograph and Spoonflower

2019-01-18T14:10:18-06:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Office Hours Video: Designing fabric with Amaziograph and Spoonflower

Welcome to my first Office Hours video. I am starting a series of quick video lessons about fun things you can try while designing fabrics. Many of the topics are going to based on questions that I have gotten from students, friends and fans. So if you have something you’d love to know – just ask!

This first video isn’t quite perfect, as is always the case with technology, right?! FB dropped the video after a couple of minutes, so I started up again and have stitched those two videos together. Even though it didn’t show it to me on the screens I was watching, it also squished the ipad screen a couple of times. I decided that it wasn’t ideal, but you could still definitely follow what was happening. Hoping to fix that for the next time.

If you’d like to learn more, here are links to Amaziograph, PicMonkey and EscherSketch, which I mention in the video.

14 January, 2019

Spoonflower Design Challenge: Animal Print

2019-01-14T10:29:08-06:002019DesignChallenges, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Spoonflower Design Challenge: Animal Print

Animal prints are not my cup of tea, but I get why they are appealing; I do love bold graphic patterns. Instead of going with a leopard or zebra print for my design challenge entry, I wanted to pick something that was a little less obvious. So I decided to go with ducks. Female mallards are pretty well camouflaged with their brown feathers, except for the bright blue, black and white bars on their wings. You almost don’t see them at all when they are sitting quietly, but as soon as they take off there is a flash of that blue. (Thanks to my mom for the mallard photo above.)

I drew a vector illustration for this design, layering the feathers so I could make a repeating pattern. I felt like the design was a little flat. I often feel this way about vector designs, I often feel like they need a little more texture. So I layered it first with a watercolor pattern to give it some light/dark/grunge. Then I added a chevron stripe to mimic the “grain” of feathers.

The overall pattern makes a stripe which I think would be fun for couch pillows or tote bags.

You can check out more animal prints at the design challenge page.

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