Category Archives: Tutorials

Video Tutorial: Combining photos to print at Spoonflower

I’ve had several students ask me this week: “How can I combine a bunch of different things together and print them all on a yard of fabric at Spoonflower? Do I use Fill-A-Yard?”

I wanted to help by walking you through how to combine photos or art from a group of friends into one fat quarter or yard of fabric, so you can print many things all at once. This is a very fast and informal overview about how you do it in Photoshop (starring some barking dogs in the background). I am a big fan of “Done is Better than Perfect” and I wanted to get this posted and not worry about it being polished. So think of it like a live video chat where I am just talking you through the process. (It’s about 25 minutes long, so you know that going in. You can pause and come back if you need to.) Click the arrows icon (next to the Vimeo logo) to see it bigger so you can read the menus on my screen.

You will see:

  • creating a canvas that is exactly the size of a fat quarter or yard
  • adding photos or art to the canvas using “place embedded”
  • using save as and uploading to Spoonflower
  • uploading a revision
  • when you need to rotate your canvas so it prints correctly and the easy way to do that
  • how to resize a photo you have placed and what to do if it looks blurry or pixellated

Here’s a link to the tea towel I used as an example if you would like to see it up close.

Video Tutorial: Fill-A-Yard Projects with Spoonflower

A quick video tutorial of how to use Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard feature. Thanks to a student from my online class for the question.

If you need a little more help working with collections, be sure to check out my online classes. I go through collections in the Spoonflower Step One class.

Making Paper Mosaics: A video demo

At my last fabric design class, I chatted with my students about how I make paper mosaic designs. I like to design fabrics using original art like paper collage or drawings or paintings. They were very curious to see the originals that my fabrics had started out as, so I thought it would be fun to make a video demo to show the process from paper to fabric.

 

Here are a few other mosaic designs I have done. All are made from recycled magazines or other patterned papers.

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Exploring the Black, a dye reference e-book

I was invited to present a talk about dyeing with black to a weaving study group this weekend. They knew that black was a challenging color and wondered if I could provide some tips and tricks for working with black dyes. I usually skip over black in my beginning dye classes because it is challenging and I think it is confusing for beginners when one color breaks all the rules.

So I spent a couple of days dyeing and photographing samples. I worked with 3 dyes (2 for plant fibers and 1 for animal fibers) and 27 different substrates (fabric, roving, ribbon, yarn). I asked friends of mine, who have years of dyeing experience, for their tips for working with black and I incorporated those into my samples. When I got done, I realized that I had way more information than would reasonably fit in a class handout, so I put it all together into a 28-page e-book. It’s not an instruction book about how to dye, but it is a reference manual for how black dyes are influenced by fiber choice, temperature, salt and more. You can get it at my Etsy shop and see sample pages and more info there.

Tutorial: Make a valentine cut-out design

Since Valentines Day is just around the corner, I thought I would post a quick tutorial for making a heart shaped cut out design. You can use any image or pattern and “cut it out” to make it into a heart shape. (Or any other shape you want to use. The steps are the same.)

Make a heart

The first thing is to create your heart. I want a nice smooth shape that is basic black and white. You could use some clip art, but I really prefer to make my own “clip art”. (pun intended) With my own art, I never have to worry about using a copyrighted image or inadvertently stealing someone else’s design. I could draw something in Illustrator or use the vector tools in Photoshop, but I think it is so much easier to just start with a piece of paper. Seriously.

Why? I like the quality of the shape. Vector designs often look too perfect to me. It is really fast and easy to use the circle tool and the pen tool to create something that is symmetrical and has perfectly smooth lines, but I think that’s boring. It is also fast and easy to use scissors and a piece of dark colored paper to cut out a shape, and get all kinds of imperfections: little wobbles of the scissors, curves that are more irregular and so on. It looks less computer generated to me and I like that.

So I sketched a heart with an arrow design on a piece of black paper and cut it out. I used a paper punch to make the little dots. Then, I scanned it. I adjusted the scanner so it was scanning it black and white and I bumped up the contrast. The scanner DPI settings aren’t very important here, so I chose 150 dpi because that should be plenty of pixels to work with.

If you have Photoshop, you can use that do do this next step, but it is also really easy to do in PicMonkey and that’s what I will show you in this tutorial.

Use PicMonkey

Go to picmonkey.com and choose Design (t icon) from the menu at the top. Then create a custom canvas. I am going to make mine 600×600 pixels. That’s a great size for a blog post or email and by making it square, it will look great in my Instagram feed.

Go to the Overlays menu (butterfly icon at left) and choose Add your Own at the top of that column. Then find your scanned heart design.

Next choose the photo or image that you want to “cut out” with this heart. I will use a picture of my dogs as my example. Choose Add Your Own in Overlays again and find that image.

To make it “cut out” you just need to select a different blend mode for this new overlay layer. Look in the Overlay pop up palette that should have popped up somewhere in your editor. (It’s on the right side in my screen shot) Under the Blend Mode dropdown, choose Add.

I can adjust the size of the overlay by using the bubble toggles at the corners or rotating with the handle at the top until I have the image and the heart cutout aligned the way I like it.

You can also use another repeating design instead of a photo; in fact any .jpg image will work. How about a sushi valentine? For this one, I just took a screen shot of this sushi stripe design that I created and used it to make an overlay.

And here I took the same idea with a different design and then uploaded it to Spoonflower to make a repeating pattern for a fabric design. This one would be cute as wrapping paper!

If you want to learn more techniques like this for designing your own patterns and fabrics, be sure to check out my online classes. There is even a free one to get you started and it builds on some of the ideas in this tutorial. Or check out my events calendar for in-person classes.

New Online classes are now LIVE!

Visit my brand new Online Classes page to learn more and sign up. Take the intro class for free and then dig in to designing all kinds of projects that don’t need a repeat. I am so excited to have these new classes to share with all of you. There are two classes that are live now and much more to come.

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