Fabric Design for Back to School: Pop Art Shoe Bag Tutorial

When you live in Minnesota, “Back-to-School Season” is quickly followed by “Snowboots Season”. When I asked my sister what she thought would be a great back-to-school project to share with the Spoonflower Back to School Blog Hop, she described a “stuff sack” type bag to put the kids’ shoes in their backpacks when they have to wear their snowboots to school. Something to keep the papers from getting dirty and books from getting crumpled by dirty sneakers. With each kid needing regular shoes, gym shoes and snowboots, there are a lot of shoes getting hauled back and forth on the bus every day.

Creating the fabric design.

Color & scan.

My niece and nephew are 7 & almost 9 years old and I thought the bags would be the most fun (and more likely to get used) if I could get the kids to help me with the fabric design. What better for a shoe bag than a fabric print with shoes?

So I drew a coloring book page with a canvas sneaker. I drew it in fine tip sharpie, scanned it and emailed it to my sister. She printed copies and let the kids color the shoes any way they liked. They chose colored pencils for these, but this would also work with markers, crayons, or watercolor.

Download: If you want to make your own shoe print, you can download my shoe coloring book page here. It is yours to use any way you like.

I love to add texture and dimension to my designs so when I got the colored shoes back from the […]

Tutorial: Color schemes from photos & using Creative Cloud Libraries

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.10.31 AMI write a newsletter for the MN chapter of the Surface Design Association and each month I include a color scheme for inspiration. I know color is a hard thing for a lot of people. I work very intuitively with color and I personally don’t put a lot of thought into color theory or color wheels; I just go with what feels right to me. But not everyone can work that way. So I like to provide a little jumping off point by pulling a set of colors from a photograph to use as color inspiration. Maybe you can use it as a jumping off point for a new design. Maybe it makes you look deeper at a photo to see the way colors work together. Maybe it makes you think about how there are unexpected colors in shadows. I think there is something for anyone to relate to.

As a dyer or surface designer that works with paints, dyes or pigments you can look at the palette and mix up your colors to work from there. As a digital designer, I can import these colors directly in to my graphics program. It doesn’t really matter if I am working with the exact colors from the photo for a single design, but where that is handy is when I want to make a set of coordinating designs where matching colors is important.

I start by pulling colors from the photo using a program called Adobe Color, which is also part of the Adobe Capture app, so you can use it in your web browser (Color) or on your phone/tablet (Capture).


2016-05-31T11:30:43-05:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|Comments Off on Tutorial: Color schemes from photos & using Creative Cloud Libraries

30 Second Photoshop Tutorial: Copy with Move + Option Key

miniOptionIt takes some time to put together a really good tutorial for a project or design, but there are some great techniques that only take a few seconds to explain.  This is one I use all the time to copy objects in Photoshop.

Select an object, like this little flower.

Choose the Move tool.

Hold down the option key as you click and drag that object.

Viola!  You now have a copy of that shape.  Copies made this way will be in the same layer as the original; if you use copy/paste commands, Photoshop will create a new layer for each copy you paste in.

Today I was working on a “dogs chasing squirrels” damask and I decided I wanted a few more flowers in the grass, so I used this technique to copy them.  While each was selected, I also rotated and resized a little bit to add some variety, so they would look less like copies.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 4.46.00 PM


2016-01-18T16:48:09-05:00Everything Else, Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|Comments Off on 30 Second Photoshop Tutorial: Copy with Move + Option Key

Design-your-own-Fabric Tutorial: Making Wings


For Halloween, my niece wanted to be a butterfly fairy.  Her talented mama made the fancy princess dress, but I was asked to help with the fairy wings.  We thought it would be the most fun if the wings were not stiff wire edged things, but more like a flowy cape, so you can pretend to fly, which is absolutely necessary when you are 5 years old.  So I designed some wings and had them printed at on fabric at Spoonflower.

Here’s how you can make your own.

I started with a photograph of a butterfly.  For the wings above, I used a monarch because that matched the colors of her costume, but I did some screenshots for you using another butterfly that we photographed at the zoo, so you can see some other variations.  It helps to have a butterfly shape that goes pretty straight across at the top (not a strong V shape), but you can adjust that a little in a later step.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.33.27 AM

First, I opened the photo in Photoshop and made a new layer, so the butterfly photo is on one layer and there is a blank background layer. I selected the butterfly using the Quick Select and Lasso tools, inverted the selection (so now the background is selected instead of the butterfly) and deleted the background. I selected the butterfly and straightened it out a little (using the Transform tool).  You can see that my butterfly is a little lop-sided here right to left, which is perfectly fine for a butterfly, but makes it harder to make a 2 sided […]

Design Tutorial: Creating a layered design

Often when I teach an intro fabric design class, the students and I create a collaborative fabric design during class, which I have printed and mail to them after class.  This most recent class played along with me and made this design using speech bubble shaped post-it-notes and wrote their favorite “clean” swear word.  I thought it would make a funny fabric, especially given the day I had before I got to class.  So I scanned our design and got ready to put it into a repeat and it just seemed sort of blah.  We needed a much more colorful fabric to match our colorful language.  So I added some color and after I sent the swatches, I told my class I would post a tutorial about how I did it so they could check back.  My screenshots for this are in Photoshop, but many other design programs have the same tools you can use.

We started with a scanned image of post-it-notes on black paper.  I scanned this at 150 dpi because I wanted to print it at the same size and that is the resolution I need for fabric.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.47.06 AMThe first thing I wanted to do was to move the speech bubbles to a layer all by themselves.  This way I could insert something into the background and have them float over top.  When I open the image in Photoshop, it automatically makes it a locked background layer. (See the lock icon?)  When I go to the Layers palette and double click the layer that says Background, it will unlock it and convert it to a regular layer (Layer 0), which is […]

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