This post is a tale of sorts, of two whimsical designs that began as hand drawings and were transformed into fabric. An appropriate title could have been: From Pen and Ink Hand Drawings to Seamless Patterns to Printed Fabric to Sewing Creations. But that is a lot of words. Hence: A Fabric Design Tale 🙂
If you read my previous post then you already know that for Christmas 2016 I made my youngest niece and nephew each a raglan tee using my fabric designs. Both began as hand drawings and so I thought it would be fun to share the process (since it was different for both) in how I transformed those into the fabric and ultimately a finished sewing project.
For my nephew I chose my Fantasy Fish pattern. I originally created this design for the Great Barrier Reef themed contest on Spoonflower. This was still in the beginning stages of my learning Adobe Illustrator and creating patterns. For this pattern I wanted to have all the elements inter-connected and I wasn’t yet sure how to do that in AI, so I stuck with Photoshop to create the entire pattern. To do this I began by drawing a base design by hand, scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then using the offset function split the design apart. I then printed the split apart design and drew in more elements to start to fill the space. I had to do this several times before I had the entire piece filled in and the full pattern tile created. Below you can see some of the stages of the pattern.
I chose to have the design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey since I would be pairing it with Cotton Spandex Solids purchased elsewhere and I wanted the fabric types to be as close as possible.
I love how it looks printed out!
Butterfly Party (Midnight)
For my niece, I chose the Butterfly Party design, Midnight color version from my Flutter Collection. I created this design from a doodle I drew in one of my doodle sketchbooks long before I ever started created surface patterns.
Since I never intended this drawing to be a seamless pattern when I created it, I decided to use the elements as components in a new design instead of converting the original composition to be seamless. For this design, I used the auto-trace function in Adobe Illustrator to render the elements as vector. From there I did A LOT of clean-up, modifications and redrawing. In fact sometimes I do so much editing of a traced design that I wonder if it wouldn’t be faster to just redraw all the elements manually. I do like, however, how auto trace gives a bit more of the hand-drawn feeling and for this print I think it really works. While I love the black infill with the butterfly silhouettes and polka-dots on the original doodle, I thought it was too busy for the pattern version so I decided to eliminate it. Instead I used some of the little butterflies to create a coordinating pattern.
You can find these little butterflies and many other coordinating prints in the Flutter Collection on Spoonflower. And here is a look of the fabric (also printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey):
I used the same pattern for both tees, the Raglan Sweatshirt 015 from Brindle and Twig. Since the kids are so close in age, I was able to use the same size for both of them! For each shirt I was able to fit the body pieces on one fat quarter of the Spoonflower fabric and used solid fabric leftover from other projects for all the rest of the pieces. (Huge perk of sewing for littles!!!) I chose black for the fishes since there is already black in the design and I love how it makes the colors really pop. For the butterflies I used this aqua I had in my stash that I was happy to see matched so well! I was a bit concerned about the arms being lighter than the body (I guess when I think of raglans I usually think the darker color as the arms and bands) but I think it adds a lovely brightness!
For the most part I thought this was a good pattern. I was surprised at the size of all the bands, which seemed a little small in diameter to me. I change almost all of them to be a little bit bigger after I sewed the first one (I THINK the neckband on the butterfly shirt is the only place where the band is cut to the pattern size). I would definitely keep this change in the future. It made it easier to sew and was still not too big. I made the butterfly raglan first so the tweaks on the fish one reflect what I learned from the first. My only other complaint is with the pdf assembly. I found that the aligning box on the pdfs to be a bit confusing. Perhaps it would not be to someone else, but I thought I would mention it. I will say that Melissa from Brindle and Twig was very kind and receptive to my feedback when I emailed her, which is huge bonus points in her favor!!! Customer service and communication goes a long way in my book. I also like the very large size range that comes with the pattern. I could make these for several more years before the kids will be too big for the pattern.
So there you have it! A look at the progression of a design from the very beginings to a final finished project! I’ll end with a couple of detail close-ups.
And as always,
Thanks for Reading!