On-demand fabric printing

I am an architect and have been working with programs like Photoshop for years, but Spoonflower really opened up a new world for me: fabric design. It’s a service that let’s you upload an image to a web site and the company prints the design as a pattern on 100% cotton fabric. Their customer service is great, and I think the fabric is reasonably-priced: it costs $18/yard, not counting shipping, and an individual 8×8-inch swatch is $5. The site is still in beta, so I had to request an invite to use Spoonflower, but a week after contacting them I was experimenting with patterns and ordering fabric.

So far, I’ve placed three orders with three different designs (3×3 yards worth) at $ 66 per order, shipping included. The trickiest part was preparing the image file so the pattern matches up. I used the “define pattern” command in Photoshop to test my image files before I uploaded them. I defined the image size (150 dpi), set colors to LAB color space and saved the files in TIF format. After I uploaded them to the Spoonflower site, they were automatically tiled to fill the desired fabric size. Then I specified the shipping address, paid using my credit card and that’s it! The turnaround was reasonably quick: my fabric arrived in a month (I live in Switzerland). I made a skirt with the fabric from my first order — a present for my Mom (pic below).

A couple caveats: I have noticed some distortion after washing the fabric and there was a little color shifting from my original designs. Still, the color shifting and fabric distortion really are minor. Overall, I’m happy with the color accuracy and I’ve been very satisfied with my orders. I have been having a lot of fun with Spoonflower and will likely place my fourth order very soon. I am even considering setting up an Etsy shop to sell some of my fabrics.

Related items previously reviewed on Cool Tools:


World Textiles


Books on Demand


Brother Sewing Machine

-- Isabella Kuntz 08/29/08






(Check out this blogger's side-by-side close-ups of fabric printed from her artwork. One of her conclusions: "strong graphic lines turn out better than images with subtle shading." -- SL — editors)

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