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fabric ups and downs

We've been hoping my Spoonflower order would get here in time to have some Special Secret items on our table at Heroes Con -- and today the doorbell rang and there it was! We were all very excited:

spoonflower fabric

The fabric looked almost exactly like I expected -- slightly lighter, which is probably because I did it so quickly I didn't proof the files on another monitor; and the blacks are a little washed out. But the line weight was good, better than my proof on paper at home. And there is always, always color shifting when you print, especially in RGB. The fabric is a bit heavy -- good for a skirt or jumper, or crafts; definitely too stiff for anything like a blouse, it has very little drape. But all in all, I was very happy with the results:

spoonflower fabric

Then, I went to prewash the monster fabric that I intended to make something for Emily out of. It came out of the wash (warm/cool) looking great, no fade or color loss. Came out of the dryer (low heat), again, looked great. I ironed it, and measured it for shrinkage (it didn't shrink at all along the length, and shrunk to about 96% of the original width) -- no effect was visible on the print at all. But suddenly I realized that the print was slanting quite a bit -- and I was certain it had looked perfectly straight before. I tried to square the fabric (in other words, get the grainlines squared to each other, read more about this here), and then realized I couldn't, because it was squared. Thinking I was crazy, I got out a clear ruler -- and sure enough, the print is way off the grainline of the fabric (ignore the apparent curve of the ruler, it's because I used the macro setting):

spoonflower fabric

I checked the Milk & Cheese fabric, and sure enough, the fabric (this one is unwashed) is printed perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the fabric:

spoonflower fabric

Unfortunately, the grainline is not perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. You can see how much it slants compared to the print here.

spoonflower fabric

My guess is, the fabric as supplied to Spoonflower is already pulled way out of square -- they are printing on it perfectly straight, but once the fabric is washed and straightens itself up, the print is thrown way off. From the front, the grainline is not obvious and you can't really tell -- but if you wash it or attempt to square it up you can never go back. Essentially, this means the fabric is unwashable and not suitable for garments or anything that might need washing. Which was a major, major disappointment for me as the monster fabric was specifically meant for a dress for Emily. (I wouldn't have made it pink if I was going to try and sell things made of it!).

This would probably be fine for a very random print with no straight lines; and of course it is fine as long as you are making items that will never need to be washed. And the good news is, I didn't wash the Milk & Cheese print, so I can still use it (and look for a sneak preview in the next day or two of what I'm doing with that!). And I may be able to salvage the monster fabric -- I am going to try and steam some small blocks back into looking okay; and maybe I can figure out a way to use it as an accent (a ruffle or trim, maybe?) on an outfit when we get back. And fingers crossed this is a problem that can be worked out so I can make Emily her monster dress sometime in the future!!

What did you say?

Oh that BITES. Did you email them about it? Surely there is something they can do about that? I want to eventually get material for clothing too. I thought I read somewhere that they would be (at some point) expanding the kinds of cloth they offer..

Yes, I did -- and I'm sure this is an issue that's very fixable, if my guess is right the problem is just with the fabric they're printing on, not their process. I've love it if they were printing on something like the cotton Michael Miller uses, that is some nice stuff!!

Oh, no, what a shame! That totally stinks, considering how much you paid for that fabric. Ugh. Aren't they using Robert Kaufman material? I've used his stuff plenty and never had a problem. I do love Michael Miller's stuff, too.

Love your designs, btw. The monster fabric would've made an awesome dress. I'd totally make a quilt out of it.

Stephen from Spoonflower here: Sarah is right about what happened. Fabric skew is introduced sometimes during the process of rolling the fabric by the manufacturer. I wish I could tell you how often it will come up, but we've only been printing fabric for a few weeks. We are going to reprint the (lovely) monster fabric for Sarah post-haste. We're bummed!

oh that's a real shame, but encouraging that spoonflower are on the case to resolve the problem. fantastic prints :)

That's such a fantastic design, and your little girl is so cute! I just joined Spoonflower and I think I am paralysed by the possibilities. I'm really glad to hear they have good customer service and care about their product!

Wow - the designs are really great, and I love the colours! You must have been so disappointed with the grainline issue... Still it's great that they are right on solving the problem! I'm impressed that you can even design such a print - I would never be able to do that. Gorgeous picture of your daughter, by the way! ;)

thanks everyone!! And Emily is even happier now that we have newly printed, much straighter fabric in the house and a monster dress may be happening soon!

And yeah, Spoonflower has been great about resolving the issue and I would totally recommend trying them out to anyone who's thinking about it. I have more sketches waiting to be worked into new prints once we're caught up on things here and I can't wait!

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