“The Ability to Design Your Own Fabric Might Change The Way You Approach Your Creative Projects!”
Together with designer and illustrator Anda Corrie, Spoonflower just published their second book — this time with 30+ new DIY ideas you can make with as little as a swatch of fabric.
Spoonflower is the first, and biggest internet-based service for custom and on-demand fabric printing, a marketplace for designers and inspiration to thousands of makers since 2008.
Based with offices in Durham, North Carolina, and Berlin, Germany, Spoonflower offers its customers to design their own fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap. A special digital print technology allows printing even small amounts of fabric on demand for the over 3.5 million fans of the marketplace.
Anda Corrie has been a contributor to the Spoonflower platform since the beginning, and with the book Spoonflower Quick-Sew Project Book the designer and illustrator shows step-by-step tutorials and projects that span a wide spectrum of skills. The book is perfect for both new and experienced makers.
“ People these days are looking for unique ways to express their creativity, and these DIYs make it easy to do just that!” says Sarah Ward from Spoonflower as we sit down with her and Anda to talk about the making of the book and the development of fabric printing.
The book is a great combination of showing handmade crafts and DIYs that are made with digitally printed fabric and digital created patterns and designs. It feels like, this is really hitting a nerve of our time. Do you agree?
Corrie: I think surface design is really popular right now in the handmade & illustration communities, and Spoonflower is a great point of entry if you want to try it out. From a design standpoint, with digital fabric printing, you’re able to have very precise creative control on the output. For instance, you’re planning a larger project like a beanbag chair or couch cushions, digital printing lets you get the exact color or motif you want much more easily.
Ward: This book is designed to appeal to both those who just want to tackle their current fabric stash and those who want to make their own designs to outfit their home with one-of-a-kind creations. Each DIY is endlessly customizable so you can make something that’s entirely reflective of your style. Some projects even encourage you to design your own print, and we help walk you through how to do that. People these days are looking for unique ways to express their creativity, and these DIYs make it easy to do just that!
This is not the first Spoonflower Book — what inspired this current edition?
Ward: A few years ago we came out with The Spoonflower Handbook, written by co-founder Stephen Fraser, Judi Ketteler and Becka Rahn, which showcased how to use our platform to create your own textiles and papers. In that book, we shared design-focused projects from how to make a pillow featuring your pet’s photo to creating a handmade recipe tea towel — one of our most popular projects of all time. The content offers a great starting place for those wanting to get their feet wet with designing fabric. As we began dreaming up our next book, we asked ourselves: What would fabric enthusiasts need as a helpful resource? We realized that every sewing fan has a stash of fabric just waiting for the perfect project. We decided that this book would focus on providing inspiration for fabrics you might already have at home — or the ones you have your eye on, but haven’t quite found a reason yet to add to your collection.
How long was the process of creating the book, including gathering the DIY ideas?
Corrie: I started the project in the summer of 2017, and spent about a month sketching ideas and testing projects at home. Through a twist of scheduling fate, the bulk of the book had to be written and edited exactly while I was on summer holiday with my family in late July. It was kind of insane — I would sit on the beach with an iPad, mentally measuring, cutting and sewing, looking up sewing terms, ignoring my kids. During that time I also worked with the Spoonflower team to choose fabric for each tutorial. Selecting fabric for 30+ projects was intense — there is literally too much nice fabric on the marketplace. When I got back to Berlin I had about three more weeks to sew everything and fix all the errors I had made while trying to write tutorials without actual tools. We did a photo shoot with the amazing Zoë Noble in October and then the book got sent off to be designed and tweaked and designed some more. It was finished around February this year.
How has the demand for digitally printed fabric evolved since Spoonflower started? What’s next for the company?
Ward: It’s hard to believe now, but most people never considered the possibility of designing and printing their own fabric 10 years ago. At that time, not only was printing a custom design expensive, but many surface pattern designers didn’t have a low-investment platform to distribute their art to shoppers. While many of our early shoppers wanted to print their own designs for personal use or resale, we really found a niche with independent designers that found Spoonflower to be a rewarding place to showcase their art and earn money. Fast forward to today, and we are now the world’s largest Marketplace of unique designs you can’t find anywhere else.
While custom-printed fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap have been the core of our business, we are expanding our offerings to focus even more on home textiles — such as a pillows, throw blankets and curtains — that are made for the customer who wants a specific design, but doesn’t want to sew the product themselves.
Corrie: I can remember first hearing about Spoonflower in 2008 from an Etsy coworker and was basically reeling from the possibilities. As Sarah mentioned, it wasn’t really possible to make your own fabric than in an affordable way.
The ability to design my own fabric created a major shift in the way I approached projects and continues to inspire me ten years later.
Who is the target group for Spoonflower — do you think you will reach a different audience with this book?
Ward: Spoonflower appeals to a broad audience of makers, small business owners, quilters, interior designers and more: it’s the starting place for designs you can’t find anywhere else. What’s great about this book is that it offers projects to help you use fabrics that you already have in your stash — whether you’ve stocked up at Spoonflower or not. Since we’re a print-on-demand company, it’s in our very DNA to avoid wasteful textile practices, so this book reflects our innate desire to find ways to use up every bit of fabric you may already have waiting on a shelf or in a closet. We’re inviting others to find joy in what they already have — or the possibilities of what could be.
We live in a very digital world, where work, social life, and inspirations come from a screen, and still, people have the need to create and make things. Why do you think they wish to make and create won’t disappear?
Corrie: After spending the day in front of a computer for work, the last thing I want to do in my free time is staring at another screen. Sewing, crafting, crocheting, drawing with my kids is definitely crucial to my mental health. My art studio (Studio Like a Dream) doesn’t have WiFi and it is a blissfully analog space. And 90% of the time I’m crafting anything it’s for a gift — so as long as my friends keep having birthdays and getting babies I will probably still be making stuff. You cannot give a new baby a well-curated Pinterest board.
Ward: There are over 2 billion results returned in search engines when you look up “DIY.” Whether it’s a creative outlet for those at a desk job, a side hustle for an up-and-coming visionary, or a profitable small business for makers, the do-it-yourself movement is ever more appealing in part because of the rise of sites such as Pinterest, YouTube and Etsy that help instruct and showcase the art of making. As the digital world continues to drive commerce and connections, it only opens up the possibilities for those who want to create to sell or showcase their craft.
This kind of leads to the question: ‘Analog’ has made a comeback, whether in the form of vinyl records or specialty printing. Why do you think high-quality analog products have grown in popularity again?
Corrie: I sort of disagree that analog has made a comeback per se. Analog hasn’t gone away — we just have a category of non-analog things (digital) that exist in contrast to it. What we’re really noticing when someone does something in an analog way is that they are embracing a technology that is older than the current one. No matter what the form is, you’re always going to have some people that prefer the old way and some that like the new way and everything in between.
What inspires you, or gets your mind and creativity flowing?
Corrie: Inspiration comes from just looking around and paying attention. It’s not so much certain things that I go to for inspiration but rather a general mood to be in. And when I’m in this mood everything is inspiring, everything is interesting, all things big and small potentially contain an idea. Sort of like looking at clouds for shapes. (And then when I need a visual and emotional break I stop paying attention entirely and walk into traffic and stuff.) And of course like most people I also look at weird stuff on the internet or spend too much time reading Wikipedia pages on things like Tibetan tiger rugs or flip through old children’s books or wander through the flea market thinking “Hm, could I make this? What if I made it like this instead?”