It is certainly possible to print onto fabric at home (See Bits and Pieces for an example) but it is not something that I would encourage anyone to do, unless they have a printer that can cope with fabric.
The printers that I buy are designed to print letters and invoices etc, and they tend to jam if I ask them to print on anything much thicker than thin card.
This being so, I only attempt to print onto fabric when I know that my printer is about to expire and I am going to need a new one soon anyway.
There are other reasons for getting fabrics commercially printed. Here are some random examples –
- Cost – believe it or not, given the price of ink, it is actually cheaper for me to go to a proper print shop and get my printing done there – and not have the bother of maintaining a very expensive piece of machinery.
- Dust – fibres from fabric will inevitably get into the mechanism of the printer – even though I am scrupulous about No Loose Threads.
- Size / quality of print
- Guaranteed colour-fastness of a fabric print (Some people recommend using Bubble Jest Set – I haven’t tried this (yet) as I find that simply boiling cotton fabric works sufficiently well for me.)
However, generally speaking, I would say that getting a fabric commercially printed is a costly and time-consuming business – and very often you are expected to buy yards and yards of the finished product too.
Given all this, I have been eyeing up Spoonflower (rather skeptically) for a while and wondering if I could justify the time involved in preparing some files to their specifications.
In the end I had an “If Not Now When?” moment and uploaded a large design which I had ready. (This had not been tweaked to fit any of Spoonflower’s recommendations – which was very unfair of me.)
And the result was ?
- I uploaded the design on a Friday and paid for a proof to be sent to me. ($6 in total for one sample)
- My 8 inch x 8 inch proof was posted to me on the following Monday. (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
- The proof arrived the following Tuesday. (I am in the UK and Spoonflower is in the US.)
- I sat and looked at it and thought – This is pretty amazing. There must be something wrong with it.
But there isn’t.
The sample was folded when it arrived – and neatly creased along the folds.
So I washed it.
and ironed it on the reverse (I always iron printed fabrics on the reverse).
I had asked for a sample in the cheapest fabric available and this is very fine and smooth (and slightly transparent).
It is also looks unbleached and is very slightly creamy in colour, and this does affect the colour of the print.
(The fabric on the left and the paper print on the right – again, this is an unfair comparison as I can only print in CMYK and Spoonflower prints in RGB).
I would say that, on this fabric, the print quality is excellent, with very minimal colour bleed.
(The ruler is showing millimeters).
But what made me smile most was the one of the nicest compliment slips that I have seen for ages.
And the thing that made me laugh when I saw it…?
(You will need to take a look at my previous post to understand why.)
I really must see if I can get some American coins, mustn’t I?
*** *** ***
In conclusion, am I planning to see if Spoonflower can handle some very small prints?
I am very tempted to, and if I do I will report back – with a sample book of the various materials available and a ruler !
*** *** ***
If you would like to visit my Spoonflower page in the meantime, it is here –