Custom Printed Fabric

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by Marla, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    Finding cute reproduction fabric of vintage prints can be a job within itself, nevermind the sewing patterns. But what if you can't find just what you're looking for, or you fall in love with a vintage print that isn't available anymore?

    Have you ordered custom printed fabric? What companies do you recommend? Were you happy with how the design came out? How did you decide on the type of fabric for your chosen design to be printed on?

    Share your thoughts and experiences!
     
  2. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

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    It seems like this would be incredibly cost-prohibitive. There are a lot of companies out there that make retro fabric designs and many that sell vintage fabric stocks as well. I understand that finding gabardines and rayon novelty prints can be a little harder, but cottons are not all that difficult.

    Have you researched custom fabric printing cost and if so, can you give us an idea of what kind of prices we're looking at?

    edit: here's a site I just found that will do custom printing for $18-32/yd (YIKES!), but only on natural fibers. http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome

    Here's another ranging from $20-33, with a wider variety of fabrics - http://www.karmakraft.com/
     
  3. kamikat

    kamikat Call Me a Cab

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    I've been a member of spoonflower since the beginning, but the cost is way out of my price range. They have made lots of cute fabrics.
     
  4. Drappa

    Drappa One Too Many

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    I haven't had printed fabric exactly, but I needed ten photos printed on fabric and it took days to find a place to do it and was really expensive. I found some places then that did custom fabrics as well, but it's not worth the cost IMO. There are tons of cute vintage repro fabrics out there, and unless you get a large amount made it is too pricey for home sewing I think.
     
  5. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

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    Another option would be to use that special printer paper that acts as fabric transfer sheets.
     
  6. crwritt

    crwritt One Too Many

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    I had an image of a dollar bill printed on stretch lycra for a client to use as a prop at baseball games.
    The company I used was DPI in San Francisco.
    http://www.dpi-sf.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=133&Itemid=90
    I think the cost would be prohibitive if you are just doing home projects, but if you are doing professional work, or are not so concerned with cost, they can do fabulous things.
     
  7. Drappa

    Drappa One Too Many

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    I read about those but our printer is busted and also quilters I asked said the quality was questionable and prone to fading, and I needed them for a heirloom quilt, so didn't want to take the chance.
    It turned out nice, and exactly the size I needed, but I wouldn't do it for just a home sewing project.
     
  8. Laughing Magpie

    Laughing Magpie One of the Regulars

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    Custom printing can be a big hassle and expense. I haven't used Spoonflower, but it is the site I thought of first too. I think Spoonflower comes closest to making custom printed fabric accessible.

    If you're serious about the project, you can start looking for promotional companies, printers and graphic artists that have either screen printing or dye-sublimation (that you can use on synthetics) that might do it. But you're probably looking at hundreds of dollars to set it up, let alone begin printing.

    If you just need some text or a picture, and not an "all-over" design, the heat transfers can be ok, but they're not good for trying to cover a large section of fabric, and yeah, they can peel or fade with time.

    There is also a home screen printer called "the YuDu" that sells at craft stores, which is fairly expensive, but marketed at crafty individuals rather than professional printers:
    http://whatdoyudu.com/

    I've heard mixed reviews of the YuDu, and it would be really difficult to use it to cover material with an "all-over" design. However, for just doing the front of a t-shirt or a quilt square, it probably works better than the heat transfers. You can use all-cotton or cotton/poly blends with it.

    The YuDu is sort of a "package" - you have to use its software, ink, screens, etc. But screen-printing has been around for a long time, and artists set up their own screen-printing systems - that's actually what I would like to do.

    Finally - on the low-tech end of things - if it's a natural fibre (cotton, silk and I include rayon too here) in a woven fabric you can do old-school things like batik (using wax as a resist and then dyeing) or stamping/blocking directly with fabric ink/dye to make a repeating design. If you were making a Regency-era fabric, for instance, this would be a nice way to reproduce their prints.

    But... in the end, for pretty little florals and novelty prints, ready-made is probably a whole lot easier :)
     
  9. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    Interesting replies, ladies! Most repro fabric is available in quilting cotton only, which is very limiting (and not all that great for draping anyway).

    I'm thinking specifically of having a certain vintage design reproduced, just as a one-time-thing. Spoonflower is out because they only print on cotton, and I would like the fabric to be rayon. Sure $18 per yard isn't cheap, but for a dress I'd only need 4-5 yards. It would be worth it for a very special dress.
     
  10. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

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    You could check the other site I posted - they will also do special fabric requests. However, you would likely end up paying $30+/yd for that.
     
  11. Lauren

    Lauren Distinguished Service Award

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    I'm also anxious to try this, but I haven't figured out the perfect project yet. Lots of ideas bouncing around in my head, but then when I think of how much it would cost I loose steam. Eventually, though, I'd love to try it.
     
  12. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    Lauren, didn't you go to fashion school? I thought making your own fabric was part of fashion design curriculum. Did you have a chance to do anything like that?
     
  13. Lauren

    Lauren Distinguished Service Award

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    I did, but it was a different major than mine. They had a whole textile design major. I wish they would have included at least a little of it!
     
  14. miserabelle

    miserabelle One of the Regulars

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    In regards to the iron-on transfers... I've never been too impressed - they depend too much on the quality of your printer, and they sort of... sit on top of the fabric, and are a bit crispy.

    I'm lucky in the sense that I've got access to a print room through my job so if I needed to (and wanted to spend a lot of money on pigments and dyes!) I could print some stuff myself... that might be an option for you, if you approached a college with print facilities, to hire their print room out of term time and do some silk screen printing.

    xx
     
  15. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    That wouldn't be difficult to arrange since I'm an art major at college. I hadn't thought of doing it myself, but at least that way I can control the whole process. The next issue is finding undyed and untreated fabric to print on.
     
  16. Some colleges (or maybe even community centers?) offer classes on silkscreening. I believe the technique is mainly used for printing smaller designs on garments, like T-shirts, but perhaps you could use it for yardage as well.

    I tried using one of those heat transfer printer sheets once, just to put some text on a T-shirt. I wasn't happy with it at all; turns out that you have to cut around the design (the background isn't transparent - don't know why I thought it would be), and it goes on stiff and fake-looking. :( In my case, it also bled when I washed the T-shirt! I wouldn't advise using it for anything beyond craft work.
     
  17. Sickofitcindy

    Sickofitcindy One of the Regulars

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    I think I did read about a custom printing company that prints on other fabrics but I can't remember the name :( I have used spoonflower and am happy with them. When I ordered from them they only had regular cotton. Now they have expanded to cotton lawn, twill and sateen. The only issue I noticed was a difference in color output between the actual fabric and my monitor. I did order a swatch beforehand and was aware of the difference but it didn't bother me. They have excellent customer service. I received a piece which had an error and they promptly sent me a replacement.
     
  18. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Have a look around trueup.net. Its a blog dedicated to fabric. There may be some past posts that talk about what you are looking for, or submit a question.

    LD
     
  19. kamikat

    kamikat Call Me a Cab

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    http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/2935094-AA.shtml offers a wide range of Ready-To-Dye fabrics. I've been a loyal customer since before they had a website :)
     
  20. Laughing Magpie

    Laughing Magpie One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    I second the recommendation for Dharma Trading!

    Even if you don't buy fabric from them, there is a lot of great information on their website about working with textiles and all the techniques I mentioned above.
     

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