Design your own fabric.

Poly Crepe de chine Basic repeat 300DPI

Creating an unique handmade wardrobe doesn’t need to stop with sewing clothes or bags. You can expand your creativity and design your own fabric, wallpaper, gift wrapper etc. In collaboration with Spoonflower; today’s blog post it’s all about exploring the wonderful word of surface design.

Inspiration & creating a colour story.

Creating original artwork can seen a bit daunting at first. Start by picking a theme that sparks your interest and gather as many images you can. Create a mood board with the aesthetic you would like to categorise your fabric. Floral, geometric, stripes? Use texture and scale to reflect your inspirations.

Image via Pinterest.

When learning a new skill it takes practice and determination. If staring at a blank page give you creative block why not start working on a coloured page? Or take an original photograph and digitise into a drawing? Next step is to build a colour palette. Adobe Capture &  Colour lovers are my favourite tools.

I am obsessed with high saturated images with an inspiring mix of colours. An easy way to start is to  use design theory as a guide. You can choose monochrome theme building one main colour including light and dark variations. Analogous theme is built from 3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel. Complementary theme is built from two colours opposite each other. Triadic theme is built from 3 colours equally spaced around the wheel.


Designing Repeats by hand.

Pick any size paper and mark your corners from 1-4. Start drawing in the centre keeping the sides free.

It doesn’t matter what you are drawing but simple designs are easier to understand and practice this technique for the first time.

Fold in half and cut. You will have sets with numbers 3-4 & 1-2.

Tape them together. Start drawing again filling blank spaces.

Now fold vertically and cut your design. You will have a set 3-1 & 4-2.  Now you will reverse your design and tape them back together. (4-3-2-1).

Draw again. Be sure to draw cross the torn lines. Take a piece of tracing paper and trace your whole work.

Slide the design and trace over each side. You will be able to visualise the full repeat.  This helps to visualise how elements flow together making your work better distributed in your block.

With the design copied 4 times you will be able to identify the repeat that you will upload to Spoonflower. Now digitise your hand drawn block.

Digital file.

If you have one design element it’s easy to play with the different repeat effects on Spoonflower website.

Photoshop can be used to create a more intricate design. The same process of breaking the final design in 4 to create a repeat as we done it by hand apply.

Technical Information.

Preparing your file for printing. Spoonflower recommends uploading a JPG or PNG file at 150 dpi. The site allows JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, AI, EPS, or SVC file under 40 MB. DPI means dots per inch and means how defined will be the resolution of your image. One important thing to consider is scale. Make sure when you scan your drawing the scale doesn’t diverge from your plans.  Order a test swatch to catch any issues with your design or even to make sure the colour is exactly what you expected.

This post is a collaboration with Spoonflower, a eco-friendly digital print company. 

  • Marquise Electrique

    Hey Rachel, Just to warn you, I think something went wrong with wordpress, I don’t see your article when I clicked on the email link 😉

    • houseofpinheiro

      Thanks dear. Since changing my theme my blog isn’t working as well.

  • Love your tutorial how to draw repeating pattern. A first sketch is usually faster by hand, then playing around on Photoshop.
    One day I would like to print fabric with my own pattern. Till then I am going to have fun with screen print.

  • Hi Rachel, I am sure you know by now that i am an avid reader of your blog posts, I would also like to invite you for guest posting on my site if you are interested. Very thorough post and yes new skills takes practice and determination. I also use Colourlovers photo Color Palettes.


  • Rachel Barnes

    I enjoyed this post so much! I have enjoyed purchasing fabrics from Spoonflower and thought it would be fun to create a design for print, but wasn’t sure the best way to go about that. Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I look forward to putting them into practice in the future.