Julie Schneider has a handmade heart. She especially loves paper crafts, sewing, knitting, printmaking, and cooking. You can find her online under the guise of Your Secret Admiral (blog + shop), as well as teaching around Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in many books & magazines. She has also worked for Etsy for over 4 wild years and is in charge of Creative Community Programming and curating the How-Tuesday column on the Etsy Blog. She lives in a tiny palace in Brooklyn, NY with three sewing machines and eleven pairs of scissors.
We’re so lucky to have Julie guest blogging here today!
A table of fabric swatches I’ve made using Spoonflower, block printing, and batik.
I have a lifelong love of patterns and look for them everywhere I go, from the print of the old lady’s muumuu on the subway, to the way car headlights line up just so as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge at night. It’s everywhere, and I’m constantly taking photos and mental notes. Fabric design is something I naturally gravitate towards, yet I seem to find infinite paths to procrastinate in my pursuit. So, when Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design appeared in the mail, it felt like the right time to dust off my textiles degree and get those wheels turning again! This substantial volume is so jam-packed with inspiration, tutorials, and down-to-business practical know-how that it is sure to not only guide the budding fabric designer, but also spark new ideas for the experienced designers among us.
When I flipped to page 56 and found the Paper-Cutting Repeat instructions, I was happily transported on the fast train of my brain right back to the Surface Design class I took my sophomore year of art school. This is a great process for fabric design newbies, as it literally breaks down the elements of a pattern into paper building blocks. You can use this process as a playground to see what your doodles look like as a unit of a pattern repeat, and on the other end of the spectrum, you can use it as the basis for complex repeating designs. And, as the author, Laurie Wisbrun writes, “Trying out a new way to make a repeating pattern is a fun way to stretch your boundaries, if you are accustomed to working digitally.”
In my college class, we learned how to create repeating designs by hand using this very technique, and spent painstaking hours making repeats from scratch, the old fashioned way. After creating the square units of our designs, we made photocopies, experimented with direction and scale, and taped them all together to the size of a large silk scarf. Then we traced the resulting design onto a stretched silk scarf with a 7B pencil, traced on top of that with a water soluble resist squeezed from bottle, and carefully painted in the colors with dye. I made one with hundreds of tiny teeth swirling all over the silk, I wish I had a photo to share of that obsessive insanity, but I did manage to unearth a couple other science-inspired designs I made in that class. Oh, the achy wrists!
While my art school course didn’t delve into digital fabric design, there is now a whole bright world of digital techniques for making your fabric dreams come true. Let Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design be your guide, and remember to have lots of fun!
Download a project excerpt from the book on Facebook, and follow the instructions to make your own repeat in this manner.