Sunday, April 23, 2017

115 Swatches Knocking at the Door (that's FedEx actually) - Contrado continued

Remember, you click on the photos and they get huge

Contrado's fabric choices page is pretty good

They give you good selection filters/controls on the left, and the fabric pages give you the critical information you'd need: weight, content, suggested uses. The max. print is the printable width.

So I ordered the swatch set. Three days by FedEx, so that 7.50$ shipping did the job.

A two inch thick stack of entertainment.
Delivered by FedEx. I had to sign for it.
See what I do for you? 
Okay, I did it for me. But I thought about you, honest!
Lots of them
It took me a couple of days to open it up; I was on my way out the door when they arrived, and I had a son to visit at college for the weekend.
And then it was just daunting. I was afraid I'd lose some of them.

I assumed that everything that wasn't explicitly labeled a particular fiber was...polyester. And that's pretty much true.
The full fiber contents are listed on their pages online.
Sorting them out
Upholstery or home decor weight polys

About half of the fabrics are housewares material.  Lots of upholstery weight fabrics, different textures and finishes, all poly. Potential bags or decor stuff. Blackout is rollerblind weight.

(I do not make rollerblinds. The roman shades damn near killed me, and once a year I have to mend them.)

Two different weights of felt, poly.
Oilcloth - two kinds
Three stretch laces

Lots of poly.
Clothing weight polys. The Crush velour is fun.

I'm not going to cover all the fabrics, as I'm really only interested in fabrics I can't get from Spoonflower or My Fabric Designs. I've invested a lot of time in Spoonflower, and shipping gets spendy internationally very quickly.  I have lost stuff by going the ground shipping route (in a package marked for me, there is a pair of deeply cool creepers from Romania, out there somewhere).

Contrado's yardage is spendy already. Spoony is 32$ a yard for eco canvas  and silky faille is $24. 54" wide, thank you. And that's before my designer discount.
So this has to be something I can't get anywhere else.
(we'll get to the 'how much' shortly)
Named fiber clothing weight
You get a good idea how the fiber blend affects the printing by using the same print for similar fibers (plant based versus petroleum. See how I got rayon in that group?).
You can see the variation in color between the denim and the viscose. Not as bright but well dyed. The cashmere is also a little faded in comparison to the cotton.

Poly outerwear plus that muslin. I've got a scarf idea that would work on.

stretching things
The Florence mesh is a lightweight mesh, super stretchy but translucent.  The quilted jersey on the bottom left would be a nice cardigan. If I wore cardigans. And the Plush Velvet is nice, but it's really a denser Minky and the image does distort when you brush it the wrong way. Like a napped print will.
There's a scuba and a neoprene in there, somewhere.

The ones that I was interested in were outerwear fabrics: Ripstop
Breathable waterproof would be a great rainjacket fabric.
Softshell jacket would make a good moto.
The super cool soft poly 'muslin' on the lower left would make faboo scarves; it's similar to the poly scarves in Anthropologie

if you click on this, it becomes a mammoth and easier read image
I did like the cashmere. It was the best of the swatches just for feel and opacity. 
$149 a yard
But it's cashmere. And it's nice and soft and squishy and would make the best dress ever. It would also make a wonderful scarf - it is 55" printable width. 

The viscose twill, at about $51.21yd, seems a little faded to start (and these swatches are too small to wash properly and keep a control sample). But I love rayon. I really do. It's my magical place, and if this dye sublimation process does the thing they say it will, it should miss that crocking/fading that has troubled Spoonflower.
And what do I mean by that?
dye sublimation printing; will not crack fade or peel. (high temp version)

You do NOT have to do full yards; you can customize the size by width or length. This seems odd to me; fabric comes off the roll full width. What about the extra width?  The scheduling of printing that would combine different widths just boggles the mind.
But I digress. That's not your problem.

At the end of it, I'd probably go with the breathable waterproof. Nice weight and drape, 2 yards at full width would be $108.26.
(sound of defibrillator)
How much do I love the idea of using my own fabric design?

How much do I hate the outerwear fabrics available to me?

Because I bought the swatches, I have a coupon for $25 off a purchase of over $55. Which puts a dent in it.

And I have this nylon:

And it's paid for. Thanks Pacific Fabrics.

I dunno. Maybe I get a yard of something. They are out of the cashmere.....and the poly muslin is the same price as the viscose...which seems weird.
And then there's shipping. 

I'll get back to you on this one.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring is officially here: Kalle shirt pattern coming out now

Here are the Pegasuses you were looking for. I know, they are upside down on the collar. Shhhhh! Don't tell anybody

Pattern testing gives me a chance to get out of my comfortable rut and make stuff I wouldn't make. Also geek out on technical matters. 

And frankly, Heather is a ton of fun to work with. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

It's been a long winter after the testing was done, waiting for it to come out. It wasn't going to sleeve, so it's not a winter thing.

sleeve: (v) to possess a longer arm covering without changing up the entire concept.

But now Winter Is Over.

Kalle is a pullover placket/button up shirt dress, with a faced yoke and faced hems and cuffed armsceye. And like all CCF patterns, it's instructions are faultless. 

My versions are of the pullover, and used the old version of the pattern. The  new version's placket is a little shorter.

Exciting tester photo. Yes, it's all about purple markers and photography.

Stripes are hem facing.

If you click on and enlarge this, you can see that I used the selvage for the collar and centered the name on the back. This does not follow exact grainlines, but I went with cute rather than perfect
Proof I made this way back when? The choir dress bags are visible in the back left corner on the rack.

I also made this out of Cotton and Steel cotton, which is about as heavy a fabric as you would want to make this out of. And as lovely as the yoke instructions are, I removed the inner layer to lighten up the shoulder line on the back seam.

I know,  buttons, but I needed to get this photo done and out. Placket is shorter now.

I dyed part of the rayon pegasi fabric for the placket and collar. See what a difference fabric choice makes?

I do love this pattern though. It's a classic shirtdress with solid state details and instructions, the placket and it's instructions/construction are worth using on other shirts because of that. It's a straightforward and rewarding sew. 
Because of the yoke (which extends out to the cuffs), I would recommend a soft fabric.  But I am going to make a couple more out of novelty fabric with a single yoke, because it's a great display for a great print.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Online digital printing Contrado Bags of Love

Digital design is about digits.  0s and 1s.

That's my summary and I'm leading with it, because that simple statement colors everything I'm talking about here.

Digital images are specific data points in space with precise color choices that can be rendered by a computer-driven print mechanism. It's not about 'a little more gray' or stretching the paint to extend to the edges to fill the canvas.

As for designing your yardage:
It's about data entry points on a wire-frame model that produce a preview image that absolutely represents the final image. Mostly represents, if we're talking Sprout Patterns or Roostery.

This has got to have been the most ridiculous afternoon I've spent online in years.  I just hope you're grateful this girl reporter went down this rabbit hole and took enough fun pix to give you a vague idea how it works.

Note: all of these images can be clicked on to make them original screen size. Don't say I didn't warn you. They BIG!


I do a lot of work on Spoonflower. I'm used to its interface, how it presents itself to you.

It is a very well built, user friendly website that assumes you came with a digital image in your hand and you want to use it in some manner. 

Roostery and Sprout are just extentions of the same website model. 

Either by adapting it to a fabric or editing it, the image is the vehicle you're driving.

You're probably familiar with Zazzle, Society6, Cafe Press. You can order things with your image printed on them. 
Zazzling a mug

Contrado/Bags of Love and their pals will print your image on fabric AND physical items. The design tools are roughly the same as Zazzle, with a few grace notes about 3D placement added.

There are two doors in: you can design an item or you can order an item and design it.

I'm going to tell you right now: choose design. It will let you save the item without purchasing it. The other way you're still designing it, but you can't just save it except in your cart.

Either way, if you have to back up in the process with your 'back' key, it takes you all the way back to the opening screen and you've lost everything you did with that product.

The key is: you need to have your design details down. Forget pixels: you want to know what imperial physical size your image presents well at. 

If you didn't know, you will soon enough.

Like Zazzle, and a billionity other sites, they will advice you that your image is not up to snuff, and will require you to reset it before you can proceed

It doesn't give you a suggestion for a successful resolution size, but you can move back and forth to this page with the onpage tools to adjust it.
You do have to adjust it. It will not let you proceed otherwise.
Kinda like Zazzle. Hm.

I did not test Contrado's responsiveness to copyright sensitive images.  Bags of Love did not wave any flags on an image I know Zazzle will flag but maybe it was not seeing it completely. That's a glitch.

So now that it's right sized, it doesn't fit the panel.

This image is built to repeat on the basic pattern

which fills it. Wish Zazzle did this.

You have to repeat this process for each panel: select, resize, image repeat choice.  Which gets tedious with the umbrella. I would have liked to be able to save my image as the resized version, but that isn't an option. 
It does let you rotate the image. Spoonflower does not.

The hat preview has glitched. 

Why do I need to design each panel individually?

As for have to pick your fabric first. The names are not intuitive. They have 95 fabrics, and a swatch set is $4, $7.50 shipping.  

Adjust the printed width to the full width of the yardage. It doesn't do it automatically - this is about the thing you're printing onto, not the image you're using. 

Selected auto fit to get the width of the image to match the fabric. this image is just that huge.

Then I chose pattern repeat style mirrored because that's how this image works

And this is what the whole piece will look like

And then it crashed.

Bags of Love is the same company, without the pitch for opening a store; they have more printable products for you to choose from.
They have sunglasses.
And fabric tags.

Have I done the 'print yardage for tags' pitch here? 
No? (facepalm)
Spoonflower 8" swatch (your choice of fabrics) makes 48 1 5/8" by 3/4" labels for $5, $6 with shipping to the US.

You're welcome.

You do have to finish them yourself with the swatch option. The smaller set in the photo are on performance pique for the knit tag uses. That size was too small: the 1 5/8ths are too big.

So here's the process on BofL:

That's a nice tag, but a buck seventyfive is also a lot of money for a tag.

Oops. That's $2.25 apiece. Ouchy. 
Shipped from the UK though. Your results will vary.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pullover woven shirt gets one last detail or two

The pullover shirt continues. 

In playing around with the basic shirt, I did change the neckline.
 I needed more opening to accommodate the bad right shoulder/ get the shirt on and off over my head. 

It splits to the side.

The whole neckline is finished with bias trim, down that split opening and around.
It overlaps enough for modesty's sake. 

Did you know there are five different yellows in bias tape right now?

Opens enough to give me the stretchable space to pull this off over my head with little struggle.

The lengths I will go to in avoiding buttonholes...

 The process is a little easier to see in the second fabric version
I staystitched around the neck and down to where I'm cutting (also securing the facing, love a 2fer)


Bias binding around the collar and the placket

I sew over pins. I work on costumes for youth groups. I live on the edge, baby!
And I wear glasses, so eye protection!

I forced that bulge at the corner; a slight wearability fudge for gap prevention. One I did not need to do with this version.

The difference between the first blue edition and this gold dot edition is the staystiching I did around the collar. Because I had some stretching and distortion the first go-round, I made sure that I faced and stay-stitched the collar opening as soon as possible, while the work was still flat on the table. 
Yes, I have been sewing for about fifty years, but I have been a sloppy one for about forty of those. And most of the fabrics I have used have let me get away without such niceties.

Not the upholstery fabric jeans.

You see that bulge below the yoke on the left side? That is a result of the crotch seam stretching out on that piece almost two inches from being handled and not staystitched. I cut the seam back and the interior stretched out fabric had to go somewhere. 

That bulge didn't show up until I put the pants on and took this photo.

I cried.

So staystitch already!

On reflection, I think I want a facing behind the opening (sewn to the upper flap from behind) because I really am about as modest as you can imagine)

I could have hand stitched it, but I'll be honest: I am an uneven hand stitcher. I would rather have the tiny errors with a machine than the overall uneven effects of my handwork.

I made a covered button and a tiny bias tube for a loop.

I did make enough bias trim to hem the whole gold version; it's a reversible woven dot shirting I got at District Fabrics. Where all the good things come from!

Okay so this one goes the other way

The print asked me for two tone button stacks. This is where the big jars of buttons come in handy.

Many auditioned, few were chosen.
The bias tape is pretty stiff and unforgiving on that corner turn. Needs work with a screaming hot iron. Or just cover it with the button.
This was the first version, back off!

And no, I'm not modeling it for you until I remove that unfortunate bias trim that slices me in two in a really unfortunate spot.

The other thing I did relates to the widening I did towards the bottom of the 3/4ths sleeve.
This is the version with a contrast bias hem. My hand is not that color. Really.

It made it easier to take on/off, but felt too open at the hem
So I folded it over a little and stitched it

It hits just below the elbow and looks pretty good. And allows me to use the selvage at the sleeve hem (from the nifty wax print I got two yards of at Seattle Art Museum's gift shop).

Finally, some successful sewing! Now let's go make more horrible mistakes!
With a raincoat!