A Field Guide to Fabric Design, by Kim KightAs a longtime designer for many media, I’m among the kajillions who took one look at the idea of fabric printing on demand (thanks to Spoonflower) and went wild. Here was a way to quickly flesh out and share fabric pattern ideas. I was in heaven.

Very quickly after that, I realized I had landed in a very different world. I have always loved being part of a print legacy that began 500 years ago, and a commercial art heritage that goes back to the Roman Empire. Fabric design, it turns out, is far older. I am an utter newbie stepping into a continuum that can be traced back to earliest humanity.

Fortunately, Kim Kight does not concern herself with any of that in her book.

She is a practical writer, which is why I’ve been a fan of her blog for years. In A Field Guide to Fabric Design: Design Print & Sell Your Own Fabric, she focuses on exactly those things. She does it clearly, explaining every term with warmth and enthusiasm. I can pick it up when I’m wrestling with a design challenge or business question, and either quickly find what I’m looking for, or have a good idea where to look next.

Keep in mind: it’s a Field Guide, so probably not something you want to read cover-to-cover. I pop between different sections, depending on what I’m wanting to learn. That allows me to absorb more information without getting overwhelmed.

The book is broken into three main sections:

  1. Design and Color
  2. Printing
  3. The World of Fabric Design

The first section covers fundamentals of fabric design, pattern making and an intensive look at color from the fabric design perspective. The second section looks at fabrics, their construction and types of printing. The last section is a gracious welcome to the ins and outs of the industry. Throughout, the book includes abundant tutorials, software tips, traditional “by hand” tips and practical fabric industry wisdom. Kim speaks equally enthusiastically to professionals, wannabes and avowed hobbyists.

I also enjoy the quotes on different topics from other designers. Some contradict each other—a sure sign that you get to pick and choose, trying out different approaches to the art and business of fabric design until you find something that’s a fit.

Books that promise to guide and instruct are often disappointing, but not this one. It’s money well spent, and it’s on my desk or in my art bag often.

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