In my ongoing quest to help crafters, sewists, quilters and others make the most of the tremendous selection of designs available from online fabric stores like Spoonflower, I came across a super-helpful FAQ by Sarah Walden, a.k.a. Peacoquette Designs.
With her permission, I am posting it here. A lot of what she says here applies to most independent digital fabric designers, so bookmark this page and revisit it as questions come up while you shop for fabric online. I’ve also illustrated this article with samples of Sarah’s work (I don’t earn a commission for sales of her fabrics).
I am the designer, not the manufacturer of the fabric
I make a repeatable tile and upload that to Spoonflower. I control the size and repeat. Once I set those and place the item for sale, it is all in Spoonflower’s hands. When you place an order, you pay them through their system. They handle the customer service and printing and delivery. 30 days later, I get paid 10% of the price you pay them. That means if you order $18 for a fat quarter, I get $1.80 or fifty cents for a swatch, etc.
In order for me to place a fabric for sale, it has to be “proofed”
That means, I have to order an 8×8 inch swatch of the fabric/wallpaper and have it shipped to me to make sure it prints relatively close to what is seen on the screen. I am charged $5 for the swatch and at least $1 for the shipping. Shipping is usually 6 to 7 days after I place the order, depending on how busy they are. There is faster shipping available for a lot more money (right now $15-25). Once I get the swatch and make sure it looks pretty good, I can place it for sale. I will notify you and you can order your fabric through Spoonflower.
Order a test swatch first if you need a perfect color match
The design will look different from screen to screen and from fabric to fabric. If you are trying to match something EXACTLY, make sure you order a test swatch on the fabric you plan on ordering first. I can make adjustments for you if I know exactly what you need!
Special requests take time: If you can, please pay a custom design fee
This is my livelihood. I have spent upwards of fifteen hours before on fixing a client’s request. I love to make you happy and sometimes that means revision after revision. These tweaks can be time consuming. I only make the ten percent commission. Sometimes that means working ten hours and making $1.80. So, if you are able to afford it, I love when you offer to pay me for the design time. I have a PayPal account set up for this and the proofing fees.
I really appreciate you paying me what you can. Some of you are students or homemakers and can’t afford anything more than the fabric. I understand this and you don’t need to pay me extra. However, if you have the money, please pay me what you would charge somebody for your professional time. I have received anywhere from $10 to $200 per design for my time. It is all appreciated and helps me pay my bills. If you need it to be exclusive to you, I offer various contracts for rates based upon your use. I can provide invoices if you require them.
With your detailed instructions, I can make almost anything you want!
I can make collages from photos, or a plaid from your child’s coloring or match the old curtains. The trick to getting what you want is to be precise with your request.
A good example is “I would like for you to design a pattern that repeats every 6 inches across and every 8 inches down. I would like the background to be #4fsofs (that’s hex code – more about that in a second) and I would like a cut out of the Degas ballerina found on this website, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas_021.jpg. I would like her to be scattered around in different directions and for her to be one inch high.”
What I often get is “Could you make a Degas ballerina on pink?” Then it takes ten versions to get what you want by me guessing. The more precise you are, the quicker I can get to the proofing! I can create original art or source public domain art. Dover Publications is a great source of inspiration.
I cannot use properties that belong to other people, like Disney, Doctor Who or any other trademarked/copyrighted material. You should not buy these from other people either unless you know they are a licensed vendor. I can create designs inspired by the properties, like a plaid out of the colors of Mickey Mouse’s shorts and buttons or make blue wood like the TARDIS from Doctor Who.
Getting the colors right
Spoonflower can print hundreds of colors and most of the time, things look nearly identical to the screen. However, there is a chart they have made that prints precisely true to the hex code on this chart.
By picking colors from that, we will both be happy. If I match a color to something you send me, the computer that controls the printing will choose the closest color to it. Most of the time, it looks great. Also, if you choose something that doesn’t have a lot of contrast, it will turn out muddied and the colors will melt into each other and not in a good way! I will always try to be honest with you about if I think it won’t print well, but always order a test swatch when in doubt! And, relax!!! Spoonflower has the most amazing customer service department when something goes wrong. If you receive your order and it doesn’t look right, call or write them and they will help you right away!
A note about white
There is no such thing as white ink in the Spoonflower system. If there is pure white in a design, it leaves the fabric unprinted. There are several off whites and light colors I can use, but there is NO white! 🙂 You should also order a sample pack of the fabric (ed. note: it’s a buck, free shipping!) as some have a very faint off white cast to them (as most fabrics do!)
Have fun and let me help! I am very patient!
By the way, Sarah recently posted a great video to YouTube about the fabric proofing process.
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