I’ve been trying to find the “perfect” Sherlock Holmes-inspired pillow for my home for months and months. I’ve been failing desperately though. If I’m being honest, it’s me, not the internet. There’s a ton of options, but I have been looking for something subtle and Google Search Results for “Subtle Sherlock Holmes pillows” does not actually locate much of anything.
Then I thought I found the answer. It was like the internet angels sung it out to me. AHHHHH OOOOH, it’s Spoonflower.
Ugh. Not that easy internet. Not that easy. Y U Got to Go and Trick Me Like That?
There are plenty of great tutorials on their site and a few Google searches pulled up some interesting tips, but after struggling with this thing for hours, I thought I’d share some of my observations with you. If for no other reason than you can hopefully save yourself an hour or two. (Once my swatches show up, I’ll share those too.)
Here’s five tips for avoiding disaster and designing wonderful textiles on Spoonflower:
1. It’s easier to create the single design and then let Spoonflower do the work of repeating the pattern. Take my “Where’s My Deerstalker?” graphic above. I had originally tried to create a brick pattern on my own, but after struggling with it for hours and uploading literally 11 different versions, I gave up on my own concept of the layout and let Spoonflower do the hard part for me. If you have never had to make a pattern before, it is a lot harder than you think. I learned that lesson the hard way.
2. If you upload a JPG, expect the colors to change. I had no trouble with PNGs, AI, PDF or EPS files. I am not sure if a compression would have helped, but since we’re printing high resolutions, I didn’t want to take that chance.
3. Let Spoonflower do the scaling for you too. A handy little trick within the interface is the ability to make the print larger or smaller with the rulers giving you a guide for scale. If you start with a relatively large design, you should be able to get it to the right proportions.
4. Don’t forget to adjust the image on your test swatch. This fabric isn’t cheap. Skip the fat quarter and get the test swatch for $5. You can adjust the crop of the swatch as well, so be sure you are getting a visual of what you really want.
5. Think about using the service for small projects too. I get some of my best ideas from trolling the awesome work of others. I loved this concept from blogger Armommy, who came up with a design that would make 8 hand warmers and then used Spoonflower to make the project available to her readers complete with printed instructions included on the fabric.
Have any of you used Spoonflower before? Have you been happy with the results?
Sophie of Sweetcheeks Stitches (on Etsy, Facebook, and @sweetcheeksshop on Twitter) is our Lady Geek of the Week! Sophie fashions pretty tops, skirts, and dresses in unexpected fabrics, giving us all a chance to be Geek Chic.
Sophie graciously took the time to respond to a few questions I asked her about her geekiness. Check it out!
Q: What has led you to your passion?
A: I’ve been into sewing for as long as I can remember. My grandma used to take care of me while my mum was at work, and she was always on the sewing machine, so I learned a lot from her. I moved to London from my hometown a few years ago, just as my son was starting school. I wanted to be able to take him and pick him up myself, so needed a job that fit round his hours. I took several courses on dressmaking, and last year was given an award at the end of one, and featured in a fashion show. This, along with compliments on items I had made for myself, gave me the confidence to take the plunge and open SweetCheeks Stitches.
Q: What inspires you in the world?
A: Mainly my 6 yr old son, he’s my biggest supporter! He’s a huge geek as well, and loves helping me choose which fabrics to get for the shop.
Q: When is the first time you realized you were “geeky?”
A: I was 10, and it was the final day of term at school. As it was the last day, all the kids were allowed to bring in a toy to play with. People brought games, and balls, all kinds of things, but I took my Walkman. The tape inside? The Wrestlemania album. I still know all the words to Never Been a Right Time to Say Goodbye by Bret Hart.
Q: “I admit it—I’ve never seen/read/experienced: ____”
A: Harry Potter. Never read any of the books, or seen any of the films. I only started selling Harry Potter things in the shop after making a dress for my friend who loves them. Anything I know about it comes from her!
Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
A: Don’t believe anyone that tells you ‘Your school days are the best days of your life’. Being an adult rules. You’ll probably never be a ‘grown up’ though.
Do you know someone worthy of Lady Geek of the Week? Send her name and her website (or blog or Twitter account) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post by Emma Bauer, who works as BGC’s official intern. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. On twitter: @emmalynnbauer
Hi, I’m Liz and I’m addicted to my cameras.
Over the years, I’ve acquired quite the collection of cameras. Vintage cameras, 90s cameras, new model Canons. I’ve even been known to save a disposable camera that has a case design that I find charming.
Here’s the thing: I hate camera straps. The whole wearing the camera over my neck always seems uncomfortable and essentially turns your chest into a camera shelf. However, I love wristlets. So, the camera wristlet was born.
It’s super easy and cheap to make. Here’s the step-by-step:
1. Get 1/8 a yard of fabric. Cut the fabric to 4 inches wide by 12 inches long. Cut a piece of medium weight fusible to 2 inches wide by 12 inches long. (Pro tip: if you don’t have enough fusible, you can use scrap pieces and fuse two pieces together.)
2. Iron the fusible to the center of the fabric. Fold in the sides and iron. Fold the entire strap in half and iron again, so you have an singular, folded up strap that’s 1 inches wide by 12 inches long. Pin the long side.
3. Sew the edge. Do not back-stitch, because you’ll need the raw edges for the next step.
4. Turn one raw edge inward on each side to create a triangular (or 45 degree angle) edge. Put your swivel hook on through the edge. Then, put the other raw edge INTO your triangular edge. Stitch the triangular side.
5. Pull the swivel hook up to your seam. Pull it tight into the hoop and stitch in place.
6. Attach to your camera. I bought a small triangular jump ring at the craft store, which I attached to the cameras hooks where the strap would normally go. This just gives you a little bit looser attachment, so you can get more movement.
1/8 yard fabric
1/8 yard medium fusible
One swivel hook
One small jump ring (not required)
Total cost: I used leftover materials, but if you had to buy everything new, you could do it for as little as $3 to $5. A small swivel hook costs about $1.50, a single jump ring is .50, and 1/8 yard of fusible shouldn’t be more than $1. Spend as much as you want on the fabric!
I recently discovered a new invention in the world of sewing: fusible batting. If you’ve ever dealt with batting before, you know that it can be a real pain in the butt. It’s cumbersome, sometimes irritating to the touch and inconsistent in its quality. Into this arena comes fusi-boo, a batting that is still awkward to touch, but considerably less cumbersome than other products.
1. Easy to understand instructions. Set your iron to wool with the max steaming potential and off you go. Your iron needs to stay hot though, so keep a water canister near by.
2. It’s washable. Once you finish the quilt, you’ll be able to wash it to get rid of any of the fusible residue. One wash was sufficient for me.
3. Great for small projects. I can see this working well for small projects like purses, totes and small quilts. It’s really most easily controlled in small sections.
1. Inconsistent fusing. Some sections of the batting clearly stuck to both sides of my quilt, while in others, the bottom layer of the quilt didn’t get fused at all. The only thing I can think was potentially wrong was the length of time I used in each place. The instructions say 3 seconds, but I found that 5-6 seconds was the only way to ensure things stuck.
2. Difficult for larger projects. I used this for a queen size quilt and let me tell you, it took FOREVER. I thought it would save me time since I wouldn’t have to bother with basting, but this was just as time consuming.
Overall: Great for small projects, stick with basting for large projects.
I’ve been really interested in the plaid trend for home decor, but couldn’t think of a practical way to integrate it into my home. That was until I saw the new Gilded Noel collection for the Holidays at Target. The silver plaid tablecloth was an instant winner with me, but I’m not a fan of tablecloths. Then I realized: CURTAINS!
1. Start with the table cloth of your choice. Follow the instructions to wash and iron it. As evidenced by the final photo, the silver thread couldn’t handle the heat of the iron, so my finished product is wrinkled at the moment. I’m thinking a steamer might do the trick.
2. Pin a 4” section on one end. And press if you can.
3. Sew it up.
4. Put them up and measure to see if you need to shorten them too. I’ve noticed with these mass produced tablecloths that they’re not always the exact same length, so you may need to do a little tweaking for the bottom seam too.
Total cost of this project: $21.20; I bought them on sale last week (15% off) and they also have a coupon in the Target Coupons section for $3 off holiday tableware. Each panel was $10.09 after all the reductions and tax.
Last year, I decided I was flat out sick of the standard photo holiday cards that you can get from any number of big box retailers. The designs were so-so and the ones I really liked cost nearly $1 per card. I was ready for something completely new and perhaps something even more affordable than .29 per photo.
What I came up with was the stitched photo card. Last year, I made a Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed card and the idea stuck, so I’m at it again this year.
Here’s how I did it:
1. Buy pre-packaged cardstock cards with envelopes. Get your 4x6 photos and tape. Tape your photo to your cardstock.
2. Pick 2 different threads. I went with silver and lime green. First, I sewed all four sides of the photo with the silver thread. I used a loose stitch, so it didn’t pull at the photo or rip the paper. Then, sew all four sides again with any stitch you want in the second color. Zig zag would certainly be one fun way to go.
3. Cut all your threads off.
4. Last year, I printed on the bottom of all the cards before I started, but this year, I found some cute stickers and wrote messages on all of them and stuck them to the back. It’s really up to you.
Pre-packaged cardstock and envelopes (Example here)
Two threads in different colors
Total cost of this project: I made 50 cards for about $9. I bought the cards on sale for $4.99 and the photos for .10 a piece on Shutterfly, making the cards .18 each. Better than the printed cards!