Digital patterns enter the real world with printed cotton

This week I’ve finally brought several designs to life that I’ve been working on for quite a while. It’s helped me to move on to the next stage of my project and re-evaluate some designs from a new perspective.

If you have been following my blog (I think there might be a couple of you out there!). You’ll know that for the last 12months (yikes!) I’ve been working on patterns made from repeated elements.

I have a few different methods for making patterns, but generally it involves:

drawing or painting > photograph > digital edits > arrange elements > create seamless pattern master tile

Here is my T-Rex master tile:

trex fabric print

The master tile is crucial to getting a good result for printing and digital applications. You’ll end up with a design that has bits hanging off the edges that complete each other when tiled. It reminds me of those edge matching puzzles where you had to fit the head of the animal correctly with it’s body.

Almost every one of my designs will start off on paper, go onto the computer and occasionally ends up back in the real world in some form. I’ve always had the vague idea in my head that I’d like to get some fabric printed. I could then sew up some pouches or pillow cases, or maybe even make some shirts.

So this week I took the plunge and got some swatches printed onto cotton!!

It’s the most exciting Wildfowl development this year and it’s nice to take (even a rather small) leap ahead, especially after some of my other projects have been put on the back burner. I hate putting off projects but I also don’t want to over stretch my resources, time, money, etc.

The nice thing about working on digital projects is that they’re always there to pick up again. All you really need is hard drive space.

So, without any further delay, let me introduce you to:

Singing TREX

Dinosaur fabric printed from watercolour

dinosaur t rex fabric print

He sings he dances, he has tiny little arms and a robust roar.

Wisdom Tooth

teeth fabric

Open wide and I’ll pull those out for you. You don’t need them anymore, now that we have Google.


courgette fabric print from watercolour

Globe courgette watercolour fabric

Fresh from the allotment with their pretty deep green skins. That round one is a globe courgette in case you’re wondering. I wrote a bit more about how a day at the local famers’ market gave birth to this design.

Floria. F.L.O.R.I.A floooria!

Palm leaves painted fabric

Gentle green fronds alternating large and small.

Silver screen

people working at computers fabric

Work time on screen, break time on screen, weekends, evenings. Change of scene? Go and chill out with your smart phone.


digital and watercolour fabric pattern design

I was prepared for MishMash to come out quite beached compared to the digital file because of the way colour is absorbed into the cotton. But it looks quite good.

The thing I love most about fabric printing is how the drawing and watercolour translates onto the cotton. It looks like each T-rex has been painted, and each yellow leaf of MishMash applied by hand. The Silver Screen workers look like they’ve been draw on with ink.

I’m continually learning that paying a little bit of money to get something printed or made up is a huge help in moving forward. The main thing I’ve learned through this exercise is about size, scale and pattern placement. What might look like a nice position on the screen can turn out to be odd in real life. For example the silver screen characters look so far away from each other, and the little accessories turned out to be way too small. I like leaving space between the elements but I think I’ll have to tighten this up a bit.

I hope this will give me the motivation to bring to life some of my other projects in the near future.

And if you’re like me, get unstuck by printing off a draft or send it to a local manufacturer. You’ll find your head full of new ideasĀ  – and who doesn’t love fun post? Not just another bill.

cotton fabric prints in the post

I hope this helps you get ‘unstuck’.

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