Guest blogger series: Fabric design tips

by kath_red on 01/03/2011

in Guest Series 2011, Resources

Today I am happy to welcome Fabric Designer Lizzy House to Whipup.

I have designed fabric professionally now for 4 years, and since then, things have changed. When I started approaching manufacturers I was the only kid at the show. 21 years old with a bow in my hair; I was still in school, I’m not married, I have no children, I was an anomaly to the industry in 2006. Quite a few things have changed since then. The market has become much more saturated with “young” designers, giving peeps involved in this Modern Sewing movement a greater opportunity to find fabric that interests them. In my opinion all of these are great things. The one twist, that I’d like to discuss today, is about becoming a designer in this changing climate. Whether it be because of the industry, the scarcity of cotton, or the bumbling economy, manufacturers are taking on fewer new designers.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for you, if designing fabric is something that you want to do. What it means, is that you have to come to the table fully prepared.

Here are a few specifics to help you get on your way:

1. Your work has to be unique and original. Manufacturers are looking for new. It can’t be your impression of someone else’s work. It needs to be fresh and from your perspective. Take a look at what is out there and see if there is something that you can twist to fill a hole in what’s already available.

2. You need to keep a blog that other people follow. Manufacturers are now looking for people with a built in following. As tacky as that might sound, it makes perfect sense. When they are investing time and serious dollars into you, they need to know that you are a safe bet. So work on building up your internet street cred.

3. Beyond having a blog, your work needs to be out there. Whether you are licensing your artwork, printing and selling with SpoonFlower, or selling it in your etsy shop. Manufacturers need to be able to get an idea of who you are, and you want a sales team to be able to get behind you, just by googling you.

4. Back everything up with confidence and passion. If you believe in your work, it becomes easier for other people to believe in it.

These four things are a good start to helping you get your foot in the door in the Textile World in the Quilting Industry. But what about other fields? Say you are looking to publish a book. A publisher is essentially in the same exact position as a fabric manufacturer. They are just printing books instead of fabric. So you can apply these four points to any end of the craft industry for better success.

If you are looking to find out more about the textile industry you can check out my ebook How to Enter the World of Textile Design for the Quilting Industry.

And if you are hoping to become a published author, you can check out this really helpful post from acquisitions editor for Stash Books Susanne Woods on the Sew Mama Sew blog, and a thoughtful podcast about ins and outs of publishing at CraftyPod.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jenni March 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Oh to see the Lizzy fabric of collections past! Happy to hoard most of these prints. :)

If I’m ever brave enough to take my doodles seriously, your book is FIRST on my reading list!!!


2 Siobhan March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

As always – Great Info Lizzy. :)


3 monica March 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

she makes so much happy fabric :-)


4 eva March 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

thanks for the tips! very useful


5 ikoplus fabric March 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Lovely fabrics and good colour pick up.


6 Seanna Lea March 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Very cool. I’ve found building up “internet street cred” to be a lot harder than it looks.


7 Jennifer March 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Thank you SO much for outlining all of this. I want to do fabric designing but didn’t have a clue how to start but kept stumbling across blogs of fabric designers and now you have made sense of it all. Your book is on the “to do” list. Thanks!


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