printed fabrics

by maitreya on 02/08/2007

in Sewing+Fabric

Bitter Betty is hosting a hand-printed fabric swap (signups are closed on this one), and the fabrics people are making are really great and showcase a variety of techniques.

Tumbling Blocks, screen-printed pitcher plants


crafty mcgee, Gocco+sponge brush flying squirrels


Doll, lots and lots, printed by all sorts of stamps. This one’s with a piece of string glued to cardboard!


For more, check out the swap’s Flickr group


There’s so much talent in the craftblog universe that it’s not a surprise that we’re starting to cross over into traditional publishing. Bella Dia just posted a handy list of bloggers in books. It’s quite the list, with more books on the way. Here’s a guide to joining in the fun.


The easiest way to get your work into books is to submit to projects looking for designers. Blogs will sometimes advertise for submissions for a book in progress, and Whip Up also occasionally posts submission requests from publishers, like Lark Books (project submission page). Some of these publishers seem to read craft blogs and approach people directly through email if they like your work. If you’re really serious, you can get an agent, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Craft Sanity has some good podcasts with folks talking about how they got into the big time, including interviews with Amy Karol, the Sew Subversive ladies, and a variety of other (published) crafting rock stars.


There’s also the wide world of craft magazines, including online ones like Knitty (submission guide) and “real life” ones like Craft (submission guidelines), Readymade (submissions), and Adorn (design submissions).

When submitting projects, make sure to know what kind of things they are looking for and typically publish so you can make sure it’s the right match for your idea and style. Also, follow all directions, meet all deadlines, read any contracts thoroughly, and put your best foot forward in the proposal.

self publishing

The other route to go is to self-publish, which has the obvious benefits of lower barriers to entry, more flexibility, and that DIY ethic we all love, but the downsides that you have to do everything yourself and maybe even invest money up front. Graphic design and drawing skills are a definite plus. Patterns can be downloads or printed, free or sold through your website or Etsy.

PDF patterns

One increasingly popular route is the PDF tutorial. These are very much like the blogged tutorials we all know and love, but generally in a more put-together, printable (and saleable) format. There are over 1500 items in Etsy’s pattern category, plus some other examples like Fitzpatterns (sewing), Wee Wonderfuls (several toys), Futuregirl (cool octopus stuffie pattern) and Roxycraft (crochet and knit toys).

PDF patterns are pretty easy to do with fairly standard software. I’ve self-published a PDF book (for scientists, not crafters, but the concept’s the same) put together with my digital camera, scanned-in drawings, the graphics software that came with my computer, and Microsoft Word, which will export to PDF. Powerpoint can also do the job and has a little more layout flexibility. Illustrator and Photoshop are upgrades worth considering for more complicated stuff.

The Art of Crochet has a cool variation of this where you can buy downloadable patterns and also use an online size calculator to customize the pattern for your measurements. Plus they offer technical support. This is one thing I love about the intersection of publishing and the internet: the author is accessible, you can ask questions, get any corrections right away, and interact with other people making the patterns through Flickr groups or Craftster threads.

self-published but professionally printed

To take this idea to a more professional level, you can actually get patterns printed by a company. Disdressed (recent backpack pattern, sold out but being reprinted), Wee Wonderfuls (several pattern booklets and embroidery transfers, some still available), Angry Chicken (Mailorder) and Jess Hutch (knitted soft toys, out of print), among others, have successfully self-published patterns that are professionally printed, sold through their websites, and mailed to you. Overnight Prints seems to be a popular printer, though there are certainly others out there. is another way to do this. They offer both downloads and professionally printed options. The crafts and hobbies section includes stuff from The Crochet Dude among others.

Whew, long post, and it’s really only a cursory tour. People who know more than me, please feel free to add advice and resources in the comments section.


As a lover of both the White Stripes and buttons, I was intrigued by their costumes on the cover of their new CD, Icky Thump.


Nylon magazine satisfied my curiosity: their outfits are “pearly suits” made by a seamstress friend with 13000 buttons on each of them. Apparently, there’s an English tradition of pearly kings and queens making these outfits and going on parades. A Google image search for “pearly kings and queens” has all sorts of intricate costumes.

I think the White Stripes’ inspiration is familiar to many crafters (quote from Nylon article): “It’s all sort of about the idea of creative people as garbage collectors. Taking other people’s junk and trying to make something useful out of it, I guess.”


The galleries are up for Tie One On and the Pincushion Challenge.

Tie One On: theme was Rick-Rack, lots of good ones this time. May/June theme is pockets.


apron by Mantua Maker, I love how the rickrack is classy and graphic

Pincushion Challenge: theme was Eats, May/June theme is not posted yet


pincushion by doudou fille, I like how she took the classic strawberry pincushion and ran with it


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

A new monthly craft-along to join: The Purse Project, hosted by Woof Nanny.

The first theme is to use a tea towel.

The site has quite the collection of links to tutorials, bag blogs, etc. One inspiring example, Carry Handbags, sells bags that use vintage tea towels to good effect, like this one: