i've had a proper chance to look over the fabrics now, and i reckon overall it's a thumbs up. the service from spoonflower has been brilliant. i spotted my prints on this week's movie, but was expecting the post to take much much longer. i've always had prompt replies to any questions, and they sorted out the shipping which is a bit screwy during the beta (basically each fabric goes through as a separate purchase which ends up with huge shipping charges, but i got a refund on everything overpaid).

the fabric is nice - a standard quilting cotton from what i can see. i won't prewash as they're destined for a quilt and i want it to do the first wash puckering thing. the quality of the print is good, with just the faintest banding in areas of solid colour.

you can tell there's a but coming, can't you...

the colours are quite different to what i envisaged. now i don't think this is a problem at spoonflower's end at all, but i think it will probably be an issue that will arise again and again for them. simply because colour ?management ?profiling (see i don't even know what it's called!) is an arcane art to (i would hazard a guess) most of us eager-but-green users. translating screen into print is not straightforward, and i imagine there are more than a few numpties who are trying to design on laptops too :shock: :roll: :oops:

but the trouble is, numpties that we are, we've paid our money and if we don't get what we expected we can't help being a tiny bit disappointed. anyone who designs a fabric will do so with a particular palette in mind. anyone who cares enough to pay for custom printing will care if the colours are slightly off. sure that's what swatches are for, but translating the results of a swatch that is "off" into a file that produces the right colours when printed is going to take a fair bit of trial and error (or is it not? if anyone has numptyproof tips please share!).

so for the record here's how my (laptop *hangs head*) screen image translated into print:

  • the image reproduced at 60% of the screen size. having read scanning101 (recommended to anyone who wants to get a firm grasp of image size/resolution etc.) i was at least expecting that. i was also expecting some colour variation but had no way to predict which way it would go.
  • overall the prints came out much yellower than on screen, and more washed out. i had some strong reds that came out orange, as did my browns, pinks came out peach, oranges came out yellow. so the palette is reduced to yellows and oranges without the variation it had on screen.
  • to match the printed fabric on-screen i had to crank the yellow right up, the red right down and lighten strongly

now what i do with that info i'm not entirely sure. my designs used a limited colour palette, so it's hard to say whether those colour shifts apply across the spectrum (now i understand all those pantone charts and colour pickers i've seen people printing). if so i could just create an adjustment layer that i use to proof any future designs. or is it actually a photoshop colour management issue? i have problems along these lines when i upload images to flickr - they always look less saturated than they do in ps.

see now i'm totally lost :( if anyone has any pointers i'd really love to hear them...

all that said, i always try to nail the things i'd do differently next time when i post them here - i know it can come across as criticism, but really it's me writing down everything i've noted during the process, it doesn't mean i'm not happy with the outcome. i'm truly delighted with the fabrics, i think they're cute as can be.

we've had a great fleet of ducks on our telly for years and years (refugees from a fete worse than death), but since they found their way into the bath and filled with water through their hook-holes they've gone putrid and i've just had to throw them out. but they had a farewell photoshoot before the end, and these are the result of that.

i wanted to make a co-ordinating range, i wanted to try various different scales, i wanted to experiment with directional and non-directional prints. i really love the large scale print, it's absolutely something i couldn't have bought off the shelf and i had fun designing it.

so a definite thumbs up for spoonflower, stay tuned to see how the fabrics end up - i'm itching to play with them sooner rather than later.