Fable and the Homemade Technicolor Dream Dress

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
A few months ago, Rebecca texted me a photo of a design Fable made by coloring with felt pens on a paper towel. 

“Wow!” I texted back.  “That’s amazing!  It would make awesome fabric!”

The next time I was visiting, I saw it in person and was even more blown away by the colors and design.   I sneaked it in my bag, bound and determined to figure out a way to transform it into fabric.  You see, as long as I remember, Fable has been talking about being a clothing designer.  She draws outfits, loves Project Runway, and has designed simple wearables. (Remember her Power Pockets?) Wouldn’t it be awesome, I thought, to transform one of her designs into fabric—her very first Fable Fabric!  I had plenty of time to figure this out—to have fabric made and sew it into a dress for her birthday.
IMG_8359 the paper-towel, now framed in Fable's room

The Internet can be amazing—and after Googling “how to print your own fabric,” several companies appeared. I chose the first one that popped up—Spoonflower.com—but there are others, such as weaveup.com, fabricondemand.com, designyourfabric.com…the list goes on. I didn’t do any comparing so I have no idea which company is best. 

I have to admit, I’m not very techy, and figuring out file size, pixels, and DPI kind of overwhelms me, so it’s kind of a miracle the fabric turned out.  I didn’t really look at any tutorials or read up on the best way to make fabric—I just took a photo on my iPhone and uploaded it.  

I first had a swatch made, but when it arrived, the colors were too saturated and the fabric quality wasn’t good enough, so I adjusted the saturation and ordered the higher quality fabric.  When the fabric came, the design was bigger than the original design, so I must have pressed something different when I was ordering.  (As I said, I am not very techy!) But this turned out to be a blessing, because the fabric looked AWESOME with the bigger design and there are fewer repeats because of it. 
IMG_9547 swatch made from original size next to final fabric made from  enlarged design

The cost was $17/yard, which seemed pretty reasonable considering it is custom fabric.
Once I had the fabric, I decided to make a shirred top attached to a tiered skirt, since I wanted it to last for years.  (It can become a skirt when she outgrows the dress.) I was thrilled how it came out, and I must say, I don’t think I have ever been more excited to give a present to anyone! 

(ED: I used this pattern for the top of the dress but wanted a fuller, twirlier dress, so I made 3 tiers using a Portabello Pixie pattern that I had and is no longer available.)

When Rebecca told me that Fable was going to dye her hair rainbow, I was even more over the moon, knowing I had made her a dress out of her own rainbow colors. 
IMG_9552 IMG_9553 IMG_8476
Here's a summary of tips from my experience of making fabric:

1.     Research which company works best for what you want to do.  (I used Spoonflower, but I think other companies might have more fabric options.)
2.     Chose a design that will repeat well. (Fable’s original design was perfect to transform into fabric because it was a square and reached all the way to the edges.  Since the design must repeat over and over, it needs to match up well with itself, and the fact that she colored the embossed circles of the paper towel, made this work.) The Spoonflower help center can help you figure out how to repeat your pattern.
3.     Read all of the tips on the website and watch any tutorials if they are available. I didn’t do any of this and am LUCKY.  Spoonflower even has a book to help you get started, which next time I think I would read.
4.     Take a good photo, making sure everything is lined up. Or scan the image. (This is probably preferable.)
5.     Make sure the colors aren’t too saturated.
6.     Follow the step-by-step instructions on the website to create your repeat pattern.
7.     Send for a swatch of fabric to make sure the fabric turns out the way you want.
8.     When you get your swatch, adjust anything that you didn’t like.
9.     Order your fabric and HAVE FUN sewing it into your creation!
We are lucky to live at a time when anyone who has a computer and a creative idea can design their own fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper.  What a dream it was for me to sew a dress using Fable’s own artwork!
Let me know if you have any questions and please share any fabrics you make!

Happy Creating!