Oct 1, 2012

Guest Post! Amy's Advice on Creating Your Own Print

I am soooooooo excited today to present Beau Baby's first ever guest poster, my friend Amy! This summer we worked together on creating the perfect dress for her to wear to a wedding-like event in Scotland this Fall. Amy created her own print using Spoonflower.com, which I used to sew a custom-fit bombshell dress. The results were amazing, and some of you wanted to hear more about how she turned a photo into a super special print. (Keep in mind, neither of us is sponsored by Spoonflower, though we wouldn't turn down free fabric if it's being offered!). Amy's tutorial below kinda blew my mind; now I know how easy it is to turn a photo into a completely unique print — that in no way resembles the original photo. I didn't think I had the skills to do something like this. But now I think we all do. So read on!

Greetings Beau Baby blog followers! 

I offered to do a guest a post to discuss the design process for my fabric. Full disclosure: I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to using Photoshop or Illustrator (I had been known to be slightly drunk during my graphics design class in my undergrad program), so my process here was somewhat inartful and crude. But the good news is that Spoonflower seems to be aware of that and has really simple and user-friendly tools to help inexperienced, somewhat lazy people like myself.

Originally I wanted to do a solid color, and Sue suggested a print and keeping the design simple. Since her print choice on her dress looked great, I thought this was an excellent direction to go in. Picking a print would have been tricky and prolonged given the Atlantic between me and Sue; I could look for prints in London but would need to send her samples for her to okay the print size and the fabric type, or she would have looked in NY and then had to send things over to me to approve in terms of my tastes. I started looking at a million prints online to send her things that I was really into, and ended up at Spoonflower. I stumbled into the bit where you make your own design and immediately all the Project Runway HP design challenges flashed into my mind like some sort of dreamy Mondo-led montage. I really like making things as personal as possible, so I started looking at the photos I took in Prague, where Lewis and I met 5 years ago. 

Here are the two photos that seemed to have some interesting design potential.

The first one is the astronomical clock, which is pretty famous in Prague and really beautiful. The other one is some church. 

Once you have a Spoonflower account, you can upload various file types.

Once uploaded, you can crop the photo in their embedded photo editor, Picmonkey. You can also crop it beforehand in picasa or whatever. It's good to play around with this because the larger the image file is, the more flexibility have in terms of size of the print later. PNG files are best. Spoonflower will stop letting you make the print size bigger when they know that blowing it up any more will make it look gross.

You can also play around with the colors a bit. I wanted the gold to be brighter and more orangey but the big risk for fall colors is looking like a pumpkin. 

I started with this:

and got it more like this:

Here's the main editor in Spoonflower:

On the right, you have choices on how to pattern the print. "Mirror" usually works best if it's a cropped photo. Otherwise, you need to line things up properly when you design them.

The thing I really like here is that you can abstract the image a bit using the color palette. Notice how there are 4 colors at the bottom of the screen. And in the menu to the left it says "CHANGE COLORS." You can make it only 2 colors, or up to 24 or something. This is nice because it makes it look like color blocking or paint. So it's more like a print and less like a photo that you scanned on a tee shirt. You can also totally alter the color scheme from what it is originally in the photo to match your aesthetic and season. 

Here were some of the runner-ups to the one I ultimately ended up choosing.

 Some parents use Spoonflower to take their kids' drawings and make clothing out of the prints they create. I think that's such a lovely way to showcase your kids' art and make them feels special beyond the magnets on your fridge. Spoonflower is also doing wallpaper now. Pretty neat.

Ordering and shipping was very easy. It's always recommended that you order a swatch first to check colors, etc. This really worked for me and Sue given our distance - I ordered it from London on my computer and had it shipped directly to her house!

Hope this helped. I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments section.


  1. Oh no. Am I the only one who can't see any of the pictures?

    1. Really? They're loading when I go to the post. Maybe it's just taking a moment because there are so many?

  2. I can't see the photos either. I've tried multiple times since the post went up, and they're not there.

    1. I redid all the photos...can anyone check for me and see if works on their computer?

  3. Photos look great! What a cool guest post!



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