The Learning Curve

Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in Blog, Learning

A few things about working with a fabric house:

thing 1: I can happily say that there seems to be a huge amount of artistic license given to the designer. Fabric companies want something new & fresh. They don’t want formulaic work. They don’t want you to be stuck in a tight style that becomes predictable. Creativity and individual voice are applauded. There are, I’m sure, limits to this, but so far, so good. I’m still trying to feel out my position in the relationship. Building a rapport seems to be key. Everything can be discussed. Want to add another colour way? Go for it. Feel strongly about a certain colour staying in a design? Express that opinion. After all, your name will be on it. Things may have to be eliminated down the road prior to production, but decisions will be made together.

thing 2: Know the repeat size. I now know that everything must work within a 24″ vertical repeat. Repeat sizes can be any number that divides equally into this 24″ (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 or 24″). I will now always keep this in mind when designing anything new. Saves time down the road.

thing 3: Don’t go crazy with the colour!!!!! I’ve just spent 4 days doing “pitch sheets” for 2 collections. I, who LOVE colour, am, quite frankly, a tad tired of it today. This is a little section of what my desk looked like at the beginning of the process.

Because there is a limit to the number of screens that the mill uses (19 in this case, but they prefer you stick to 17), one needs to carefully pick colours. In my case with the very first collection I wanted to focus on, this was a stressful task. I started out trying hard to not think of each of the colours I was eliminating as one of my children. By today, however, I was willing to give those kids away to anyone who would take them. Anything to get this process over & done with. I tried to be meticulous. I will keep my fingers crossed.

thing 4: There is a good stretch of time (probably about 6 months) before the fabric will be on the shelf of your local fabric store. Once all the original designs are finalized & all the original colour analysis is done, it is all sent to the mill. They will make the screens & do a first strike off of all the patterns which will be sent back to the fabric house & back to me. We will make decisions about which colours need to be tweaked or changed & the process will start again. This can happen a number of times until things are just right. Then production starts. This is very reassuring when starting out, as I am unsure if my colour choices will print the way I envision.

thing 5: I will be the recipient of close to 20 yards of each and every pattern & colour way that is produced. That means that in a few months, it will be GIVEAWAY TIME! Stay tuned.


  1. Patty Rybolt
    October 23, 2012

    I love that you are keeping your blog friends up to date on your progress. I’m a fan of your designs on Spoonflower (congrats on the creepy cocktail hour win), good luck on your journey!!

  2. Helen Serrao
    October 23, 2012

    am loving learning about the process of designing, rejigging the whole thing until all is just right…….. please continue to keep us all informed of just what you have to go through to create the perfect design……….. love give aways!

  3. PinkSodaPop
    October 24, 2012

    Love all of your designs, and hearing you speak about your experiences with designing professionally, is very entertaining to me!

    I look forward to seeing your give aways, and much more about your journey into the realm of licensed textile designing!

    Happy Computing & Happy Creating! – PinkSodaPop


  4. Caitlin
    October 26, 2012

    Sounds exactly right! It will be amazing how far those 17 colors can go ;)!