Sprout and a Girl’s Best Friend

Today’s Guest Blogger is Heather Dutton, the creative genius behind Hang Tight Studio. Besides being one of the nicest people we know, Heather is also a longtime Spoonflower designer! We asked Heather to create a special Harley Dog Jacket for her fur baby, Gracie Mae. Mutual dog lover, Caroline, sewed it up for her in warm and snuggly fleece.


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I’m not only beautiful, I’m also warm and cozy!

Two of the big loves in my life are designing patterns and my sweet Sussex Spaniel Gracie Mae. Being able to combine those two things & create a custom dog jacket for her made me wiggle with happiness 🙂

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Shelter dog Prince models the Harley Jacket, also in fleece

The first time I saw the Sprout dog jacket pattern I immediately fell in love with it. Winters in Maine can be brutal and Gracie definitely needs a little extra help staying warm on our morning beach walks.

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Mom, it’s cold on this beach!

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what kind of design I wanted to create for her jacket. I wanted the pattern to be something that reflected her fun personality and I wanted it to make me smile as much as she does.

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Baby Gracie. Winning cuteness awards globally

We were at the beach for our morning walk one day & that’s when I had my Ah Ha design moment.

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Where did that bird go!

Gracie’s totally in her element when we’re there and it’s the one place where all of her favorite things come together… Chasing birdies, swimming, playing frisbee, catching balls, getting cookies and shamelessly asking for belly rubs from all of her beach friends. It’s doggie nirvana! How cool would it be to have a design that celebrates my sweet girl?!

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I WILL find that bird!

When we got back from our walk I quickly grabbed some paper & started sketching Gracie doing all of her favorite things. I had a perma smile on my face the whole time 🙂 She’s such a character and it was so much fun to try to capture all of her silly poses and tail wags.

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Gracie Mae’s favorite things

When I was done sketching I scanned all of my drawings into my computer & started working on re-illustrating everything in Adobe Illustrator.

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After a little bit of playing around with the repeat & picking colors that would look extra cute with her red hair, my new “Gracie Mae Dog Days” design was done! I knew that the Sprout dog jacket had designs on the inside & outside of the coat so I created a fun stylized dog bone pattern to coordinate with the main print and give the jacket an extra pop of color.

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Ok, time for cookies and belly rubs!

This was the first time that I’d used Sprout & I can’t say enough amazing things about them! The whole process was incredibly easy & I’ve already started a wish list for other patterns that I want to try out! Gracie’s new jacket fits her perfectly (thanks to Caroline’s canine tailoring!) & I have to admit I had a little bit of coat envy. The fleece is so soft & snuggly, she’s probably going to be warmer than I am when we’re on our walks. One things for sure… she’s going to be the talk of the beach this winter & all of her friends are going to flip over her new jacket! Thanks so much Caroline and Sprout!


Heather.jpgHeather Dutton is an imaginative designer with a passion for pattern and color. After receiving a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Heather began her career as a fashion designer in San Francisco, combining her sense of style with her love for textiles. In 2000, she said goodbye to the world of fashion design and launched Hang Tight Studio, an innovative surface design studio.

Today, Heather runs a successful business, creating commissioned & licensed surface designs for companies across the U.S. and Europe. She’s been fortunate to work with a list of exceptional companies including Pottery Barn, Smith & Hawken, Tupperware, Real Simple, O.R.E, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and IMGS Custom Wallcoverings.

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In a Galaxy not so far away…

Today’s guest blogger is Allison Bowles, the patternmaker behind Artemis Clothing Co. and a pajama-maker extraordinaire. Her blog post is all about using Adobe Illustrator to create a repeating design for her Ezra pajamas, using outer space as her inspiration.


If you are like me, you love getting crafty when it comes to gifting. Sprout Patterns takes my gift crafting to the next level by letting me customize projects with my own prints so it’s super personal and I know it’s something that my friends will love.  My friend Jacob loves all things space; he is always telling me the latest stories in space exploration. I felt especially inspired by the recent Perseid meteor shower, so space it was for the design!

I typically use Adobe Illustrator to create my prints because I find it very versatile.  So for this tutorial, I’ll be using Illustrator to create my surface print.

The very first thing I do when I am making a repeating pattern in Illustrator is to find some inspiration photos. Since I was making space themed Ezra shorts I needed to find a great space motif for my pattern repeat. This photo of all the planets was my reference point and Saturn’s colorful rings were my inspiration for the color palette.

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When using Illustrator, I first need to prepare my workspace.  Once the program is open, I create an artboard that is exact size that I want my repeat to be.  I am going to start with a 5” x 5” square and make adjustments as needed as I go.  I also want to pull in my inspiration photos to the workspace so I can see everything around the artboard.

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Next, I need a color palette.  I love the bright blues and pinks in this photo of Saturn’s rings and I think it would be a wonderful color palette for the Ezra shorts.  To make the palette I need to select the color palette icon on the right toolbar.  Then I create a new color group by selecting the folder icon at the bottom of the color palette window.  I can use the eyedropper tool to select colors directly from my color inspiration photo and add to the color group.  Here I’ve selected a range of blues and greens from the photo as well as a few of the pinks for some color pops.

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After I have a color palette I can begin drawing the motifs, which in this case is going to be each of the planets in the solar system.  For each planet I’m using a combination of the shapes tools and the pen tools to create a very basic outline of each planet.

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After I’ve outlined all of the planets that I want to use, I can add color from my color palette using the color fill tool, which is the paint bucket icon on the left tool bar.  I want to make sure that I stick to colors that I have selected from the color group so that everything looks cohesive.

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Now that I have a bunch of planets drawn I can begin to place them in my 5” by 5” artboard to create the pattern repeat.  First I want to give the repeat a background color by creating a 5” x 5” square right on top of my arboard.  Since I’m working with an outer space theme I am going to choose a dark color for my background.  I think this dark, slightly-navy gray will really make the bright planets pop really well.

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Now I can move the planets around on the artboard so that they are spaced out well and fill up enough space in the repeat. I like the way these are positioned, but I still have a lot of negative space that needs to be filled.

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I’m going to fill some of that negative space by creating small starbursts to put in the background.  I think the starburst shape will contrast nicely with the larger planets. I’ve placed just a few in the largest voids since I don’t want to over do it.

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Once I have all  of my motifs placed the way I like I’m ready to use the pattern tool.  This is a very powerful tool in the newer versions of illustrator that allows me to put my motif in different types of repeats very quickly and easily.  You can find the pattern tool in the options tab of the top toolbar.  Scroll over the pattern option and select “Make.”

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I love that this tool allows me to preview all kinds of repeat tiling before I have to commit to one.  I can even adjust each element while I am working in the pattern repeat.  So if I decide I need to slide one of the planets over a little or change a color I can do that in this window and see the total effect it has on the repeated pattern.  I am going to select “brick by column” from the tile type drop down menu, as I think a ⅔ repeat offset works well for this pattern.

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Once I have selected the tiling that I like best I simply close the window and Illustrator automatically adds the repeat to my swatch palette. As a final step, I want to check the new swatch for any repeat errors, like pixel lines or shapes that have been cut off, so I am going to create a large square and fill it with my swatch.

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I can see from the pattern fill that everything looks good, so now I am ready to prepare the repeat to upload to Spoonflower. Since I changed the tiling of my repeat with the pattern tool, I need to use the new swatch tile instead of the original repeat that I was working with before.  I can easily do this by dragging the new swatch out of the swatch palette into the workspace.

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Now that I have the new repeat in my workspace, I want to create a new artboard that is the exact same dimension as the rectangle that surrounds my repeat.  Then, I am going to add the background color back in the same way that I did in the original repeat pattern.

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Ok, I am ready to export this new repeat pattern. Keep in mind as you work, that Spoonflower accepts JPG, TIFF, GIF, or PNG files. I want to make sure the “use artboards” option is checked at the bottom of the dialogue box so that the artboard that I set up as my repeat creates the boundary for the repeat tile.

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Now that I have a JPG repeat that I can upload into my Spoonflower design library.

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Once the file is uploaded into my Spoonflower design library, I can select the repeat in the Sprout design palette for my Ezra shorts.

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The coolest thing about making a Sprout project is the 3D simulation of my garment.   I can see exactly what my print will look like on the Ezra shorts before it is ever printed!  I think it looks pretty good!

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I love the way the planet pattern looks printed on Kona cotton!  The colors looks great!

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Sewing the Ezra shorts was so easy, just stitch up a few seams, hem, and throw in a drawstring.

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I even used one of my Artemis tapes as the drawstring for an extra special touch.

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There you go! Here’s Jacob lounging around on campus in his new pair of Ezra shorts! Looking good, Jacob!


artemis_headshot.jpgAllison Bowles is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, where she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree studying zero­ waste garment design. She founded Artemis Clothing Co. in 2014 after working in the textile industry for several years and realizing that she wanted to focus on locally ­made sustainable clothing.

Allison Bowles is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, where she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree studying zero­ waste garment design. She founded Artemis Clothing Co. in 2014 after working in the textile industry for several years and realizing that she wanted to focus on locally ­made sustainable clothing.Extra-photo-5.jpgSave

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