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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that I have a JPG repeat that I can upload into my Spoonflower design library.
Once the file is uploaded into my Spoonflower design library, I can select the repeat in the Sprout design palette for my Ezra shorts.
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!
I love the way the planet pattern looks printed on Kona cotton! The colors looks great!
Sewing the Ezra shorts was so easy, just stitch up a few seams, hem, and throw in a drawstring.
I even used one of my Artemis tapes as the drawstring for an extra special touch.
There you go! Here’s Jacob lounging around on campus in his new pair of Ezra shorts! Looking good, Jacob!
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.