Designing Your Own Clothing with Sprout

Today we are featuring Taiwanese Spoonflower designer and Sprout customer, Canigrin Chen. She shares her experience on Sprout as well as making the Laurel Dress by Colette Patterns.

Hello! My name is Canigrin Chen and I’m an illustrator living in Taiwan. I love creating repeat patterns, and always wanted to make my own fabric. So when I found Spoonflower, I totally fell in love with the idea that you can print your own fabric even just a very small order.

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I love that you can even choose the material from cotton, knit to silk. The variety of fabric allow you to make home decor stuff and even sports wear, which gives endless possibility for making my own product.

 
It’s a thrill to me as a creator and a maker that I can easily make my own products. I use Spoonflower to print my own fabric and sew it into apron, mittens, and even throw pillows. But after a few craft projects, I soon hoped that I can even sew my own dress with my design!

 

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I bought some books about making simple dresses, but the biggest challenge is tracing the patterns, I guess it’s the hardest part to cross. I did use a big frozen paper to trace and copy the pattern onto my fabric, as all of you may have tried. But it just frustrating when the dress doesn’t fit after all the hard work, just because of paper slips sometimes. The time I spent on tracing was way more than what I spent on the making of the dress.

 

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Then Spoonflower announced a new service called Sproutpatterns, which allow you to make your own dress with pattern printed on fabric of your choice. Boom!  What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I thought of it? It made making my own clothing as simple as playing with a paper doll. Simply cutting the fabric pieces and put them together, and you’re done!

 

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Creating Sprout Patterns project is just a few clicks. The 3D model made it a lot easier to imagine your dream dress! The best thing is it’s almost the same price as you order plain fabric (without seeing pattern printed on it) on Spoonflower, plus a copy of free PDF pattern than you can make more dresses and different sizes. But the experience of Sprout is so good that I was too spoiled to trace that pattern again.

 

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I chose the Laurel dress this time (first time I made the Moneta dress), as it’ll be a great gift for my mom. She’s a banker and I hope she’ll wear my handmade dress to work so I chose poly crepe fabric with the cuff variation. One thing about Sprout Patterns is that it seems like they have just a few patterns, but there are many variations hiding in each dress.

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A dress with cuffs or long sleeves makes it totally different, plus the fabrics you choose. The possibilities are endless! I think my choice of poly crepe fabric suits well for my navy camo surface design. The colors are vibrant and the touch is soft. I love how it’s lightweight, so suitable for summer time and I have the ability to layer so you can wear it every season.

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You can choose any design on Spoonflower to create your unique dress. Sprout even allows you to use different designs on different parts of the dress. For the Laurel dress I was making, the cuff is where I made changes. Some patterns give more flexibility and freedom to be your own fashion designer. Mix and match until you like it.

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The Laurel dress took me about 3 days to make. The invisible zipper was the biggest challenge, and I modified the design by making my own bias tape.  Both took more time than I expected to make, but I am satisfied with the outcome.

 

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Even though I’m in Asia, I used this service because it’s unique. Here we have some merchandisers who offer customized fabric printing service, but the minimum order has to be 20 yards of a single design. It’s not affordable nor does any of this service provide fabrics like cotton or other fabrics that are suitable for wearing. I just love creating surface design so thanks Sprout Patterns for making it easier for me to have my own dress!

 


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Canigrin is a dreamer, a maker and a creator living in Taipei, Taiwan. She shares her bright and colorful working process on Instagram and Facebook.

Wearing Pajamas to Work: Father’s Day Edition

In honor of Father’s Day, we’d like to tell you a little bit about a Spoonflower employee and father of two girls, who wears pajamas to work.

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Meet Donnie Gulledge. A Dad who wears pajamas to work.

Don is a third shift printer at Spoonflower, and an awesome one at that – he won Employee of the Month in March this year for his amazing attitude and dedication to helping his team. He’s also a pretty cool dad—he and his two daughters produce their own podcast each week called “The Three in a Pod Show”. It’s funny, endearing, and an insightful glimpse into what it’s like to be the single dad of two teenage girls.

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Don and his daughters, Raquel and Victoria

As one of our favorite Dads, we asked Don to share some of this thoughts about fatherhood.

What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
“The hardest thing about being a dad is knowing when to just listen and let go. It’s hard to NOT want to fix every problem your children have. A lot of times they just want someone to listen. If they need advice they’ll let you know but, most of the time they just need your ears. It’s a gradual process for me but, I’m getting there.”

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I’m sure there are a million things you’ve taught your girls. What’s the one thing you hope they remember as they get older?
“I tell my daughters all of the time to be leaders. I don’t say that in the sense of being a tyrant wanting to dominate and belittle people but, I say that to remind them that being considerate of others feelings and showing compassion automatically makes you a leader because you get to teach. The standards of today make people feel like they’re better than others. By being a compassionate person you indirectly teach compassion to others, and people respect you when you’re genuinely a good person. Being a teacher is being a leader.”

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In addition to making The Three in a Pod Show, what are you and your daughters’ favorite things to do together?
“My daughters and I love to travel and we dream of seeing the world together… well, maybe I dream of seeing the world with them. Outside of that, our lives are pretty basic. We like art, movies, music , and shopping.”

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Tell us more about the podcast:
“We just like having fun. I like to think that my daughters and I have a really interesting dynamic. We are extremely open and forward with each other no matter what the subject is. Our podcasts are basically short stories in audio format to document our daily interactions with each other, albeit they’re weekly. Sometimes things get serious and we have to figure it out together. Most of the time we’re just being random and crazy. We’re three completely different personalities but, we’re very similar.”

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Not only does Don make time each week to work full time in the Spoonflower print room, be a father to his girls,  run a podcast + blog, and ride his bike everywhere in Durham, but he also somehow found the time to model for Sprout! After he let us snap some photos of his Jasper Pajamas, we asked him if he’d be making any other projects anytime soon.

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You can also make a pair of these sweet lounge pants for the awesome dad (or anyone!) in your life. If you’re in love with this design, Don’s PJ’s are available as a project  Hanging Around), on Sprout Patterns and feature an amazing sloth design by Andrea Lauren. Perfect for any given Lazy Sunday.

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Sprout wishes a Happy (and comfy) Father’s Day to Don, and to all dads everywhere!

DIY: Handmade + Built to Last

Today’s guest Blogger, Katie Allen, is part of the Sprout Patterns team.


Do you have a favorite craft that you do just because you love it, something that helps you recharge?  I’m one of the engineers here at Sprout, and while I have a lot of fun writing code all day, sometimes it’s nice to turn away from my computer screen and work on something handmade and tangible.  In the evenings, it’s really hard to decide whether to pull out my woodcarving tools or sit down at my sewing machine.

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I’ve loved making things all my life, but a pivotal moment in my development as an artist and maker was the summer I spent at the John C. Campbell Folk School in 2012.  When I first saw their course catalog, I wanted to take every class that they offered!  I was accepted for their work-study program: in exchange for several weeks of helping out on campus, I got to take three classes.

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It was tough to narrow down my choices to just three.  Enamel jewelry and leather shoemaking were incredible, but my favorite class was definitely marquetry.  I fell in love with the (rather involved) process of creating pictures from thin sheets of wood veneer.  For my first project, I made a portrait of one of my favorite baby goats.  This panel became the lid of my very first dovetail box.
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It can be tricky to get fine detail with the marquetry saw.  As my skills grew, I began creating special portraits for friends.  One photo I took of a piece in progress really grabbed my attention, so when I began working at Spoonflower, I created a fun repeat pattern from it. In the design, you can see the different wood grains used and the gap in the wood where I had just cut out a tiny silhouette.

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Beyond the skills learned from the classes, the Folk School is just a magical place.  The sense of community there is strong (like at Sprout and Spoonflower!) and everyone there appreciates fine craftsmanship and the time it takes to make something that will last.  When my favorite teacher announced that he was teaching a class in two weeks, I immediately planned my second trip to the mountains to attend!

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As I was gathering my favorite tools and packing my things for my weeklong adventure, I found the time to stitch up a Colette Patterns Laurel Blouse from Sprout with my marquetry design.  I knew that I’d be seeing a lot of old friends who would ask what I was up to these days, and I was excited to show off a Sprout pattern.  I always love wearing things that I’ve sewed myself, but what made this shirt extra special was the fact that it featured a design based on the skills I’d learned the first time I was there.

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When looking at the size chart, my measurements actually fit the size 6, but I chose a size 8 since the blouse does not have closures and I wanted it to be a little looser so it would easily pull over my head. (Also, I’d tried on a size 8 from our sample closet before, and I really liked the way it fit.)   A fun Sprout hack for the Laurel would be to create a split in the center back seam about 6 inches down from the top, and put a tiny button & loop at the neck…but that’s a project for another day.

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Since the trip was a couple days away at this point, I didn’t have as much time as usual to sew up my top. I probably wouldn’t have attempted to fit in a sewing project if it wasn’t a Sprout pattern, all ready to be cut out.  I realized at the last minute that I hadn’t printed out the PDF version for dart placement, so I improvised and created my darts by pinning them directly on my body. It turned out really well!

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I wore my Laurel at the Folk School on the second day of my woodworking class, when I was planing and scraping the top of the coffee table I was building.   My table began as a 10 foot long piece of cherry.  Using hand and power tools, we cut and shaped the wood into tables with mortise-and-tenon joinery.  It was amazing to go from a huge board to a piece of furniture in just a week.

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Throughout the week, I wore some of my other Sprout clothes, like my Hey June Handmade Sloan Leggings with a baby goat design.  Other students would comment on the interesting prints and were amazed that not only had I sewed the clothes myself, but I’d created the surface designs as well.

There were some late nights in the shop, but I ended the class with a beautiful table that will certainly be the centerpiece of my living room someday.  It is nice to have a piece that is not only of higher quality than something I could find or afford at a furniture store, but also has the memories of a magical week of fun and learning built right into it.


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Katie is an artist, an engineer for Sprout Patterns, and a developer at Spoonflower. Her latest adventure has been learning Ruby on Rails. With a background in sculpture and costuming, if she isn’t sewing, she’s building dovetail boxes in the wood shop. She also loves hiking, contra dancing, Iyengar yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

Interview with Adrianna of Hey June Handmade

Today’s interview is with the beautiful and very talented Adrianna—the owner and designer behind Hey June Handmade. She has three young daughters who were the inspiration for her to start sewing, co-writing a blog, and eventually venture into selling her own patterns. At Sprout  we carry the Biscyane Blouse, the Aurora Tee, the Lane Raglan and the oh-so-awesome Sloan Leggings and Paneled Sloan Leggings. She also has many more patterns on her site that you should definitely take a gander at. We love Adriana and are so happy she’s part of the Sprout Patterns Family!


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1. What led you to wanting to start designing your own patterns?

I think my original impetus was the fact that I was already making patterns for my own kids, and since I had three I only had to fill in a couple sizes to make a fully graded pattern. From day one when I started sewing I was always much more interested in the technical aspects of it and the patterns than the design/decorative side of things. I’m very left-brained and enjoy math and technical software, so this was a perfect fit.

This is why I love my customers and the sewing community, because I’ll make the most simple pattern and call it a day and then they will take it and make it into a creative art piece with their fabric pairings and decorative features like applique, stencil, iron-ons, trim, and pattern hacking. My brain doesn’t do that kind of thing naturally!

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Sloan Galaxy Leggings from Sprout Patterns

2. From your first inspiration for a new pattern to release how long does the process typically take?

That depends. My first pattern took 8 months because I was also teaching myself the software and I had a newborn. Lately it’s about 2 months. I could probably bring that down a little bit but I’m pretty anal about my patterns and I like to have a longer test period to really hash out the issues and allow for redrafts. Also I illustrate all my directions so that takes several days.

I hope to be able to produce patterns slightly quicker or at least with more regularity, but you’ll never see me push them out in a week or two.  Once you see the testing call for a new pattern, you can be assured that I’ve been working on it behind the scenes for at least 6 weeks.

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The new Charleston Dress pattern made with Sew Caroline’s Chalk and Paint fabric

3. Have you ever started creating a new pattern then just completely abandoned it?

Yes, absolutely. I have two even sitting on my cutting table right now. There have been many various reasons. One time another designer released an identical pattern at the same time (that was a very bitter pill to swallow as I was almost completely finished and planned to release that week. I morphed that design and it became the Edelweiss, which I love, so it’s ok. I won’t do that again though because I think there’s plenty of room on the market for similar designs!). I’ve quit work on two patterns because I’m too slow and the seasons changed, but I’ll probably revisit those.  I also stopped working on one because I didn’t think the style or fit were very universal – it would’ve only fit a fairly specific body shape.

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The simple to sew and awesome to wear Lane Raglan

4. How would one get into learning how to draft patterns?

I bought some pattern drafting books and some textbooks (the ones by Aldrich are decent and available on Amazon) and read them cover to cover several times.  I also spent hours on the internet researching before I even began.  I wasn’t actively working toward being a pattern designer at the time, but now I see that all of that research and trial and error made it much easier to naturally morph into this line of work.  Pattern drafting was always fascinating to me, so even if I wasn’t sewing anything at the time, I’d get on the computer and think, hm, I wonder how you would even make a collar like that!  Then I’d look it up and I’d compare it with my drafting books to figure it out.

Eventually, the math and physics behind drafting starts to make sense and you can predict what needs to be done to draft a garment or solve a fit issue.  I recommend something very simple to start with, like making your own perfect tee shirt pattern.  There are virtual classes for drafting on websites like Craftsy that you can take, and several local quilt shops also offer classes in beginning drafting.

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5. There seems to be a saturation of sewing bloggers (and really talented ones), pattern makers, fabric sellers, etc. How would someone enter the “sewing world” and differentiate? What is the sewing community lacking that it doesn’t have now?

Oooh that’s a good and very tough question. I don’t know if I can speak very much to the differentiation bit – I think you just need to let your true self shine through in your blog posts/designs. People (me included) really like transparency and feeling like they’re seeing the real person behind the brand. In terms of just getting started, I would do all the obvious things – join individual pattern designers’ groups and make their stuff and post like crazy in the group. Post finished projects from patterns on your blog and then blow up social media with links. Start doing hacks or tutorials for altering the patterns and then you can eventually approach bigger bloggers or designers to do guest posts or be a part of blog tours. In terms of what the sewing community is lacking…geez. that’s tough. If you find it, you’ll probably have success!

Allie is doing something amazing with IndieSew and providing a one stop shop for really quality indie sewing patterns for women. Before she did that, there were other reseller sites, but nothing quite the same. If there’s something in particular that really interests you, delve deep into that niche. A few that come to mind from the past that started out as fun ideas and turned into big events or even their own websites are Kids Clothes Week, Sew Geeky, Spring Top Week, Sew the Show, and Film Petit.