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February 12, 2013


Valerie (Kyriosity)

Great tutorial! I'm surprised there are no questions in the comments, but in case you'd still like some, I have a couple:

1) Even though Spoonflower doesn't have any recommended repeat sizes, are there industry standards or guidelines for consumer expectations of repeat sizes?

2) Must repeats always be in squares, or are other rectangles proportions acceptable (either on Spoonflower or in fabric printing in general)?

3) You've shown or described several basic types of fabric repeats: square (basic), half-drop, half-brick, and mirrored. Are there any others that Spoonflower doesn't offer?


pamela farmer

Hi Valerie,

Thanks so much for your comment! I'll answer your questions as best I can.

(1) Repeat sizes vary by industry. In both the apparel and home fashions industries, the most common printing method is rotary screen printing. A rotary screen is 25.248", but the repeat can be a fraction of that, for example 12.624" for a medium size repeat, or 6.312" for a small one.

Meanwhile, other industries may use flat bed screens which come in 30", 32" and 36" sizes. And the quilting industry uses 24" repeats.

2) Repeats need not be in squares. The vertical size of the repeat must always fit the size of the printing technology that the manufacturer is using, but the horizontal size ("side repeat") can be any size that best suits the size of the motifs. In fact, generally the only patterns that are in square repeats are stripes, simple dots and the like. Otherwise the repeat becomes too obvious. Most other patterns are in half-drop repeat. This goes for commercial printing, and Spoonflower alike.

3) There are other types of repeats that I didn't discuss, such as border prints, in which the design is "railroaded." It's turned at 90 degrees, and printed parallel to the selvedge edges of the fabric. But of course, the vertical repeat sizes of the roller or screen must still be adhered to in the length of the border repeats.

Spoonflower prints digitally, so they can print any size that will fit on the fabric. In this way, they (and other digital printers) are actually much more flexible than large volume printers!

If you're interested, there are several good books on textile design for the novice available now. One I can highly recommend is "A Field Guide to Fabric Design" by Kim Kight. http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Fabric-Design-Traditional/dp/1607053551/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378144196&sr=8-1&keywords=kim+kight

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting!


Valerie (Kyriosity)

Thanks so much, Pamela for your helpful responses! After a lifetime of various crafting and artistic endeavors, I was seized a couple of days ago with a mad passion to design fabric. Knowing how many of my mad passions never come to fruition (and knowing my current unemployed status), I'm determined not to invest any cash in it before I've invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears...and before am assured that they will be mostly tears of joy. So within the last 48 hours I've been drawing and researching like crazy, making notes, and mentally planning an entire line of designs. We'll see what happens next!

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