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The Stitches & Craft Show :: 4 weeks to go

21 July 2009

Oh. My. Goodness. 4 weeks to go to the show, and I just lost a week. I've actually lost 4 weeks if I'm really counting.

As you know, I had some fabric printed at Spoonflower last month and I was worried about the colour shift. So I decided to try out another digital fabric printer: Karama Kraft. I'm disappointed with the fabric from Karma Kraft, so having been sick for a week I'm now back in the same spot I was in 4 weeks ago with Spoonflower.

The most frustrating thing I've found with my first taste of digital fabric printing is trying to accurately specify colour. Being a graphic designer I am more than familiar with specifying colour, but this whole experience has brought me to tears (literally).

Spoonflower print in LAB colour, and supply an Adobe Swatch Exchange palette to use - but the range of colours in the palette is somewhat limited. And unless you get samples of the colour palette printed by Spoonflower there is no way of knowing how the colurs will print. In email conversations with Spoonflower they've said that colour is the biggest issue for them and their customers, and that they are working on a solution. I had to get my files sent off to Spoonflower by last Friday at the latest, and I sat here at my computer in a flu-induced haze crying about having to guess how my colours would print.

Karma Kraft print using CMYK, and have a 'colour blanket' which you can order to choose your colours from. The colour blanket is a huge (blanket-sized) set of thousands of swatches and their specs printed on fabric, and is a wonderful idea.

In all the images below Karma Kraft fabric is on the left, and Spoonflower on the right. The files were the same (I just converted the colour specs from LAB to CMYK), so you can see the dramatic difference in final colours between the two. I haven't shown the image with the greatest colour shift which was my initial concern with Spoonflower. There was an aqua which printed dark green, and an orange/brown which came out bright yellow/orange.

The colours printed by Spoonflower are solid, but some were way off what I expected. The Karma Kraft colours aren't solid - most of them look pixelated or digitised, and any colour with a percentage of black in it has visible black dots. Generally a lot of the printed colours were almost flourescent (even more so on other areas of my fabric, not shown here). You can see from the images above the lack of definition in the Karma Kraft samples.

Spoonflower's fabric is a crisp quilting weight cotton, and is off white/very pale cream. They don't have a wide choice at the moment, but they are going to expand the fabric range soon.
The fabric from Karma Kraft is a very soft, thick, almost brushed cotton, in bright white. I'm no expert, but I think that the brushed surface might have a negative impact on the definition and clarity of line and images. They also wash the fabric after it's printed, so it was very creased and would need a good steam to get it looking presentable. Karma Kraft have quite a good selection of fabrics to choose from.

So the result is that I will stick with Spoonflower - at least for my current needs. Karma Kraft may be suitable to use for other types of projects.

In other news of preparation my trusty wee assistant and I have been painting a dolls house which I'll use for displaying my things. I bought the dolls house kit when Roxy was about 2, and since she showed no interest in dolls or dolls houses it's been sitting in the attic. But she is so excited about the things I am making for the show, and about the dolls house, that she really really wants it now!

Boy, that little picket fence is a fiddly thing to paint - don't be impressed by Roxy doing it in the photo... she did half of one section then gave up and moved onto the house.

I tested a few colours in the various rooms, but I haven't settled on anything yet. Although I do quite like the whitewash effect of the undercoat! I don't think I'm brave enough to go for brights, I'm leaning towards 50s/60s pastels at the moment.

So as you can see, I'm moving in the right direction. Just slowly, slowly...