Hand Printed Fabric

Since I’ve started working on 1, 2, 3 Quilt, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (obsessing) about fabric. While I love many of the designer fabrics on the market, I worry about using them in a book that won’t come out for another year, when the fabrics will be gone from stores and left as a distant trend memory from 2012. I’d really like to see more fabric companies put out basic lines with lasting designs. When I’m making a quilt, I don’t want to look back on it in 10 years and remember the fabric collection or designer, but rather the design and love that went into the quilt’s making. This is certainly not to knock designer fabric, especially since I have my own collection coming out in a few months! But I wonder if this is a sustainable way to market fabric. It seems to me that the market is saturated and we’re constantly inundated with new collections. I just wonder if there is a better way.

Anyway, this week I thought I’d share some of the fabrics I’m using in the book. I love hand printed fabrics. Love the texture, the imperfect quality and the hand of the maker that went into the process. Above are some fabrics from Summersville, Bespoke Uprising, one I printed myself and a few from Home Sweet (one of my new sponsors). I’m still collecting fabrics for the book and hand printed fabrics are on the top of my list, though obviously more expensive. So I cherish every scrap! My Quilt Blocks collection was definitely influenced by hand printed fabrics. Many of the designs are a single color printed on a white background and all of them have a degree of imperfection. I designed the entire collection with perfectly straight lines and symmetry, then went back and changed it all to make it imperfect, giving it a more handmade feel.

Here are some of my other Etsy favorite shops for handmade fabric, both block and screen printed:

Aunty Cookie

Blueberry Ash

Melissa Bombardiere


Umbrella Prints

1014 Organic Textiles

Workroom Social

Sarah Waterhouse

And I love to search Etsy for hand-printed tea towels. You can read my post here about printing your own fabrics with some basic methods that anyone can do at home.

Oh, and I also wanted to include this photo from 1, 2, 3 Sew of the Set The Table Runner. This is perhaps my favorite photo from the book. Photo by Laura Malek. Fabric by Jenny of Home Sweet. She is offering a 15% discount to readers of The Long Thread. Simply enter the code “longthread” at checkout.

11 comments to Hand Printed Fabric

  • I can relate to your post and the challenges of working with trendy prints for a book. As a shop owner it’s frustrating to think of the short shelf life many fabrics have – there are constantly new lines and it’s too much to keep up with (perhaps why I prefer Japanese lines, which have a year long shelf life, or longer for the dots and stripes). Thanks for sharing those shop links, I found some new favorites today! There are two other hand-printed shops you might like, mazeandvale and skinnylaminx both at etsy.

  • thelongthread

    Thanks, Laura! Yes, it must be tough as a shop owner.

    And yes, I love Heather Moore’s shop. And Maze and Vale looks great too — new to me. I’ve included the links here:

    Skinny Laminx

    Maze and Vale

  • I was looking for fabric for clothing the other day and found that there was not much available apart from solids or the current trends – but as someone who will wear the same outfit for years on end, I usually want something that is more timeless. Still, one of my main considerations does still have to be cost.

    (ps. I love that runner)

  • I try to mix up the sources I use for fabric. There isn’t much designer fabric available locally (in Montreal, Qc, Can), so if something in particular tickles my fancy I will order it from Etsy, otherwise I browse my local fabric shops (great for solids and dots lately, otherwise it’s mostly more traditional patterns that are available). I have also been recycling a lot of fabric, either from older family members who are no longer sewing and giving away their stash, or from clothing that is no longer useful in it’s current form. I find that by varying the source of my fabric I can get away from an over designer quilt, and bring some more traditional elements (reusing cloth, making do with what you’ve got) into my less traditionally designed quilts. Plus it’s pretty awesome to look at quilt and think “gee, there’s the fabric from that awesome pair of pants that don’t fit well anymore!”.

  • Tee

    I agree with you on your well written points, I’m new to quilting and have enjoyed all the “new & designer” fabrics but I also started sewing clothes for myself and my son in the late 60’s early 70’s and I enjoyed that I could find timeless fabrics. I too struggle when planning a quilt for my grandchildren not to place fabrics that may be too “trendy” I want her to enjoy it now at 13 years old, college days and then when she has her first home.
    We live in a great time with wonderful fabrics but just like when I go to the store to buy O.J. there are so many choice, no-pulp,pulp etc. and for me sometimes having so many choices makes me freeze and unable to decide.
    I love your site and come by most everyday…Thank you.

  • Great post. I am fairly new to sewing in general and fabrics in Finland where I come from can be ridiculously expensive, especially quilt-weight ones. I have purchased a lot from the US and while the flood of new and fantastic patterns has me stunned, I also have pondered the lifespan of some. Woodland is a huge trend and luckily timeless, but there are many others which might live for five or so years after which they become ‘old’ – and what should one do with that quilt then? Florals, geometrics, dots and such are my go-to fabrics now, and while I have a few ideas for a Kaleidoscope pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew, I think I might end up making it with all dots such as Michael Miller’s.

  • I just stumbled upon your site and I’m in LOVE. I have a little sewing blog that I keep, along with my alterations business info, and I use it to share the few projects I get to along with cool things I find online. Glad to come across your site and this post.
    I agree about the fabrics and have spent some time recently, searching for handmade fabrics. Mostly I just find handprinted fabrics, but that works too. While I love a good newly made prints, it does seem that a lot of the fabric houses only do full lines any more. Plus, being a vintage/retro lover the timeless prints make more sense to me in the long run.

    Can’t wait to dig further into your site!

  • The longevity of trends is something that I hadn’t considered in designer fabrics, but everyone makes such good points here! I make pillows and things, and from a sustainability standpoint I try to create designs that someone will enjoy for a long time. It makes sense that the same principle would apply to quiltmaking as well.

    Thanks for the mentn about Home Sweet! I’m so happy to be one of the new sponsors because you do *such* a great job here. I always love the projects, fabrics and products that you choose to highlight. Your first book is a great reference to loan out to beginning sewers. I’m really looking forward to the new book!

  • Hey…such a awesome work and use of hand printed fabric. I believe that printed fabric always makes things quite beautiful then other. Such a wonderful work.!!!

    Thanks for sharing…..!!

  • Hello,
    for all you hand printed fabric lovers, there is still one place in Brooklyn ny that has been hand printing textiles for the industry for over 25 years. We currently have hundreds of vintage silk screens waiting tobe brought back to life. for a tour or more info please visit http://www.marujanyc.com or email maria@marujanyc.com

  • Love the idea of a book on hand printed textiles… I have a small cottage business of hand printed textiles and products… would love you to have a look. I always think of timelessness when designing my prints…

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