Thursday, March 25, 2010

Digital Fabric Printing Fun: The Blue Doodle Baby Hoodie

Masheka w/ the Blue Doodle Hoodie

Of all things I've made for Cartoonist Baby so far, this little custom-printed hoodie (modeled here by Masheka) has to be my favorite. The sewing pattern itself is nothing fancy--it's just the hooded raglan sweatshirt from Kwik Sew's handy Sewing for Baby. The real star is the fabric, adorned with Masheka's strange little doodles. He can't sew, but he sure can draw! Take a closer look:

Blue Doodle Baby Hoodie

And closer...

Blue Doodle Baby Hoodie detail

And much closer (too close to include the image here).

The eagle-eyed among you might even see my head, Masheka's face, our cat... not to mention random cows, brains, vampires, skulls, bows, candy canes, toilet paper rolls... everything a stylish Cartoonist Baby could ever need on her sweatshirt, all drawn by her proud dad-to-be! You can view the fabric itself at various magnifications at Spoonflower, but here's a few repeats of the flat design in two colorways:

Blue Doodle Fabric Design

Deep Doodle Fabric Design

And here's the source, the cover for Masheka's 2007 cartoon collection Deep Doodle:

(Yes, that's a self-portrait of Masheka throwing up--my husband is a Mad magazine kind of guy, what can I say? One of his most beloved cartoons back in his college days was called "The 11 Types of Vomit.")

Custom digital fabric printing is thrilling--the exact print you want in as little or as much yardage as you want!--but not cheap. For example, at Spoonflower (the only site I've tested so far), prices range from $18/yard for quilting cotton to as much as $32/yard for upholstery-weight twill. The organic cotton interlock for the above hoodie was $27/yard (though I used far less than a yard), and I also bought fat quarters of the upholstery weight to make some softie skulls and mouths that I sold at a cartooning convention last year (but I've sold all my stock and forgot to take pictures). In between those prices they also have organic cotton sateen, lawn, a rayon/bamboo blend fabric and more. Spoonflower also has a marketplace for selling your fabric designs and fun weekly fabric design contests (the prize: free yardage!)

So have you ever tried custom digital fabric printing? Do you plan to? Have you ever bought fabric from a small-scale designer who used a site like this via the site itself or Etsy? If not, what's holding you back--the price or the design skills/tools required? The former is the main reason why I haven't done more than baby clothes and softies with this one design. As for the latter, Masheka and I used PhotoShop for our experiment but I know there are many free tools and tutorials out there to help non-professionals create the digital fabrics of their dreams.

If you'd like to learn more, the fabric blog True Up put together a great comparison chart (also available as a PDF) of digital fabric printers and their offerings, fabric types, pricing, yardage requirements, et al. Also via True Up I just learned that tonight's Project Runway will feature a digital fabric printer!

I'd like to collaborate more with Masheka on projects like these but unfortunately he's currently trapped in this cardboard figurine:


  1. Wow! That is really amazing! I didn't know you could do that! My husband is also a fantastic artist...maybe he can do a design for some fabric and then I can make it into a dress! The hoodie is SO CUTE!

  2. we did a bunch of fabric when Spoonflower first started up, we've meant to do a lot more but haven't had the time to work anything new out. I made an outfit for our daughter and did some crafts which I just finished selling off - people really responded well to them! You guys would probably do fantastic with some small stuff made from spoonflower fabric.

    It's a bit expensive for a large scale project (a dress, say), so I haven't even thought about it seriously. For crafts and kid's clothes it's awesome though!

  3. I first heard of Spoonflower before I started sewing and I loved the idea - but I couldn't imagine what use it would be for me. Now that I am sewing, it's a much more dangerous proposition. I think you've done a gorgeous job collaborating on this lovely baby item. Just think of your lucky little girl who will benefit from the artistry of both her parents. I'm sure she's going to be the craftiest dynamo in the land!

  4. Wait a minute--Sarah, I didn't realize before that you were Sarah Dyer! I've totally come up to your table at MOCCA before--I love Action Girl and was so inspired by it starting when I was in high school. Also, Masheka is a big fan of your husband's cartoons and has a bunch of his books and a Milk & Cheese T-shirt!

    Small world! And I think you're right--small crafts tend to be the way to go when the yardage is so pricey. We just need to sit down and generate some ideas. The stuffed softies were definitely popular and sold out at MOCCA.

    Debi and K. Line, you should so try it... it's a lot of fun!

  5. Haha, Mikhaela! I thought we'd met, but I wasn't sure. Email on the way!

  6. Hi Mikhaela - It was great to meet you today! What an absolutely adorable hoodie - the fabric is definitely what makes it special.

    Tricia (Clio)

  7. Love the artwork..and you have a beautiful family!


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