There are a few key variables that customers take for granted when shopping for fabric in person. If this is your first time buying fabric, this article will share how Spoonflower works, what to pay attention to before ordering, and what to do when your order arrives.
- Printing Methods
- Print Resolution
- Design Layout for Printing
- Continuous Fabric Lengths
- Color Representation
Spoonflower's unique print-on-demand strategy opens up new possibilities for creating, sewing and designing that are not available at a store. Our process allows us to:
- keep millions of designs in our Marketplace
- print any design on any fabric or wallpaper type
- honor our commitment to sustainability
Rather than dyeing your fabric and creating effluent waste, Spoonflower employs two types of printing:
Digital Printing on Natural Fabrics and Wallpaper
Spoonflower creates thousands of colors while printing directly onto natural fiber fabrics or wallpapers. Colors are:
- determined and saved by the artist
- converted to sRGB when uploaded to our site
- printed by mixing various inks
While every printer has established settings, there may be slight color variation from one order to the next. We call each order a print-lot, and similar to dye-lots, it is best to order enough fabric in your initial order to be certain colors match.
Sublimation Method on Polyester Fabrics
For our sublimation process, your design is printed onto a special transfer paper that is then overlaid onto the polyester fabric. With the application of pressure and heat, the ink of the design sublimates into a gas that penetrates and bonds into the fabric.
Due to this two-step process, polyester fabrics can print no longer than 8 yards/meters. As mentioned with the digital printing method, each order is an individual print-lot. Order enough fabric in your first order to ensure color consistency.
Because we are printing on fabric rather than paper, the weave of fibers may influence the resolution of small-scale designs, as well as patterns with significant details or thin lines.
Spoonflower prints all designs from the bottom left corner of the fabric or wallpaper.
Keep in mind:
- We do not resize the design to fit a certain width or height of fabric. This means wider fabrics will have more repeats across the width of the design. Review the basic characteristics of all our products in Fabric Specifications and Details.
- We print each piece individually. This means if you order three one-yard pieces of the same design, they will print as three identical pieces. In other words, your fabric is NOT cut from a pre-printed roll, nor is it printed as three full yards and cut down.
- As a pattern prints from left to right, the design repeat is based upon the settings saved by the artist.
If your personal design measures more than one yard (36") in height, you will need to increase the continuous yardage/meterage to receive the complete image.
When ordering a Marketplace design, what you see in the image preview window matches the scale and visual layout. ReviewVisualizing Size and Scale of Marketplace Designs for the basics.
We do not print partial yards/meters of your fabric. If you need more than one yard/meter of a design, you will only be able to order in whole number increments.
HACK: If you only need partial-yard increments of a certain design, our Fill-A-Yard® product may be for you. You will still need to order either one or two yards of total fabric (not available in metric sizes), but you may select and lay out your designs however you wish. Review the Fill-A-Yard® Guide to learn exactly how to create this unique product.
The exact color settings of your monitor will likely not match the printer settings that produce your order and small color shifts are to be expected. This is why we always recommend ordering Test Swatches before placing any larger order.
Cconsider the following:
- Our printing method works better with designs using variations of colors throughout
- Darker, heavily saturated fields of color printing in larger blocks can sometimes arrive with a slightly muted tone, especially on natural fibers
- Complex color tones, such as gray and tan, are a mix of many individual colors and are more likely to vary across multiple print jobs due to environmental factors
- Larger areas of blue may sometimes present as slightly purple on natural fibers
Additional Articles about Spoonflower Products and Printing
When looking at a Marketplace design on your screen, the selvages run vertically, along the left and right edges of the image preview window. If the image of fabric continued, it would run down your monitor or phone.
Because every monitor has different display settings, knowing exactly how a color will print is impossible. While two Marketplace designs may seem to be in the same colorway, the two printed designs may be different because:
- fabric weave influences how light reflects color
- fabric content and thread thickness can effect how colors print
- the white point of the base fabric impacts color representation
- the printing process yields different color results
Since color is an important part of any project, we always recommend ordering and reviewing Test Swatches before any large purchase. This will allow you to color match, find matching treatments, and be certain the weight and finish of the fabric is right for your needs.
Review Finding Coordinating Designs and Fabrics for ways to search more creatively for matching designs in our Marketplace.
Additional Articles about Ordering
Washing your fabric prior to use in important for two main reasons:
- Help the fibers relax back into natural shape after being printed
- Address any potential for shrinkage
Because we are printing your order and not cutting it from a bolt, your fabric may shrink during the printing process and on its first wash. Review Fabric Specifications and Details for fair shrinkage estimate and consult Caring for Your Spoonflower Products for more about washing fabrics.
Additional Articles About Care and Fabric Use