4 Steps to Printing Your Own Quilt Fabric Designs

I love the idea of being able to repurpose some of my designs that I have painstakingly created in appliqué or collage, and printing them on fabric.  It would be a wonderful way to quickly and easily make a whole coordinated line of fabrics that I could then use to make lovely fabric art gifts or home décor. 


fabric art heart
Fabric art made from custom-printed fabric. From Cloth Paper Scissors Jan./Feb. 2012.

At one point on my personal blog I was experimenting (rather playfully) with scanning my bird collages and then printing them on cardstock. I cut out the birds, made “balloon” captions for them, and stuck them all over the house for my children to find. I called them “chore birds”:  the birds told the kids what to do, like “Shovel the driveway” and “Wash the dishes”. 

I’d like to say the kids had as much fun finding the birds and doing the chores as I did making them, but that would be stretching the truth!

This kind of repurposing your already created work is very similar to the concept of custom printing your designs on fabric: make your art once, and use it repeatedly.

Our sister publication Cloth Paper Scissors® took a look at three different companies that provide that service: fabricondemand.com, karmakraft.com, and spoonflower.com. The editors sent in three pieces of artwork for printing, made some fabric art with the resulting yardage, and reported on the results with an overview of each service.

Here is the basic process of getting your art on fabric through one of these services.

1. Decide how you want to use the printed fabric. If you want to use it as yardage for sewing or quilting fabrics, then you’ll probably want to create a smaller image to use for a repeat. If you want to make multiple prints of a piece of artwork that you can mount on stretcher bars as fiber art or incorporate into a series of small quilts or wall hangings, you will need to make a very good quality scan or copy of your original artwork.

heart fabric art fabric
Scanned images of a gel print collage and a tag,
lower right, with the resulting fabric behind it.

2. Choose a website. Each of the three websites Cloth Paper Scissors researched has a slightly different selection of fabrics, user interface, and process. Choose the one that works best for you.

3. Choose a fabric type. Do you want cotton, silk, or a blend? Quilting fabric weight or voile? Consider trying a couple of different fabrics or, if you have time, request a sample before you place your final order.

4. Upload your art and complete your order. Each of the websites researched has a different ordering process, but the staff people behind the screen are more than willing to help creative people like you get up and running.

I imagine that once you got your hands on your very own designed and printed fabric, it would be very exciting. I’m going to have to give it a try.

Cloth Paper Scissors is always looking into new ways of using fabric and stitch with mixed media. Make sure you don’t miss out on the fiber art fun by getting your own subscription in print or as a digital download.

P.S. Have you used a similar fabric-printing service? What advice do you have for those of us who are new to it? Leave your comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Monoprinting & Screenprinting, Quilt Designs, Quilting Daily Blog

6 thoughts on “4 Steps to Printing Your Own Quilt Fabric Designs

  1. Please note:

    karmakraft.com instead of karmacraft.com

    I’ve used Spoonflower with great satisfaction. I haven’t done any designing, but have purchased from other designers. I prefer the cotton sateen blend of fabric for my quilting projects.

  2. Hi folks,

    Sorry for the typo on karmakraft.com. It has two ks.

    Also, the results of the research are in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, referenced above.

    Thanks for your interest and the comments!

  3. I have used both karmakraft and Spoonflower. It is great fun being able to see the result but both have pro and con.

    Karmakraft has a very long turnaround but when fabric arrives it is up to any washing challenge and they do have great results!

    Spoonflower is a lot quicker and their service is absolutely top notch, answering mails asap.
    The end results on the other hand can be quite different from what you imagined AND the #1 con: I have had a lot of grief washing the fabric, – I’d recommend it for stuff that doesn’t need a lot of cleaning.

    Best regards from Eva Mari 🙂

  4. I have used Spoonflower to print some fabric to my design, in their cotton silk mix. (I’ve also bought some cotton interlock fabric from a designer, through their site). The fabric was excellent quality in both cases. they have a range of other fabrics and for a nominal sum you can get a booklet of small swatches, to help you decide which fabric might be most appropriate for your project. I found the site easy to use, with various suggestions available as to e.g. the type of repeat pattern you might wish to use. You can then preview your design before ordering. Once you have ordered some fabric (at least a swatch of your design) you can coose wheter you would like the fabric to be publicly available, and if so, receive commission on any that is sold.