Mad In Pursuit Notebook


Textile Design: More Adventure in Fabric

4.16.2014. I'm just around the bend enough to think it would be fun to design my own fabric. Spoonflower, a print-on-demand service for fabric, wallpaper, etc, makes it seem so easy.

Above is my "first draft," based on a morning doodle from March 12, 2009, when I also apparently had cabin fever. The original "index card art" is below:

The main thing about fabric design is engineering a pattern so that it repeats smoothly. I understand the concept but actually trying to do it makes my head turn inside out. My first decision was to forget laying out a design on the diagonal. One challenge at a time, please.

Step 1. Analyzed the "face box" and began drawing it with the pencil tool in Illustrator CC (after watching a couple refresher videos at

Step 2. I did 6 faces before it clicked that they would fit into a 4 x 4 grid. I put in guidelines for the grid, tweaked the done faces to fit, then continued on. I'd like a have a disciplined color palette, but for now I'm just going for the pizzaz of bright, complementary colors on a shades-of-purple checkerboard. I'm doing it in Illustrator precisely so that I can change the "colorways." That's a new term for me -- it means the same design, rendered in different palettes. What the cool kids do.

Step 3. After I got my 16 faces, I needed to test it as a pattern. So I rendered it out to a .jpg file, which I opened in Photoshop. I chose the layer, then Edit > Define Pattern. I opened a new Photoshop file -- just a quick letter-size, 300 dpi. Then Edit > Fill... > Pattern > [myfacespattern]. Holy cow! It worked!

It needs a lot more tweaking. But for now I'm celebrating that I actually got a block of 16 faces to repeat without major ugliness happening.

Continued on 4.20.2014>>>