Oct 012013

This post is also available in: German

How colors print differently on the various Spoonflower fabrics


As some of you may know, some of my fabric designs are available on Spoonflower – the link to my designs there is this one.

Now, for many of my fabrics I suggest something like “the colors will print best on this or that fabric”.
Many people fail to understand what I mean – color is color, right?


That’s why I’ve invested a few bucks to get swatches of quite a few of the fabric types that Spoonflower offers to be able to illustrate how the colors print on those fabrics.
Just for the records, the design that I used for the swatches is a swatch-sized version of this Spoonflower color map.

Just so you know which fabrics I have swatched, these are:

  1. Basic Combed Cotton
  2. Dress-Weight Faille (may not be available to the public yet – the advantage of being a Spoonflower designer and able to test fabrics…)
  3. Organic Cotton Sateen
  4. Cotton Silk
  5. Cotton Poplin
  6. Micro Twill (may not be available to the public yet)
  7. Cotton Voile
  8. Linen-Cotton Canvas
  9. Silk Crepe de Chine
  10. Performance Knit

The numbers listed for the fabrics above (1-10) are the numbers by which I will refer to them when explaining what you see in the photos below.
As for the widths, weight, prices of those fabrics – please refer to this Spoonflower help page.

Let’s start with an overview of all the fabrics.

Colors_All1 Colors_All
Left: Picture taken in shade; right: Picture taken in sunlight.
Top row; left to right: 1-5;
Bottom row; left to right: 6-10.

Now, as you can probably see, there are three fabrics which stand out in terms of color brightness – those are 2, 6 and 10; directly followed by 4.
That’s because 2, 4 and 6 are polyester fabrics; while all other fabrics are either cotton or cotton / silk or cotton / linen blends (or pure silk – 9, to be precise).
The lately introduced polyester fabrics DO print the colors much better and brighter.

But let’s go into detail and have a look at the colors up close:

Colors_Reds1 Colors_Reds
Colors_Blues1 Colors_Blues
Colors_Greens1 Colors_Greens
Colors_Bases1 Colors_Bases
Again, for each picture save the last two:
Left: Picture taken in shade; right: Picture taken in sunlight.
Top row; left to right: 1-5;
Bottom row; left to right: 6-10.
Last picture shows fabrics 1-10 from top to bottom.I particularly recommend comparing the RED shades of the various fabrics in the very first picture.
It’s almost as if the fabrics which do not print as brightly as the polyesters have been washed out; but that is not the case.
Also notable is how much better the blacks print on the polyester fabrics.

Another set of pictures – this time comparing the sheerness of the fabrics:

Colors_Sheerness1 Colors_Sheerness
Almost the usual setup – left, shade; right, sun; left rows top to bottom: 1-5; right rows: 6-10.
For the left picture I placed a piece of black leather beneath the fabrics at the center; for the right one, a piece of green satin.
You will notice how the fabrics 7 and 9 are the ones that are most sheer.

Now, what does this examination conclude to?

First, it is entirely up to you which fabric you chose for a project. Some may not be suitable for certain projects; i. e. it’s rather difficult to make one of the “big” dresses, like my Travel dress, using a stretch fabric (which is why I chose the Organic Cotton Sateen for that one).
Also, if you, like me, strongly dislike Polyester fabrics, you want to pick either the Organic Cotton Sateen or the Cotton Poplin since those two – from the range of natural fabrics – DO print the colors best.
Another option is the Cotton Silk, but since that fabric has a sheen that is rather similar to dupioni silk, it may not be suitable for projects that require more matte fabrics – however it of course IS brilliant for projects that DO require that kind of sheen.
The linen-cotton canvas is a good option if you need a REALLY sturdy fabric (i. e. for bags).
And the Silk Crepe de Chine, well, it doesn’t print the colors so very well and is a tad on the sheer side, but still, it’s pure silk and very airy.
If you REALLY want bright and clear colors, I do NOT recommend the Basic Combed Cotton or Kona (the latter not pictured in my swatches but yielding a similar result to the Basic Cotton).

At any rate, I DO strongly recommend ordering swatches (of possibly more than one fabric type!) if you like a certain design. That is the only way you can find out how the colors do actually print on certain fabrics.

Hope you found this little Spoonflower color guide printing comprehensive :-)

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