Historically, the introduction of new technology does not usually result in an immediate change in design styles. Initially, design for any industrial application continues to follow the style associated with the preceding technology; the first motorcars, for example, were designed to resemble horse-drawn carriages. Change only begins to occur once practitioner’s come to understand the potential of the new technology and they are comfortable with it.
– Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac, Digital Textile Design
Many of my students develop custom patterns/fabric along with their design lines. As they develop their garments for the fashion show they often need small run yardage to complete their samples. “So where do we go to have small yardage made of custom fabrics?” they often ask.
Starting out with a minimum of 1000 yards as with traditional printing is just not practical. So there are digital printing options available. Here are four online fabric Printing Services: Spoonflower, Fabric on demand, Karma Kraft and Eye Candey.
Some of these services can even create original custom design artwork. Of course I discourage this for my students. But the service exists none the less ranging between $50-$200 depending on complexity and detail of the design. And if you envision needing larger print runs in the future some of these services also offer traditional printing methods as well (flat bed, heat transfer etc.). So it is a great springboard for dabbling in custom fabrics.
In the blog True Up Kim writes a great entry sharing her experiment using all four fabric printing services. Make sure to check it out to understand how each service works. So if you are working on a project that requires your own custom cloth you can determine which of theses resources would best meet your needs. Perhaps a little out of date but none the less valuable Kim created a great Digital Fabric Printing Guide from her experience.
If you are new to textile design begin with this tutorial on Vector Tuts+ by LoungeKat : A Beginners Guide to Digital Textile Printing. These books are also great resources to get you started on your custom Fabric designs:
Good luck in your adventures with Custom Fabric Design and digital Printing!
Images: (1) Fabric on Demand (2) True Up (3-6) Amazon