Well we are two months into this COVID-19 outbreak and I have been silent—dropped off the face of the earth silent. Sorry. It surprised me that the the first couple of weeks went so quickly, then the third week came and went. Fourth week…well you get the picture. Life has been so weird. I’ve gone through ups and downs and now I feel like I’m settling into the new normal.

What does that mean? Well for my sewing projects I’ve been doing a little purging to make room for my “new home office”. My sewing studio was the smallest bedroom in the house—so, not much room to begin with. I’ve moved my double 32″ monitors home and set them up on a collection of antique student desk, wire rack and closet shelving and a piece of scrap wood. Not pretty but functional. I had to move my pattern bins to make room, so now they are stacked up in a corner.

To be honest, they are pretty much strewn all over the floor this morning because I was looking for a pattern to use for some yoga pants. One of my precious neighbors is starting up an informal yoga session in our cul de sac. So every Wednesday morning at 7:30 several of us show up with our mats and masks to attempt a 30 minute morning salutation. We are a motley crew, but I’ve never been prouder or more connected to my neighbors!

We are NOT in the same boat

Someone recently corrected me after I said, “We are all in the same boat”. They said, “We are NOT in the same boat, but we are all in the same shit storm!” I thought that this is so true. Looking at my own unique reaction to the isolation order as a two fold process. First I got depressed and got way to deep into my own head. Then I came to some level of acceptance to a ‘new normal’ for my life.

With the help of supportive neighbors, family and a wonderful boss I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel now. I’ve shaken off the blues and donned a rainbow of hope. The lesson is that we should all be kind to each other and realize that everyone’s life experience is different. Each of us has our own way of processing the events in our lives a little differently; so the goal is not to always understand, but accept and show compassion.

Can I make it up to you?

After a considerable amount of consternation about being absent from my blog and my sewing group, I felt like I needed to give you something for hanging in there with me.

So I came up with a couple of tidbits of wisdom that I can share. I was inspired by a project I am working on for a client to make 200 branded masks. When I ordered the fabric for my client from Spoonflower it was a huge risk. Since their production times have slowed down considerably I really didn’t have the time frame to order swatches to check pattern accuracy and colors. Needles to say when I received the $500 worth of fabric, I held my breath until I got the package open.

Flying Pigs, Cotton Spandex Jersey & MLH house pattern, Petal Signature Cotton

To my delight the colors were spot on thanks to an investment I started making years ago.

Tip #1: Color Charts & Sample Packs

Spoonflower offers Sample Packs and Color Maps. A Color Map is printed on a yard of fabric and costs what the yard would cost. I ordered several initially, one in each type of fabric I planned on using a lot of. And found them invaluable as they take a lot of guesswork out of choosing colors for your projects.

If you search for “Color Chart” on the Spoonflower website you will see multiple choices of charts you can order. There is even a pantone chart that is very useful if you are working with a client who has PMS colors assigned for branding.

Because Spoonflower ads and removes types of fabrics fairly often, I order a Sample Pack every year and I order color maps in fabrics I like. That way I stay on top of the offerings and have fresh color reference for projects like my branded mask project.

If you have ever used Pantone’s swatch system, you know that you have to replace the books every year or so due to fading to maintain accuracy. The same is true with these samples. Store in a dark place (in a drawer or box) to help preserve the colors longer. Any UV rays will fade them over time.

Color Map in the background with a Sample Pack and a few old swatch 8×8 samples.

Tip #2: Client Color Profiles/Sample Square

One of the things that saves me time and frustration is creating a client color profile. This usually lives in my “Graphic Standards” folder in my client files; but it includes a lot of items that don’t always fit into a digital format. Especially if I am doing any kind of branded objects or surface design. So I sometimes create a “Client Box” where I keep samples of product I have created and a sample square for each fabric I am working in for them.

If you work in Adobe at all you may have heard of Library’s. If you are not using them, you probably should. It’s a great way to collect images, colors and fonts for quick retrieval in any Adobe program. You can organize your libraries anyway that makes sense to you.

The Library Panel in Illustrator. Organized by Colors, Text and Graphics.

Because colors don’t always look the same on a display as they do on the fabric a color sample block is a great way to create a reference and test colors on fabrics you haven’t used yet. Similar to testing a repeating pattern, you can test color builds by creating an 8″x8″x150ppi square with simulated swatches.

BE WARNED! Color builds on Spoonflower are called out with HEX Codes. If you don’t know what hex codes are or understand color builds, stay tuned. I’m going to take a deep dive next posting and explain this whole process in detail. A hex code for a color on the Signature Cotton will look different on the Organic Cotton Sateen. And you can’t use the same Hex code you use on your website to print on fabric and expect the same result. It rarely happens.

00CC22 on different fabrics side by side.

For example, here are two different fabrics side by side. You can see how the density of the weave (the warp & weft) affects the appearance of the same color build. This color appears less saturated and much darker on the looser weave (right). I’ve found the denser the fabric the richer the hue. So that’s why I test on the fabrics I’m going to be using before investing in yards of unusable fabric.

The sample block example below shows one that I created for my flying pig branding. There are sample ‘swatches’ in the three colors of the pallet on both a light and dark background; the 4 versions of the logo mark I commonly use and the logotype on white and reversed out. Additionally, I’ve added slashes of the colors over white and my neutral (90% K) as these are the most common ways I use the colors. This allows me to see how they interact on a dark or light background and with each other.

Sample Swatch for color builds.

I labeled the swatches with both the PMS color and hex number used to build for fabric printing with Spoonflower as the hex code for the printed color is generally different from the one used to create the color on screen.

Next week I’ll post a Deep Dive into color builds and file set up for Spoonflower and how you can best manage your files so that they print correctly. Until then, stay safe and stay home if you can.

1 Comment

  1. kimberlykrueger on August 24, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    I use WordPress, but with the Beaverbuilder editor and template. Beaverbuilder makes all the difference since I’m not a coder. It helps to know the basics of HTML/CSS and how to deal with some scripting but it’s not at all necessary.

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