Here’s another of those “textbook-style” craft books I’ve been getting so hopped up about lately. Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design won’t necessarily be for every crafter out there, but it’ll give a whole lot of value to those who want to go deep into designing and printing fabric.
There aren’t any finished projects in here at all, which is so nice for a book like this. Instead, it’s all about the instructional quality and related illustrations. But because it’s a Chronicle Books book, it’s way more beautiful throughout than your standard textbook.
First, author Laurie Wisbrun details the various motifs in fabric design: Geometric, Ethnic, Conversational and so on. She also talks about the various ways pattern can be structured (like how it repeats, what direction it moves, what its scale and density are). And then she talks about using color in patterns – pulling color palettes from photos, coming up with color schemes, using tint and brightness to alter colors, and so on.
To wrap up the first chapter, Laurie goes into quite a bit of detail on using Photoshop and Illustrator to build digital patterns. Every technique is presented in well-illustrated steps as you see here.
If you don’t own Photoshop or Illustrator, or you prefer to play with more hands-on fabric methods, the book also covers several methods of dyeing and hand-printing, including block printing, stencils and screenprinting. Each method gets solid coverage, as Laurie brought in outside contributors who excel in these techniques to produce beautiful tutorials.
If I may be nerdy for a moment, I’ll just say that I like that these analog methods were included in this book with this level of detail. Digital and hands-on fabric design feel like kind of opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of control and mess-potential, but it’s really interesting to see the things one can do that the other can’t.
Scattered throughout the book are profiles of fabric designers and interviews with designers who’ve taken their work to a professional level. There are a ton of useful insights and tips here, along with plenty of high-quality eye-candy.
I was so pleased to see a whole section on the ins and outs of ethically sourcing images for inspiration or reproduction. Dang, maybe this should be a required section in all craft books at this point!
(Oh – and I forgot to photograph this, but there’s a nice section on working with digital fabric printers, too – and my favorite one, Spoonflower, is mentioned prominently.)
If you have dreams of designing fabric as a livelihood, the last section is for you. Laurie offers up a very practical guide to approaching fabric manufacturers, working with convertors, developing design collections for licensing and formulating a marketing plan for your work. And this section is liberally sprinkled with the aforementioned interviews with folks who’ve done it.
This is nearly impossible to show you, but the cover is made from a digitally-printed piece of fabric – a super nice touch. This is a very useful book with a long future on my bookshelf.
…Also, as of this writing, for some reason, Amazon is selling this baby for twenty bucks. To my eye, it’s worth twice the price, at least.
(Disclosure time: Chronicle Books sent me a review copy, and the title links above are affiliate links.)