April 10, 2009

Spoonflower fabric review

Not long ago I discovered Spoonflower - a site that prints fabric from your custom designs! Super cool, right? So I decided to give them a try and was quite excited yesterday to get my fabric bundle in the mail! What follows is my review of the service.

First, timing: I placed my order on March 29th and it was shipped out on April 7th. Just over a week to get it printed and sent? Not bad at all.

Next, color: Mixed results on this. Here's a sample of my original designs:

And here's the fabric I received: (Instead of just ordering the 8"x8" sample size, I decided to make a file to fill a yard's worth of fabric, thinking that I would do a test this way while also getting enough fabric to actually do something with. Four samples would have cost $20, 1 yard of fabric is $18. Just me trying to be clever and thrifty all at the same time!)

So, the colors are not exactly as they were in my sample, which is probably to be expected. Having worked in a photo studio for several years, I know that color management is a nightmare. Differences in monitors and printers make for tricky color issues, and that means a lot of calibrating, recalibrating, tweaking and fussing to get things right.

I tried to minimize these issues by preparing my files the way Spoonflower suggests, that is, using a specific dpi, LAB color settings, and downloading a Spoonflower color palette to use. Even so, everything seemed a bit lighter than I was expecting, especially my avocado centers. My green was more yellow than I thought it would be, although the red looks really good. Yes, this is a sampler, so I can definitely work to make some adjustments and then reprint.

However, looking more closely, I don't think the lightness is all a color shift problem. This brings me to some issues of quality: I'm spotting some definite fading on my fabric.

Here's a close up of the fade from the edge to the middle:

Another sample which shows not only fading left to right, but a bit of bleeding with the red on the left:

AND I also have this lovely line running down one edge of my fabric:

This makes me disappointed. Like I said, I expect some color correcting to be necessary, but fading, bleeding, and random lines on my fabric are quality issues that need to be worked out from Spoonflower's side of things.

Finally, on cost: $18 a yard doesn't seem too bad for totally custom fabric. However, you'll probably want to figure in doing a sample or two to get your colors just so before printing any great quantity. At $5 per sample, this could add up quickly. (I would love to see them apply a sample cost to the eventual printing price of your designs.) Doing samples also adds time to see your designs come to fruition, meaning impatient crafters may get frustrated.

Overall: I love the idea of Spoonflower, and hope that my little issues were either a fluke or part of kinks being worked out in the system. I plan to work though these problems and continue making more custom designs. (Follow my designs on Spoonflower!)

Expect some color tweaking and allow time for samples and finished products to be printed, and then rejoice in seeing your custom designs becoming a reality. :-)


Cesia said...


Wendymoon said...

Interesting good or interesting bad?

I have contacted Spoonflower about these issues and am surprised that I haven't heard back yet. I would think they would want to know about/fix problems like these. Maybe they are just slow at responding.

That is the one thing that bugs me about small/new/different businesses. The ideas are often great and unique, but the follow-through is sadly lacking. I imagine sometimes the response grows beyond what the company is prepared for, and therefore things like quality and service end up getting lost in the shuffle.

I want so much to support places like this. I just wish they lived up to their promise.

Wendymoon said...

Just have to update and say I have heard from Spoonflower and they are working with me to fix these issues. So forgive my earlier negative comments, they are following through now. :-) Which makes me happy, because I want this fabric to work!