Book Review by Sapphire Ng
A Field Guide to Fabric Design: Design, Print & Sell Your Own Fabric; Traditional & Digital Techniques; For Quilting, Home Dec & Apparel
Copyright November 2011
This book offers a marvelous and compact crash course to the discipline of fabric design. Perfect for beginner and aspiring fabric designers, the book incorporates practical information and clear instructions organized and optimized for the reader to get started immediately and swiftly on any home-based fabric design project. Filled with illustrative photographs and images that help elucidate the processes discussed, the book is an incredibly useful and straightforward, not to mention fun, guide.
Practicality is the greatest strength of this book. Apart from covering hands-on tutorials, the author discussed the fabric design market and related opportunities in highly applicable ways. The step-by-step tutorials on design and hand printing are particularly commendable—the reader will learn how to design repeats by hand, and through the use of programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator; and also assimilate information from tutorials demonstrating the processes of block printing and screen printing, in addition to adequate explication of for example, block-printing and screen-printing inks.
The book conscientiously includes only the more salient pieces of information deemed to be relevant to the budding fabric designer. The author provided a brief overview of the three biggest markets of retail fabric—quilting, home décor, and fashion, and detailed distinctive characteristics attributable to the respective collections. Quilting cotton collections for example, were noted to have fabric designs that “tend to be more whimsical, trendy, colorful, and thematic than fabrics in other types of collections,” whilst home décor collections tend to have motifs and colors inclining toward “the classic and timeless.”
The book also contains what the author calls the “fabric designers roundtable”—an injection of relevancy and reality into the book by garnering the opinions and perspectives of actual practitioners in the industry. The reader will have the opportunity to read about for example, these fabric designers' individualized and intriguing approaches to and thoughts about color palettes in the context of collections; the proportion and interplay of fabric design against other ancillary revenue sources in their careers and brands; the underlying reasoning for those who opt for digital printing instead of hand printing or design licensing; or even their views on current trends.
The book also consists of morsels of practical advice and helpful tips, including that of offering complementary products such as sewing or quilt patterns, of bolstering one's marketing strategy by displaying sample products incorporating one's fabric designs, or even licensing advice that takes advantage of the knowledge of for example, the relatively higher annual production of quilting collections compared to “any other type of fabric collection.”
The book also covers a range of other pertinent and fundamental material pertaining to the art of fabric designing that are undoubtedly valuable. Concepts such as the fabric labels prepared for dye (PFD) or prepared for printing (PFP); the technology and method of digital textile printing; the three basic methods of traditional volume printing of automated flatbed screen printing, rotary screen printing, and copper roller printing; and even brief coverage of fabric basics including fabric construction, fiber types, and foundational fabric design terminology.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.