Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A VERY rough guide to getting your designs printed on fabric.

Most of us know about Spoonflower, who print customers and designers patterns to order.    Prinfab are also excellent, and I've mentioned them before.  But for stretchy fabrics, might I recommend Contrado?

Spoonflower - large range of fabrics including a couple of good stretch ones.  Bit slow to print and dispatch. Quality can vary a bit.  I find some SF fabrics are a bit grainy, but nothing too drastic.  A higher dpi in your image will help.  SF say 150 dpi minimum, but I find a 200 dpi image looks clearer when printed.

Prinfab - Good range of fabrics, approaching that of Spoonflower.  Much faster turnaround - I often get my fabrics in 3 working days.  But as yet they don't have stretch fabrics - I'm told by Prinfab that they're hoping to have a stretch jersey by the end of this year.  Quality is always excellent.

Contrado UK - Probably the most expensive company if you're buying yardage and fat quarters, BUT, they do great samples from as little as £3.00 for an A5 size piece.  I like to buy A4 pieces, with two designs on the same sampler.  These can be used for matching knickers, socks, armlets, gloves, beanie hats, etc.  (For Contrado USA, use this link)  Quality is always excellent.

Here is my latest sample from Contrado.  I have one of my exclusive patterns and some stripes I designed. (Click on the images to see them enlarged)

The outlines for the stockings etc are drawn on by myself and not printed by Contrado.  In theory you can create pattern pieces as part of the design, but I've found problems in scaling and distortion throughout the printing process, so I don't bother with that aspect.

With Contrado, you get useful information on the sample too.  This is Lycra Matte, which is nice and thin, with a good 4-way stretch.

Now, a lot of people tell me that they have no designing skills, but it's the easiest thing in the world to create a matching fabric for your doll's outfit.  Stripes are dead easy, or simple dots. 

Here's how to do even stripes. Work on a scale that you find easy, and then just reduce the size of the image to a suitable scale for your doll - you can do any stripes. My sample above has a slightly different original pattern:

  This tiny design when repeated will give you this:

And for dots, this is still not too difficult:

It gives you this when repeated:

Or you can try less regimented and simply random dots on a square. 

USE A HIGHER DPI IMAGE FOR CRISP CLEAR PRINTS.  I find 180 dpi (dots per inch) acceptable, but 200 dpi prints (or even 300) much clearer.  Some sites recommend a minimum of 150 dpi, but I find this a little too low.

These are hastily done, but you get the idea.  Small easy patterns when repeated will give nice simple designs for things like matching stockings and knickers, etc. 

Hope someone finds this useful!   I love getting my sample prints in the post. I spend a bit more than I should, because candy store; but for a couple of bucks here and there, it's easy to make some matching stretch items for your dolly outfits.



  1. I did speak today with someone from contrado. I have to set up an account but an image with a text underneath looks ok. Yes for a 3x5 inch image it will cost 20.00 plus shipping. Contrado site kinda jumps or skips easily orcmonents the site is slow but it's all working out. I still haven't iy rituals on that site to read, and they seem aimed right at the required learning you need to know. But I haven't opened the topics. This is different from Spoonflower that has project tutorials but I was looking for a step by step what yo do as once on a site ot seems like they kinda assume you know what to do. I just want first, to find a site that can reprint my images on a compatable fabric for denim [ jackets, jeans].

    1. Hi, yes, Contrado I think are the least user friendly of the group. I try to go with Prinfab most of the time.


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