How to design your own fabric at home [FREE COURSE!] (2023)

How to design your own fabric at home [FREE COURSE!] (1)

Note: This post contains affiliate links for supplies that I have tested and recommend! Please use them if my research and writing inspire you to purchase supplies and make cute things. Thank you for supporting my small business!

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Do you ever go shopping and see a product with really awful fabric or upholstery and think, “I could do better than that”.

If so, then this post is for you :)

I’m going to be sharing about a bunch of different ways you can design your own fabric at home, whether it’s dyed, digitally printed, or hand-printed.

There are lots of options when it comes to designing your own fabric without having to actually go through a professional manufacturing process. In fact, that’s how I got started so many years ago and ended up in block printing.

I originally started hunting around online because I wanted to make my own fabrics quickly, affordably, and easily from home without having to go through a digital process or deal with big companies (this was before easily accessible companies like Spoonflower existed).

When I started searching around Google, I kept coming across different ways to design my fabric, but it took a while before I found something that resonated enough to stick with me.

Obviously, you can see that I ended up in block printing, but below are some other ways you can design your own fabric and prints from home without having to put down a significant deposit or jump through a ton of hoops.

But first…a few important questions!

When thinking about the fabric you want to design, there are a few things you’ll need to consider:

1) What will you be using the fabric for?

Clothing? Upholstery? Pillows? Wall decor? Your answer here will really make a huge difference on what type of fabric you’ll need to start out with.

For example, you’re going to need a much heavier weight fabric for upholstery than you will for a flowy scarf or skirt.

And the type of fabric you need will effect the type of fabric design options you’ll be able to use.

If you decide you want to natural dye a flowy scarf, you’ll have to make sure you choose a fabric that is not synthetic (many flowy fabrics are synthetic!) because the natural dye will not adhere to synthetic fabrics.

The next question to ask yourself is:

(Video) How to design your own fabric. Step-by-step fabric design tutorial with final fabric example.

2) Do you just want to dye the fabric? Or do you just want to print on the fabric with your own designs or patterns?

If you only want to color or dye the fabric, you have a few options:

1. Natural Dyeing

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You can use fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other natural elements to create gorgeous, natural colors for dyeing. And the bonus? Everything is eco-friendly.

This method can be somewhat unpredictable as far as getting an accurate color, and for some colors you might need to collect quite a few veggie scraps to get the shade you want, but it’s a fun process.

You can definitely natural dye from home, but you’ll need to use natural fabrics and you’ll also need to purchase a mordant or something to fix the color permanently into the fabric (don’t forget the rubber gloves!).

2. Store bought dye

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Make things a little easier on yourself and go the store-bought route with pre-mixed dyes like Rit which comes in either a liquid form or a powder form. These are super easy to use at home, you’ll just need some big bowls or a pot to soak your fabric in.

With this method, you can use the color straight from the bottle or mix a few together to create your own custom dye color. They also carry fixative and everything you need to clean your fabric before you dye it.

A newer product they’ve introduced is a liquid dye, but for synthetic fabrics! This is awesome because a lot of dyes (especially natural dyes) can only be used on natural fabrics like cotton, linen, etc.

Normally you can’t use a blended fabric with even a little synthetic in it because the dye won’t soak in.

Rit is just one brand you can try, but they’ve been around since I was tie-dyeing my way through the 80’s and their website has a plethora of information and pretty colors to look at, so I’m biased. (But also the colors always came out bright and amazing!)

Other dyeing options you can try are shibori, tie-dye, reverse tie-dye, and batik, which also dye the fabric, but create various lines and textures as well.

Let’s explore.

3. Tie Dye

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I think you’re probably already familiar with this one. Especially you 60’s babies. Rit has a great tutorial on their website if you want to check it out.

There are a few methods of manipulating the fabric and using rubber bands, and each method creates a different type of tie-dye pattern, so your results will vary depending on how you tied it up.

You’ll need some fabric, rubber bands, and any kind of dye to start making tie-dye magic. Alternatively, if you’re too lazy to get together all the supplies, Jacquard makes a tie-dye kit with everything you’ll need to get started.

4. Shibori

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(Video) How to Design and Print Your Own Fabric Step by Step Tutorial | Sew Anastasia

Shibori is a dyeing technique that originated in Japan. It involves twisting, clamping, folding, and tying the fabric (similar to tie-dye) except instead of using bright psychedelic colors, it’s dyed with real Indigo…which is a plant if you were unaware.

You can buy Shibori dye kits around the web if you do a quick search. This is fairly simple to do at home as long as you have a big pot you can use and some kitchen tongs you don’t mind getting turned blue.

I recommend doing this outside with a clothesline if you have the option. It’s also fun to watch the dye oxidize in the sun (it looks green until it oxidizes!)

5. Reverse Tie Dye

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I’ve also heard this called bleach tie-dye, but it’s basically a new type of trendy tie-dye that has taken the blogging-sphere and influencer world by storm.

You start out with a colored shirt, sweatshirt, or fabric, then tie-dye like normal, but use bleach instead of dye. I’ve seen it most often used on black clothes, which leaves the bleached areas a soft brown or pink color.

When attempting this tie-dye process at home, also make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area or ideally outside.

6. Batik

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Batik is a resist printing technique that uses wax to create lines throughout the fabric. The wax is applied in lines or dots with a spouted tool called a canting or a funnel pen. Then the fabric is submerged in dye and washed in hot water which melts the wax away, leaving the patterns created by the wax.

The traditional designs are very ornate, but you can also keep it simple or create an abstract design. This is the only fabric process I have yet to try from this list, so I’m not 100% sure how simple this is to do from home, but where there’s a will, there’s a way as they say.

So…those are a handful of ways you can design your own fabrics at home using various dye related techniques.

Now…if you want printed fabric, you also have a few options:

You can go digital, or you can go handmade. First, let’s take a look at digital printing.

1. Digital Printing

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If you want to tap into your inner graphic design wizard, then your best bet is to design your print yourself in Photoshop or similar, and then send it to an online printing company like Spoonflower to get it digitally printed.

These type of companies let you upload your digital design and you can have it printed on a variety of different fabrics, depending on what you’re using it for. You can even order a fabric sample and have it hemmed.

Can’t draw? You can also upload a photo!

With Spoonflower, you’ll first have to upload your digital design correctly and make sure it fits their requirements. Then you’ll select the type of fabric you want it printed on, (prices vary) and soon your fabric will ship straight to your home.


2. Screenprinting

(Video) How to Print Your Own Custom Fabric The Best Way | Sew Anastasia

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Somehow screenprinting is still a bit of a mystery to me even though I basically worked in a screenprinting shop for 4 years a while back.

In this method, you’ll use a mesh screen and a squeegee to squeeze thin layers of ink onto your fabric. You can have a screen ‘burned’ with your design (pricey), or you can burn it yourself (sketchy and difficult from what I remember).

If you are trying to design your own printed fabric at home, this might not be the ideal printing process, but it definitely can be done. If you don’t mind paying for someone to burn your design onto a screen, then setting up a little printing station, give it a shot!

If this seems like too much work, you can always hire someone to screenprint your designs for you :).

3. Block Printing

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And last, but certainly not least, we have block printing.

Block printing is unique because you’re actually hand carving the design, bit by bit. It has a unique style that captures all the tiny and quirky ‘mistakes’ that naturally occur during the carving process.

Because of this, every print is truly unique which gives it major character. It’s also ideal to design block printed fabric at home because you need very little supplies.

All you’ll need to try this fabric printing process at home is:

  • a block

  • a brayer/roller

  • ink

  • carving tools

  • and some plexiglass

If you want more details on exactly what you’ll need for block printing, make sure to check out my tools and inks blog here.

Now, when it’s time to come up with your actual pattern for block printing or screenprinting, it can be a little intimidating.

It can be hard to narrow down what design you want on your fabric, and you’ll want to be certain before you get out the ink and make it permanent.

You might be afraid you’ll make a terrible drawing if you already feel like you can barely put together a stick figure, but if you follow my simple 4-step design process, you’ll be able to follow the steps to quickly and easily design a pattern that you’ll love.

My personal design process usually involves pencil sketching while blasting music and wandering around the city.

(Video) DIY fabric printing //how to design your own fabric//free sewing classes with boutique management

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I can come up with new fabric patterns fairly quickly these days, but it wasn’t always easy for me.

When I started my business I was making designs and selling them, but I never felt good about the art I made. I knew I wasn’t making my best work, and I felt like I hadn’t really found my design style yet.

A lot of the prints I was selling at the beginning were in a more modern style. I always felt like I had this constant pull between modern and a softer, more feminine style and I couldn’t really make up my mind.

Unfortunately, those are also total opposite aesthetic-wise, so for a very long time I hated everything I made. The good thing is, it didn’t stop me from continuing to make new patterns…until years later when I designed something I loved so much I knew I had hit it.

How to design your own fabric at home [FREE COURSE!] (13)

Since then my patterns have come a long way. I’ve streamlined my process that takes me from sketch to computer, then to block print, and my designs come much faster now.

If you keep practicing, you’ll get better and faster too.

I recommend sketching in pencil rather than designing digitally first, because it tends to stifle the imagination (in my experience). Try it both ways and see what you think though.

If you’re starting out designing your own patterns for the first time, then you might be a little unsure of your art skills.

I have a quick and easy way for you to get started with a step by step guide to help you get your idea from your head, onto paper.

Sign up for my free Design a Perfect Block Print course and get ready to create your own custom patterns, so you can print fabric that you love from home!

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Design

Danielle Broder

textile design, surface pattern design

2 Comments

(Video) How To Design Your Own Fabric | Step-by-Step Design Tutorial (GROW YOUR DESIGN BIZ!!)

FAQs

Can I make my own fabric design? ›

There are two methods of how to make your own fabric pattern: using graphic software or using paper. You'll need different things depending on what method you choose.

How do I start a fabric business from home? ›

Helpful Tips for Starting an Online Fabric Business
  1. Put some thought into your store and domain name. ...
  2. Start buying fabrics wholesale. ...
  3. Take detailed photos of your products. ...
  4. Include detailed descriptions. ...
  5. Integrate an automated shipping system. ...
  6. Create your fabric store business plan.

What fabric do designers use? ›

Silk, cashmere, Pima cotton and leather are first-rate fabrics that designers reach for to create elegant essentials for every wardrobe. They come from natural fibers or the latest and most innovative materials. These luxury fabrics combine craftsmanship with beauty for a piece that looks as good as it feels.

Is there an app to create sewing patterns? ›

Sew Organized

An app released by DIY Danielle for Android devices, this app helps you to keep track of all of your projects. Organize sewing projects, measurements, patterns, fabric, and your sewing shopping list all in this one convenient app. Browse sewing inspiration tutorials, fabrics, and patterns.

What are the 3 methods of pattern making? ›

Methods of Pattern Making
  • Drafting.
  • Draping.
  • Flat paper patternmaking.

Can you print on fabric with a regular printer? ›

While it is possible to print onto fabric using laser printers, generally speaking, inkjets are the way to go. This is because toner doesn't bond to the fabric as well, meaning the colors can rub off easily. Toner is also quite thick, and the fabric becomes stiff and difficult to hand quilt.

Can a paper printer print on fabric? ›

It's much easier to print on fabric than it was a few decades ago when your only option was to iron each piece of fabric onto freezer paper to stabilize it before printing. You can still use that method, but more options exist now that manufacturers produce treated fabrics that are ready to pop into the printer.

How do you transfer a drawing to fabric? ›

Freezer Paper– If you are struggling to trace your design onto fabric because the fabric keeps moving, then just iron some freezer paper onto your fabric. It will stick really well and will feel like you are drawing onto paper. Then just peel the paper off afterwards. Problem solved.

What ink will print on fabric? ›

Water based screen printing inks are great inks to work with when it comes to block printing on fabric. Oil based inks can be used as well, but are better for use on paper. I prefer using water based inks for my fabric printing, mostly because oil based inks are stickier, more smelly, and dry much more slowly.

How do I start printing on fabric? ›

9 Steps to Start Your Digital Textile Printing Business:
  1. Research on market Trend: ...
  2. Find a Supplier who can help you in establishment: ...
  3. Purchase/Rent an office: ...
  4. Look for smart cost effective software: ...
  5. Design Fabric Pattern. ...
  6. Packaging design and solutions: ...
  7. Effective Supply Chain management: ...
  8. After Sales services:
28 Jul 2021

What printer is used to print clothes? ›

DTG printing machines are also called digital garment printing machines or digital apparel printing machines. It is the perfect solution for print on demand or design your own t-shirt businesses. DTG printing technique is a digital process, which requires almost no setup.

Is fabric a good business? ›

Fabric shops have traditionally been very profitable specialty retail operations as the markups applied to fabrics for retail sales can exceed 100 percent or more. The business needs little in the way of specialized equipment, thus keeping the operating overheads to a minimum.

Is selling cloth online profitable? ›

Is an online boutique profitable? Selling clothing and niche products is a profitable way to make money online. Statista estimates that the apparel and accessories online retail sector in the US will generate about $153 billion by 2024.

How do you become a fabric designer? ›

How to Become a Textile Designer
  1. Pursue training. Get a bachelor's degree in textile design, fashion design, or fine arts to learn design techniques such as color theory, screen printing, digital printing, block-printing, and surface design. ...
  2. Complete an internship. ...
  3. Find an entry-level job.
15 Jul 2021

What is the most useful fabric? ›

Natural materials like flax creates unparalleled beauty, durability and tactile feel, and brings a sense of natural wonder into the urban home. Linen is made from plant fibres extracted from the beautiful flax plant (linum usitatissimum). Fibres, found inside the plant's stalk, are used.

Which country is famous for fabric? ›

1) China. The textile industry of China is the largest manufacturer and exporter in the world with an export turnover of $266.41 Bn.

What is the most popular type of fabric? ›

Cotton. Known as the most popular material in the world, cotton is a light, soft natural fabric. The fluffy fiber is extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant in a process called ginning.

Where can I download a pattern for free? ›

The 10 Best Sites to Download Free Background Patterns for Images
  1. DinPattern. DinPattern is a collection of high-quality patterns, ones that would feel right at home on your favorite skateboard deck or funky clothing brand. ...
  2. Brusheezy. ...
  3. Ava7patterns. ...
  4. Pattern8. ...
  5. FBrushes. ...
  6. Background Labs. ...
  7. PixelDecor. ...
  8. Patterns of Change.
12 Oct 2021

What is the easiest design pattern? ›

Singleton (Creational)

This is probably the best known and the simplest to implement design patterns in software engineering. Overuse of the singleton pattern can be a sign of poor architecture but used strategically the singleton pattern is a tried and true solution to a lot of commonly reoccurring scenarios.

What are the 5 steps in pattern making? ›

To create a simple pattern, a pattern maker would have to follow five essential steps: gathering their material, taking proper measurements, adding styles and designs, grading their design, then draping it to result in the final garment.

How can I make my own pattern for free? ›

The best free pattern generation tools
  1. Repper. Repper can generate more patterns than you could ever hope to use, and it's enormous fun to play with (Image credit: Repper) ...
  2. Patternify. Create colourful pixel patterns and deploy them as CSS (Image credit: Patternify) ...
  3. Mazeletter. ...
  4. Patterninja. ...
  5. Patternizer. ...
  6. GeoPattern.

What is the best free cross stitch pattern maker? ›

Free Online cross stitch generators:
  • stitchfiddle.com – 10/10. Based on 3467 reviews. ...
  • myphotostitch.com – 6/10. Based on 492 reviews. ...
  • patternsforyou.com – 6/10. Based on 3465 reviews. ...
  • FreePatternWizard – 5.5/10. Based on 31 reviews. ...
  • pixel-stitch.net – 5.5/10. ...
  • StitchingJoy – 5.5/10. ...
  • FlossCross – 5.5/10. ...
  • BlendThreads – 8/10.

What app do you use to make clothes? ›

Snaptee is the first mobile app in the world that enables you to create your own custom T-shirts with just a few taps of your smartphone. Regardless of your design experience, you can easily complete your unique designs with our fun tools. DESIGN, ORDER, and even SELL your unique creations completely in-app.

What are 4 important tools needed to draft a pattern? ›

My Pattern Making Tools
  • Pattern Paper. Pattern making paper is used to draft patterns. ...
  • Pattern Cardboard for Blocks. I use cardboard to cut out my blocks (sometimes also called slopers). ...
  • Pattern Notcher. ...
  • Paper Scissors. ...
  • Measuring Tape. ...
  • Set Square. ...
  • Half Scale Ruler. ...
  • Grading Ruler.
26 Aug 2020

Which pattern designing method is fastest and most efficient? ›

Flat pattern making method involves the development of a fitted basic pattern with the comfort to fit a person. A sloper is the starting point in a flat pattern method. If you want to develop a standard pattern, flat pattern making is the fastest and the most efficient method.

What are the 10 types of pattern? ›

Single piece pattern, two piece pattern, gated pattern, multi piece pattern, match plate pattern, skeleton pattern, sweep pattern, lose piece pattern, cope and drag pattern, shell pattern. There have more details about 10 different types of patterns.

Is it better to print on cotton or polyester? ›

From Printseekers point of view. Our senior apparel print specialist admits that he prefers cotton, it works better with the DTG printing technique and the fabric is a lot more breathable than polyester.

Do you need a special printer for fabric transfer paper? ›

With transfer paper, you can print text and images on many types of fabric using little more than an iron. You don't even need a special printer. With inkjet transfer paper, all you need is an ordinary inkjet printer.

Does printer ink stay on fabric? ›

Printer ink isn't permanent on fabric, so to help set the ink into the fabric you're going to give it a little vinegar bath. Place your sheet of fabric in a flat baking dish and pour in some white vinegar, just enough to barely cover the fabric.

How do I transfer text to fabric? ›

9 Ways to Add Text to Fabric
  1. Heat Transfer Paper. This is a quick and easy way to iron a printed image directly onto fabric. ...
  2. Iron-On Appliqué Letters. It doesn't get much easier than ironing a precut appliqué letter onto fabric. ...
  3. PreCut Iron-On Letters. ...
  4. Buttons. ...
  5. Sequins. ...
  6. Fabric Markers or Paint. ...
  7. Puffy Paint. ...
  8. Hand Embroidery.
31 May 2016

What material can be used to transfer a design to a fabric? ›

• Carbon paper

With this method, carbon paper is laid between a print-out of your design and the fabric and the outline is traced using a stylus. This method is suitable for light coloured textiles, wood and plastic and is suitable for activities such as marquetry and pyrography as well as textile design.

What pens stay on fabric? ›

Best for Shirts: TULIP Dual-Tip Fabric Markers

Tulip is a top name in fabric markers, and these dual-tipped markers get top marks from customers. They're perfect for T-shirts as they have both an extra-fine tip for outlining, stippling, and detailed designs as well as a brush tip for filling in larger areas quickly.

How do I put my logo on fabric? ›

You can print your logo onto a specialist paper called transfer paper. This can be done using a standard inkjet printer as all the magic happens in the paper. Once you have your logo printed onto the transfer paper, you simply iron it on to the fabric.

How do you prepare fabric before printing? ›

Step by step tutorial for Eco Dyeing or Eco Printing on Silk and Cotton Fabric
  1. Mordant the Fabric.
  2. Soak the Plant Materials.
  3. Place the Leaves and Flowers the fabric and fold it over or cover with a second piece of fabric.
  4. Tightly roll the folded fabric onto a PVC pipe or heavy stick.
  5. Steam or simmer the bundle.
19 Feb 2022

How many types of fabric prints are there? ›

The four main methods of textile printing are block, roller, screen, and heat transfer printing.

What is Tshirt printing called? ›

Also known as silkscreen, screen printing is the most popular t-shirt printing method. It involves using a nylon mesh that holds the stencil in place and waterproof material that keeps the negative space on your item from becoming damaged. The ink is spread across the screen using a squeegee.

Can you print on fabric at home? ›

You can print photos directly onto fabric using the freezer paper method. You'll need to use high quality white fabric that is tightly woven so the photo transfers successfully. Before attaching the freezer paper, soak the fabric in a commercial product to help the fabric set and better absorb the ink.

How are designs printed on fabric? ›

Designs are printed onto a thermal transfer paper, known as dye sublimation paper. The paper is used to print the design onto the fabric. Both heat and pressure are used to permanently bond the inks to the fibers of the fabric, leaving your fabric as soft as it was before it was printed on.

What to study to design clothes? ›

Most fashion designers hold an art and design bachelor's degree. During a fashion design program, students study fabrics, fashion theory, and color theory. They also learn how to create styles using computer-aided design (CAD) software.

How do I start to become a designer? ›

How to Become a Graphic Designer in 10 Simple Steps
  1. Learn and Understand Graphic Design Basics.
  2. Take Online Courses.
  3. Setup Setup Setup.
  4. Follow Established Graphic Designers.
  5. Create an Impressive Portfolio.
  6. Get Some Work Experience.
  7. Learn Professional Copywriting.
  8. Stay Up to Date with Current Design Trends.

What skills do you need for textile design? ›

Skills
  • creative flair and artistic ability.
  • a good eye for colour, texture, fabrics and patterns.
  • excellent attention to detail.
  • an interest in fashion and textiles, and an understanding of trends and materials.
  • understanding and experience of using different textile processes and techniques.

How fabric is made step by step? ›

PRODUCTION PROCESS
  1. SPINNING. Spinning allows the transformation of a mass of disordered fibres (staple) into a unit of great length (yarn). ...
  2. DYEING YARN. Dyeing is the process of transforming greige (natural) yarn into coloured yarn through the use of colour substances. ...
  3. WEAVING. ...
  4. FINISHING. ...
  5. FINAL CHECKS.

What is the most common method used to print fabric? ›

The most common style of printing textile fabric is direct printing. The dye is directly applied onto white fabric or colored fabric. The printed portion is significantly darker than the dyed background. The direct style of printing is used in block printing, screen printing, or roller printing methods.

Which Cricut is best for fabric? ›

Which Cricut is best for fabric? The Cricut maker is, hands down, the best for fabric because you don't have to bond your fabric before cutting. The rotary blade, which works only on the Cricut Maker, can cut unbonded fabric like buttah!

How do I print my own fabric with Cricut? ›

Match top left corner of printed fabric (liner side down) to the top left corner of your Cricut cutting mat and load into Cricut Explore or Maker machine. Cut Setting: Explore: Turn the Smart Set dial to Custom and select "Printable Fabric" from the list of materials.

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