Monday, 1 May 2017

A foray into fabric design


The Divine Dinner Dress by Savage Coco

I am VERY excited about this project! I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but my Mum is an artist. She paints vibrant pictures of Australian landscapes and native flowers as well as memories from her overseas travels. You can see some of her work here

It occurred to me that some of her designs would look gorgeous as fabric and I began to ponder how to go about it. I talked to Mum one evening a couple of months ago and, as soon as I suggested it, Mum was off and racing with ideas! 



I was keen to use her Australian paintings as they are beautiful and unique. Mum said to leave it with her to think over and, before I knew it, she'd been through my blog, found her favourite things and chosen paintings that would make suitable fabric for each garment! 

Meanwhile, I'd been looking at getting the fabric printed. I'd seen that Velosewer had used the UK company Contrado to have fabric printed with a photo for swimwear. Rather fancying some custom printed swimwear myself (more about that in a future post), I decided to give them a try. I was not disappointed!


The Contrado website allows you to upload photos, tweak the design and size, select from a huge number of fabrics (105 from memory) and send the design for printing.

Contrado Swatch Pack

I wanted to be sure the fabric was exactly what I wanted so I sent away for a sample pack before I made my decision. The swatches were sent from England to Australia in less than a week and I found it a huge help to feel the fabrics. I loved some of the sporty, technical fabrics, but decided to see how I went with natural fibres to begin with. After narrowing down my fabric selection, I decided to make three garments each with a different print and fabric. This dress was made from 100% cotton Pima lawn 75gsm.

You need to set up an account with Contrado to get started, then select 'fabric printing' and choose your fabric type. From there you can start your design by uploading images.


Once the image is uploaded you can play around with it using different tools. I chose to print this design as a mirror image. This worked really well for the dress as it meant the front and back of the dress were pattern matched at the sides.


I then carefully measured my dress pattern pieces to work out exactly the amount of fabric I needed. Contrado enables exact measurements to be printed. This is useful to keep costs down and reduce waste. I prewashed my fabrics and measured them before and after. This piece stayed the same width, but lost 2cm in length after washing. 



The Pima Lawn fabric was perfect for this dress. It's light, but not transparent, and was lovely to sew. The printing turned out beautifully and has not faded with washing. The Contrado service was easy and fast and I was very happy with everything.


So, the dress! Mum chose this pattern as she thought using contrasting fabric at the neckline and hem would 'frame' the printed fabric. It's the Divine Dinner Dress by Savage Coco. I have made this dress before and it remains one of my favourites. Savage Coco now has a new website called Naughty Bobbin Patterns, but this pattern and excellent tutorial are still available on the old site. I shortened the dress, and took in the sides. It's perfect for showcasing a special fabric.


You can see here how mirroring the design gave a nice print match (and a totally different look) on each side.


Mum's original painting depicted leaves and flowers of Eucalyptus miniata. I love the colours and smell of Eucalypts and the way this print turned out is unmistakably Australian. It took me ages to decide on the contrasting colour, but I think the soft green goes well with the print.



I am over the moon with this dress and I will wear it with a very special pride knowing that it was the result of an exciting collaboration with my beautiful and talented Mum. Stay tuned for the other two designs we worked on together.


 Love you Mum xx

NOTE: if anyone is interested in using these designs for fabric printing (or other things), please let me know and we can discuss it further!

43 comments:

  1. This dress is fabulous on 2 counts! One, that it is a painting of your Mom and, second, that the pattern perfectly suits the very special fabric. Thanks for sharing. Karen

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    1. Thank you, yes it is very special and was lots of fun!

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  2. Love your photo prop... or were there a lot of blowflies around? The print is just amazing. Interesting that you can just print what you need....that's a good idea. Got me thinking. Thanks for the review of the Contrado site. I'm sure you have fired a lot of imaginations with your colourful creativity.

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    1. Yes, it's great to be able to print just the amount you need. Looking forward to hearing your ideas...

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  3. You've knocked it outta the park, Meg. Gosh, that fabric and your Mum's work are just gorgeous! I'm honored your Mum chose a Divine Dinner Dress as worthy. Give her a huge shout-out from me!
    Coco

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    1. Yes, she's pretty amazing and has great taste in dress patterns - thank you!!

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  4. I just love this dress to the moon and back honestly. The fact it was your mom's painting that inspired you to get this fabric, you made a beautiful dress from it AND it's so fitting for your culture is so heart warming it touches me to the core. AND of course your dress is gorgeous!

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    1. Oh that is just the loveliest comment. You've made my day!

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  5. gorgeous, love the style and the choice of the artwork. It works beautifully - so pretty.

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  6. Dress is beautiful! Is there any way your mom could just paint directly on fabric, maybe silk, for you?

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    1. Wow, what a lovely idea. I'll see what she thinks!!

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  7. Wow, a one of a kind frock :) You wear it with pride - congratulations to you both. Sam the Aussie

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    1. Oh, thank you so much - I am rather proud of this one!

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  8. Meg, what a wonderful mother daughter collabouration and stunning dress! So very special in so many ways.

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    1. I'm so pleased you like it. Thank you so much x

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  9. I love this! It's the best of Australiana. Your mum is a very talented artist.

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    1. Ha ha, yes! I love everything Australiana. Thank you, yes she is

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  10. Wonderful collaboration!

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  11. This is incredible! A wonderful collaboration.

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  12. This is incredible! A wonderful collaboration.

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  13. Such a beautiful story for your dress! Love it!

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    1. It's wonderful when the stars align! Thank you x

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  14. May I suggest that your names be put forward to design the next Miss Australia/Miss Universe National dress.

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    1. Oh yes, I could have some fun with that. I'm thinking emu feathers for starters!

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  15. Wow, what a gorgeous dress. Unique and beautiful, its truly wearable art.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm blushing!

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  16. That is lovely fabric and I really like the mirrored image of the design. The resulting dress is really pretty and uniquely Australian.

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    1. Thank you Andrea. Yes, I'm so pleased I went with an Aussie theme as it's so personal and unique x

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  17. The whole process of creating this dress is just so impressive. A wonderful collaboration between mother and daughter, and the result is fabulous.

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  18. This is outstanding Megan!! my favourite thing of yours that you've made.. and a beautiful collaboration between mother and daughter. I'm certain you will treasure this work of art forever :) Thanks so much for the links to the pattern printing service too. that's bound to come in very handy someday *plotting plotting*

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    1. Wow, thank you Carolyn. I'm thrilled you think so!!

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  19. That's just exquisite! And how lovely to wear your mum's art :-P Looking forward to seeing the next collaborations.

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    1. They are already in the works! Thank you

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  20. Such a stunning dress, and I love that you collaborated with your Mum. This will become a family heirloom and some lucky daughter in law or granddaughter will inherit it one day and continue the story.

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  21. Gorgeous! The art is splendid and you chose the perfect pattern to showcase it !

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  22. Gorgeous dress. A real eyecatcher.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I value every single one.

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