Thursday, August 26, 2010

Omiyage Bags, Set 1

As I mentioned in the last post, Spoonflower is not the only business to print fabric on demand in small amounts. And I have decided to test as many of them out as I can; this has turned into an ongoing, and very slow project.

At some point in my infrequent browsing through craft books in bookstore, I came across "The Perfect Bag" by Linda McGehee [GoogleBooks,B&N,Amazon]. Well, I managed to find this book in my current local library not too long ago, during one of my browses through the craft section.

I also came across "Omiyage: Handmade Gifts from Fabric in the Japanese Tradition" by Kumiko Sudo [GoogleBooks,B&N,Amazon]. I'm not much of a purse person -- I have one purse that I use constantly (it occasionally switches, approximately every 2-5 years I think) -- but Omiyage completely captured me. The only problem is that nearly all the projects involve a whole bunch of piecing. I got taken with a quilt/piecing bug once, and made myself a chair cushion cover; I have since lost nearly all interest in projects that involve piecing (the prospect of crazy quilting still has me captured though). To eliminate the piecing problem of those fantastic bags, I decided to make a cheater print of custom fabric. And since I had almost 50 designs by this point, I decided to try and use them all as a sort of sampler.

So I laid out the necessary pieces for 6 bags from the Omiyage book, and one purse/bag based on what I remembered from The Perfect Bag. Originally I was going to print them out through Spoonflower, but I wanted a slightly heavier weight fabric than their quilting cotton (and I didn't want to pay the price for the cotton sateen). So I took a look at Fabric On Demand, which offers a 62" wide 6oz cotton poplin for $16.75 (probably the best price per cloth area I've seen).

Well, I immediately ran into a problem with their purchasing system: images can only be uploaded if they are less than 10Mb in size. Now I could manage this despite the 62" by 36" image at 150 dpi, if I converted the image to jpeg format, but I noticed this caused aliasing (of the solid areas) and general blurryness (of the finely detailed areas). So I emailed them, and got a response back fairly quickly with some alternate ways of dealing with large files. I decided to email the file after placing the order, but this still left me with the problem that Yahoo and GMail have a max attachment size of 25Mb. Eventually I figured out to remove the alpha channel information from the file (using GIMP), and recompress it at the max setting. This got my file down to 24.8Mb.

A week and a half later (or thereabouts) my fabric showed up.

Some of the designs seemed kind of fuzzy. I don't know if this is because my file was 150 dpi, or because they do some image conversion in the process. There also appeared to be a slight registration problem (two dyes were printed slightly off from one another rather than directly on top of each other). Not particularly noticeable in the general sense. Because of the blurring on the fine lines, I'm going to do a direct comparison between Spoonflower and FoD at some point (soon). On the snake image below the scales are supposed to show up in the entire background area, and they've been blurred out of existence on the fabric.

I decided to wash the fabric before actually sewing the bags together. After washing I noticed a couple additional problems. First, some white patchy areas appeared. I may have accidently dumped detergent directly on top of the printed area, but that still means the printing is not quite as color-fast I as would expect. I didn't notice any bleeding of the color onto the white border, so its probably (mostly) color-fast, however.

I also noticed a few small white dots appeared. My best quess is that some of the dye was printed onto surface lint or fuzz, and that the fuzz was washed off.

Since I didn't wash my Spoonflower order, I can't really compare the two businesses with regards to printing quality (yet).

At this point, I've sewn up my first two bags. As I was sewing I noticed that my squares were no longer square: the image had gotten slightly squished in one direction. Perhaps because of the header they added? Or maybe just an error? I haven't gotten an answer back yet. It hasn't been much of a problem thus far.

Here is 'Panache' from the Omiyage book:

Also, I added a small pocket on the inside so that I am not constantly losing my keys to the bottom of the bag. I failed to remember one of the pieces, so the bottom of the lining is just some extra white fabric.
And 'Marbles':

The 6oz cotton is pretty dense, and by the end of these two bags I had a sore spot on my thumb from pushing and pulling the needle. So I had to put the remaining bags aside for the time being. Next: 'Pinecone', 'Conpaito', 'Candy Twist', and the Mojave Green purse. I haven't yet decided what to do about the splotches on the fabric for 'Double Petal Sakura'; the fabrics printed out much darker than I had intended and the gear designs have kind of vanished.

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