Shop Local: Spoonflower

May 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm (Shop Local)

If you read last week’s post, you know that I am designing an accessory line. My “vision” for the line is to incorporate the some of the same imagery I use in The Ephemera Jewelry Collection. Since most fabrics with images fall under the “novelty fabric” category and are woven lightweight cotton (too light for a purse), I decided to design my own fabric. I found two companies online who  print custom fabric (Fabric on Demand and Spoonflower), and luckily one of them happens to be based in Durham, North Carolina.

Spoonflower was started in 2008 in a sock mill in Mebane, North Carolina. In 2010, the company moved to Durham, North Carolina.

Spoonflower makes it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric designs. There are no minimum orders, and fabric prices range from $18 to $32 per yard ($5 per swatch).

My first fabric swatches arrived last week. I designed the fabric using a free image editing software program called I then created a free Spoonflower account, uploaded my designs, and waited for my fabric to arrive.

Custom printed fabric swatches.

The “Arithmetique” fabric design is printed on a bright white upholstery-weight twill fabric, while the “Carte Postale” design is printed on an off-white linen-cotton canvas. Either of these fabrics would work for my purposes (purse design). [I also liked Spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen fabric, which would work for a lining, but prefer Fabric on Demand’s polyester satin for a lining.] While I am extremely satisfied with Spoonflower’s finished product, and will continue to use them based on quality alone, the only downside to working with them was the turnaround time. I ordered my fabric swatches on April 12th. The finished fabric came last week (almost a month later). When I called Spoonflower last week to express my concerns, they assured me they were working on expediting their turnaround times and should have this issue resolved by the end of next month. They also told me in the meantime that I could expedite shipping for a nominal fee ($10). In all fairness to Fabric on Demand, their turnaround time is ten days from approval. Having ordered swatches from them as well, I can attest to the fact that I received my custom printed fabric swatches in about 10 days. They also have the ability to print on fabrics that Spoonflower doesn’t, including lycra/spandex and micro-denier suede.

Still, Spoonflower is a local company and its community of independent fabric designers from around the world now numbers 150,000.

“Spoonflower is a start-up and a work in progress. Its growth has been made possible by the enthusiasm of a worldwide community of people who are passionate about fabric, design and making things. Along the way it has also received help, support and advice from lots of friendly people and organizations, including [TC]2,, North Carolina State University College of Textiles, and Expand Systems. Suggestions and feedback are always welcome and appreciated.”

“The marketplace for fabric created by independent designers that we launched in the fall of 2009 has now blossomed into the largest collection of indie-designed fabrics available anywhere in the world,” writes Spoonflower Co-Founder Stephen Fraser.

For more information on Spoonflower, visit their website at or call (919) 886-7885. While Spoonflower isn’t open to the public, you can set up a tour of their printing facilities by e-mailing

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