Friday, January 23, 2009

The Tetris-Style Border Print Fabric Experiment

I searched everywhere for Tetris-style fabric, but I could never find it. Finally, I had it made by the nice folks at Spoonflower. They will custom print your image on cotton yardage in very small runs! It's an instant-gratification dream.

I worked with Beth, aka MissBlackPepper at Etsy, to make a repeating border print design that meets the specifications of the Spoonflower system. I probably could have struggled through the design process in Photoshop by myself, but it was much easier and faster to work with Beth.

Through e-mail and Etsy conversations, I explained what I wanted, keeping in mind that the less mind-reading Beth had to do, the faster the process would go. I requested that the pieces be made up of 1/2" blocks, with some empty black space at the top, an increasingly heavy distribution of falling pieces toward the bottom, and about 6" of stacked blocks along the bottom edge. Of course, the stacked blocks at the bottom couldn't be completely solid, otherwise the lines would clear! (Yes, I'm a big dork. I know.) Beth had recommendations about what colors would print best on the Spoonflower system and how wide the repeat could be before the file size got too big for Spoonflower to handle. I'm glad one of us knew what she was doing!

Beth and I corresponded back and forth a few times as the design progressed.

After a few exchanges, she sent me a version of the file for approval:

I then uploaded it to Spoonflower to make sure that the repeating design was seamless and that the file would upload correctly. It was perfect. Thanks, Beth!

I ordered three yards of my dream fabric. Two weeks later, my fabric arrived. At $18/yd it's way more expensive than my usual fabrics, but it's so worth it to have exactly what I have been searching for!

Ok, so the black is a little grayish and there are a few very subtle streaks in some of the stronger colors. I don't care. I'm thrilled. Once I decide what to make, I will wear this fabric until it fades and falls apart! And then I'll have more printed and make something new, because I can!

And finally, I think the world needs Tetris-style fabric. If you are interested in having Spoonflower print some for your own personal, non-commercial use (and you promise not to do anything that would result in a copyright problem), e-mail me and I'll share the Spoonflower-ready file with you. Seriously. For free. Really!

UPDATE: Just to be on the safe side, I'm releasing my Tetris-style fabric design file under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. If you get a copy of the file, you are free to use, share, and remix the design for your own non-commercial projects. If you make a new design derived from this design, please attribute the original design to me. (When I commisioned MissBlackPepper to create the custom design, I purchased the rights to the resulting design from her.) Your derivative work should be released under a similar Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike license.

UPDATE #2: Erin at A Dress A Day is hosting the file for me. You don't have to send me an e-mail, you can just go download it here. Even more instant gratification, and it's still free!

UPDATE #3: The Tetris fabric is available on Spoonflower!


Geertje said...

Absolutely brilliant! I may have to take you up on your offer of sharing the Spoonflower file.
Personally, I would not make the shift dress, for fear of not having enough fabric to complete the lovely 40s dress.
Now I have to go browse the border print dresses in the Vintage Sewing Wiki (btw, thanks for that! I have a black and white rose border print that I don't know what to do with, and I hope I'll find some inspiration! I realise I am not using the Wiki as much as I could...)

Minnie said...

this will be the most brilliant dress ever. omg! i cant wait to see pics.the fabric came out amazingly!

A said...

Love it!!! Can't wait to see it in person!

Webfrau said...

Fantastic idea. Inspired!

KateS said...

Hi Jenny
Just letting you know that I have nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award thats doing the rounds at the moment. Thanks for a great blog (and I LOVE that fabric!!!!)

WabiArt said...

i LOVE tetris and absolutely LOVE this fabric - have not tried Spoonflower yet, but am intrigued by it ~ if i can figure out what to make i'd love to get some of your fabric - maybe a wall hanging or quilt or some such -

a little sewing on the side said...


Fiona (Tetris addict) said...

Oh my God. Tetris. Tetris fabric.


pnutbutter said...

Totally aweseom idea!
Check out
Great pricing - only $16.75/yard for cotton - and a lot more fabric to choose from.

jaybird said...

what a great way to use spoonflower!! i love that site!

Mackenzie said...


There is a market for geeky fabric. This could be cheaper than $18/yd if some company was willing to make bulk quantities of it. Ditto on (ex) binary fabric. Or fabric with computer mice all over.

Anonymous said...

It's now my absolute goal to make a dress with this fabric! I wanted to say what an amazing job you did in thinking this up, and bringing it to life, and bringing it to the public! You should be fiercely proud the design is perfect. Thank you!

I'm also trying to figure out the perfect pattern, that is sparing with the fabric, Spoonflower though filled with incredible perhaps a bit more spendy then my usual bargain bin findings at the local fabric store.

Anyhow I look forward to your rendition. And wanted to tell you I've enjoyed reading your blogs.

I'm a beginner in the sewing world (under the tutelage of my crafty Mom) and it's nice to know that other people battle with strange patterns and even once a dress is made, there's kind of a feeling of homemade dress insecurity when wearing something for the first time.


Trumbelina said...

This has always been a favorite of mine on Spoonflower. It's nice to know where it comes from!