Monday, June 11, 2012

Tutorial: How to turn a vacation photo into a cotton silk summer dress

 This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful shows us how she turned a vacation photo into a summer dress.




I love the graphic photo print fabrics being used for all kinds of clothing items and accessories at the moment.  Although I am sometimes guilty of falling into the gray-black-white comfort zone combo when it comes to the colors in my wardrobe, there’s nothing like a bright splash of color to lift the spirits, put a smile on your face, and make you feel like summer is on its way! Rather than buying a dress in a store, I went a step further by immortalizing a simple vacation photo I took earlier this year and having it printed onto Spoonflower’s beautiful cotton silk blend.
I felt that this photo in particular was well composed for clothing potential, with a good contrast between the land, sea and sky, and with most of the ‘action’ towards the bottom edge of the picture.

You may have realized before now that I am a graphic design novice and that most of my projects involve software that either came on my computer when I bought it or that I have downloaded for free from various online sources. I am always looking for ways to push my computer to its limits and come up with design methods that bypass the typical Photoshop or Illustrator route that I neither own nor know how to use.
I began by editing my photo in Picasa and using the posterize option under their image processing tab, the photo became more graphic with high contrast and dramatic colors. I also rotated the photo as the landscape orientation worked better for my dress pattern layout.

 After saving this version, I opened it up in Paint (yes, really!) where, under the resize option, I was able to increase the size of the photo. I worked out that if I sized up the photo to fit on 1.5 yards of cotton silk and set the design to basic repeat, 3 yards would give me enough fabric to sew up this Pleat Front Dress by Salme, and allow me a bit of extra room for good pattern placement and matching. 

Spoonflower produces a good quality print at 150 dpi so in order to make this photo fit 1.5 yards of fabric, you have to do a bit of math, which is easy if you have a calculator. And I do! The cotton-silk is 40” wide and 1.5 yards is 54” in length, so to resize the fabric I multiplied 40 by 150 (which give the dpi for the width) and then I multiplied 54 by 150 (which gave me the dpi for the length).
40 x 150 = 6000
54 x 150 = 8100
In Paint, I set the resize measurements to 6000 x 8100 with the ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ tab clicked off.

 I then saved the file and uploaded it to my Spoonflower account. Once I set the fabric to print onto 3 yards of Cotton-Silk with a basic repeat, the photo fitted perfectly with a join line down the center that I knew I would be able to avoid when considering my pattern placement.

I’m now thinking about other kinds of landscape photographs that I may have that could be used in a similar way. I’m sure I have plenty of cityscapes and skyscrapers but market crowds, rainforests, underwater scenes or even sports stadiums printed onto clothing or accessories would certainly be a great conversation starter. What sceneries would you use?

About Our Guest Blogger

Emma Jeffery, Spoonflower guest bloggerHi! I'm Emma, and as well as working on the Fiskars Design Team, I blog over at
I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.

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