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Embracing Independent Fabric Designs in your Quilting and Sewing Projects

In the vast landscape of fabric shopping, there's always another hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The main fabric companies have done a good job of keeping us buying each new collection, which seem to come and go from our Instagram feeds and indeed the stores in the blink of an eye. Honestly, from this quilters perspective, sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

But what if I told you there is a whole host of designs that you may not have ever considered, with greater choice? While mainstream options abound, there's something truly special about sourcing fabrics from companies that support independent designers like Spoonflower, Raspberry Creek Fabrics, 3am Threads or Cloth Cuts. An added bonus, when you purchase fabrics from independent designers, you’re not just buying a product – you’re supporting a passion. Your investment directly contributes to the livelihood of the artists and creators who designed them, allowing them to continue pursuing their craft and sharing their talents with the world, and these talented people are indeed, all over the globe.

An example of quilt fabric from a big manufacturer.  These prints come and go very fast and can be hard to find once they are out of print.

As quilters and sewers, one of the biggest advantages to buying from an independent designer is the flexibility they offer. While the fabrics you see in the local retail stores are fixed in the colours and scale of the prints available, independent designers often offer free re-scaling, or re-colouring of their designs - you just have to ask. So if you see a design you really like, but the print is too large, or it's the wrong colour, you can reach out to the designer and ask if they can make it smaller, or if it can be recoloured to suit your tastes and/or project (and who knows you might make a new crafty friend in the process). Plus if you run out of fabric mid-project, it's more than likely that you will be able to order more, as unlike the fabric collections from fabric companies like Riley Blake or Moda, independent designers don't do limited runs, most designs are here to stay and able to be printed on demand so you can always order more.

If you have never considered supporting independent designers, you might not be aware of some of the beautiful designs and collections that are available. There are so many to choose from, that it's hard to narrow it down to just a few so I really encourage you to go and have a look for yourself at just how many different designs are available. Here's a snippet of some of my favourite collections to give you an example:

Back to School Nostalgia Prints by Jeanette from Amorphous Media Art are a really cute collection of designs that lend themselves to quilting but are versatile enough to work as me-made clothing as well.

Back to School Nostalgia is a cute fabric collection which would look fantastic in a quilt.

If you prefer something a bit more tasty Fruits by Kasia Borkowska from Patterns of Love is a mouthwatering and cute collection that would work really well in small areas like geometric quilt blocks (or the background of my Cherry Quilt Block!). I'm sure you would agree that these designs would also be perfect for handmade oven gloves or placemats, and would make really cute handmade Christmas gifts.

Fruits fabrics come in many different colour combinations.

If you want more traditional floral, then there are lots of floral designs. to choose from. One that I like is the Sweet as Honey collection by Sassy Kea Designs. Why do I like it so much? Those bees are just so damn gorgeous, and the collection has a lovely balance of colour and I could see some of that Bee fabric making a gorgeous low-volume addition to a garden quilt.

Cute honey bee fabrics with some florals.

Another gorgeous floral collection is Bloom and Blossom by Carey Copeland. There are 51 designs in this collection at the time I wrote this blog, but another cool thing about independent designers is that they will sometimes add more to collections over time. I'm a sucker for Pink fabrics, so you know that the Pink Herringbone fabric in this collection immediately got my attention as a quilt blender fabric, however, I could see that colourful hero print working as a pretty top or summer dress:

Bloom and Blossom is a beautiful fabric collection for quilting and apparel sewers

If you like a more retro feel then you might like Poolside Florals by Julie Jane. These prints are bold and eye-catching and certainly have a party vibe to them. For the apparel sewers out there, it is probably worth noting that when you order from a platform that supports independent designers, you can get the designs printed on a range of fabric types, not just quilting cotton, so if you wanted to make swimwear from these prints, then you can just choose the fabric type that suits your sewing project best:

Beautiful floral prints and striped fabric by Julie Jane.

Speaking of retro, another collection I love is Candy Pop Florals by Jac Slade. Jac is an Australian-based designer and her gorgeous floral prints are perfect together with the geometric blue, green and yellow blenders shown in this collection. I could easily see this collection being used in a cute geometric quilt pattern or a laptop bag like the one here in Issue 7 of Make Modern Magazine. The Candy Pop Florals give me a 60s vibe, and I think it is absolutely stunning. Be assured some of the prints in this collection are likely to end up in my fabric stash at some point!

Candy Pop Florals by Jac Slade is a great range of quilting fabrics.

One of the downsides to ordering from independent designs is that you do have to wait for the fabric to be printed and shipped, so there’s not that instantaneous gratification of holding the fabric in your hand and starting your project straight away. As an example, way back in 2020 (during the height of the pandemic), I ordered samples of my own Vintage Pastel Flowers collection from Spoonflower and I had to wait more than ten weeks for the fabric to be printed and shipped to New Zealand. I know it would probably be quicker if I lived in the United States. Of course that was also during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and shipping times have significantly improved since then, although you will still have a bit of a wait to endure before these pretty parcels of fabric arrive in your stash. The bright side of waiting is that when it does arrive it’s like a fun little present you got for yourself! I still think it was worth the wait to get my hands on these juicy little quilt blenders, but it did feel like a long time.

Vintage floral fabrics are great for quilting projects. These have white hand drawn flowers, pastel pinks and blues for background and are available on Spoonflower.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the great things about searching through platforms that support independent designers is the variety, while many of the collections above are quite bright and cheery, if you are looking for more of a gothic and moody vibe, you can be sure there’s a fabric design that will suit you as well. Check out these Time Travelling Witches designs by Eejee Art as an example:

A dark and moody collection of fabrics perfect for Halloween.

These designs are scaled so what you see here would be a folded Fat Quarter and I think they would be brilliant in a Halloween Quilt. Speaking of scale, remember I mentioned earlier that many artists will happily adjust the scale to suit a project? Well, these designs also come in a larger print for quilt backings too!

The collections I have shown in this blog post are really just a small (in fact, tiny) sample of the types of designs you can get from independent designers. I hope you've found some fabric designs in the collections above that will inspire your next quilting or sewing project, but I have to note that I haven’t even scratched the surface here and there are soooo many more designs out there to discover. If you're searching for the perfect design, consider delving into the world of independent designers through platforms such as Spoonflower. They offer numerous benefits, from unique designs to supporting creativity and fostering community connections. You might even discover the next great designer before they're recognized by larger fabric companies! So, why not add a touch of individuality and inspiration to your next project by choosing fabrics from independent designers?

Happy Quilting, Rachel

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links for products and services that I trust and use myself. If you purchase an item via one of these links it will not cost you any extra, however in some cases, I may earn a small commission which helps me fund my quilting habits. Thanks for your understanding!