Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spoonflower print fade (and why I don't mind it)

**edited to add Spoonflower's own response! see end**

I have mentioned how the Spoonflower organic cotton knit t-shirts I've made have faded over time, and I thought it might be useful to show what I mean.
Clem's caravan t-shirt on the left and Jasper's chemistry t-shirt on the right, with scraps of the original fabric (washed once before cutting). T-shirts straight off the line (excuse the wrinkles).

I made the t-shirts four months ago and they have been worn, washed and line-dried, I would guess, at least twenty times since then. Each has probably had a stain-removing soak or two as well.

Sure, it would be nice if the fabrics retained their original vibrancy. But, I also kind of like the faded look. The t-shirts are just a little less 'loud'. Let's face it, I don't choose the most subtle of prints. The colours fade nicely into the natural cream-coloured basecloth. And the fabric is still soft and lovely.

I suppose it probably has to do with the Spoonflower printing processes. To quote from their website:

"Spoonflower prints using eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks on natural fiber textiles."


I'm prepared to put up with some fade in fabric that has a lower environmental impact.


As Crinkled commented on my last post, "the fabric has faded more than I expected... but it certainly hasn't stopped me from buying more". Um, yeah, I second that!

I hope that's helpful to anyone reading who might have been wondering about the fading.

- Jane x

**UPDATE**
I emailed Spoonflower about the fading and had the following prompt reply and advice:
Jane,
Thanks for writing in about your experience with our printed knit fabric. You are right to say that the knit fabric is prone to fading in the wash. We wish that everyone could be so easy going about the issue as you are, and appreciate your fair treatment of the matter in your blog. The pigment wash out that occurs with the knit results from the bond being weakened by the stretching that occurs when the fabric is washed and agitated. I feel that gentle hand washing would be the most advisable with the knit. This is not an issue with our other fabrics as these are all woven fabrics which do not have the stretch of the knit. I do encourage you to consider another of our fabrics (organic cotton sateen is excellent) as an alternative with better pigment retention.
I hope that this is helpful, but please let me know if you have any other questions.
Best regards,
Stephen Beck
Spoonflower

19 comments:

  1. It is alot of fading but then they have been worn and washed alot too. They probably feel incredibly soft as well? I hate to think about all the environmentally damaging things that happen in the process of creating fabrics which is why my favorites are the ones from the op shop .

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    1. Yes they are incredibly soft but also retaining their shape well too. I have been thinking more lately about the environmental impact of new fabrics... I think these score well on being organic, thoughtfully printed and then extremely well-worn! I should have a try at repurposing knits too.

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  2. The fading actually adds to the tshirt, Jane!

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    1. Yeah thanks that's kind of what I think too! They still look great on. Jasper wore his out to the theatre last week because it was the 'best' thing he owned.

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  3. I like the fading too but it would be nice to know what to expect. It sounds like the fabric wear well though.

    I stumbled on an Australian Hand printed textile company this morning that have some gorgeous prints as well http://shop.inkandspindle.com.au/collections/apparel.

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  4. Hi, I'm just wondering what pattern you used for the t-shirts? I've recently started sewing clothes for my 8year old son and it's nice to get new ideas, these look great. Also, I agree, the fading looks fine, part of the character of the shirt.

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  5. ok, I just realised I missed your last post about which t-shirt pattern you use - opps! I'll have to track it down.

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    1. Hi Megan, yes it's the Ottobre Best T-shirts pattern and I think I got it from Crafty Mamas online. I have used it so much - I have practically every size traced off now! This pattern is probably best if you have an overlocker, but I know a lot of people manage without. The Figgy's Tee For Two pattern is a good one if you just have an ordinary sewing machine. There was a good series on sewing with knits on the Made By Rae website recently which might help, too!

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    2. Do you have any tips for anyone using the Ottobre Best T-shirts pattern without an overlocker? It certainly has a very profession look to it. Do you think you need an overlocker to achieve that look? How do you feel about your overlocker and do you use it a lot?

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    3. Hmm, I think I only bought this pattern after buying my overlocker. It does have instructions on there for using a regular sewing machine though. If you have a modern machine that has a specific 'stretch' stitch you might have more luck than I ever had trying zigzag stitch on my old machines. Plus I learned the hard way that cotton thread is not really strong enough for stretchy fabrics. You really need polyester.
      I bought a used overlocker from my local sewing machine service place, it's a Singer from the 1980s and cost me $250 a couple of years ago. It was kind of baffling at first but you just have to dive in and work it out and thread it and such and then it becomes less scary. I wouldn't be without it now. I have it sitting out ready all the time. It's even good for running over the edges of woven fabrics before pre-washing them to stop them fraying in the wash.
      And then a little while ago I invested in a coverstitch machine for doing hems on knits. It's pretty hard to justify really, it was terribly expensive. I looked for secondhand but apparently they pretty much never come up. So I bought again from my local machne repair shop/dealer because I know they will help me out with any problems. It's been great but really, quite an indulgence and I feel a bit guilty every time I mention it!!

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  6. These fabrics have a lot going for them, so the fading doesn't detract too much, although I sure love bright colors!

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  7. Lovely shirts you have done!I have designed over 300 prints in Spoonflower now and ordered lot of different kind fabrics with my design, but managed to sew just one t-shirt for my little 3year old girl yet,a rainbow coloured chevron design which she 'made' with me in computer.. Reading your posts makes me promise to my self that this weekend i'll do another t-shirt as i have planned!! :) Thanks for inspiration! I hope you dont mind if i leave a link to my spoonflower.com collection. Greetings from Finland, Northern Europe. Hanna-Kaisa

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  8. Wow. That's interesting to know. Spoonflower yardage certainly costs a lot more than most and then this? I definitely wouldn't be as easy going about it as you are! And I don't have time to hand things like T-shirts! But those prints are adorable!

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  10. I have to say, I have some SF cotton canvas, and it faded like CRAZY. As in, washed once, cold water, delicate cycle, with seventh generation he detergent, and the design faded quite noticeably. While I don't necessarily think it's end of the world, it does affect what patterns I'll print with them for the future.

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    1. Oh, I am disappointed to hear that :(

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Hey, I would really love to know what you think. Go on!

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