Workamper Fabrics

My friends and co-workers, Katherine Plahmer and Rosanne Curran, are also quilters.  Each of them has taken me to Barn Door Quilts in Sturgeon Bay.  In fact, Rosanne went to school with the owner so she introduced me to her.  I have been to a couple of quilt stores here in Door County and have hoped they’d have some fabric that typified Door County.  The closest I’ve come is cherry fabric and nautical fabric.  

I recently got the idea to design my own fabric from my photos.  Earlier when I was looking for specialized fabrics for the quilt I made for my nephew, I was told about Spoonflower.com.  They will print your design on whatever kind of fabric you ask them to.  I didn’t use it for my nephew’s quilt, but I thought about it when I was considering designing my own fabrics.  I created an account there and entitled my account Workamper Fabrics.

The first fabric I designed was a collage of the fireworks shots I took at the Fyr Bal in Ephraim on the summer solstice.  First I ordered just a swatch to see what it would look like.  As a collage, the pictures came out very small but since they all had basically black backgrounds I figured it could be an all-over small print.  I showed it to Rosanne to see what she thought and she liked it, so I ordered a yard of it.  Kathy said she’d put it in our camp store if I want to try to sell it and I thought this would be a good place to try it out and see if it’s sellable.

While I was waiting for the yard of fabric to arrive, I ordered some printable labels from Avery.  When they arrived, I was able to look online for some label templates and design a label for fat quarters.

For those of you who don’t know what a fat quarter is, it’s a yard of fabric cut lengthwise and widthwise into four pieces.  It’s a good way for quilters to sample a lot of fabrics for not too much money.  As I was working on pricing my fat quarters, though, I realized that to break even I’d have to sell my fat quarters for twice as much as fat quarters usually sell for.  Part of this is because I chose the very finest cotton fabric, but part of it is because I’m a little nervous about buying it in large enough quantities to get a better discount.  I want to test it out first and see if it will sell.  Hopefully later I can sell it for less.  In the meantime, this is a labor of love.  I’m not going to get rich off it at this rate!

I got the fabric and printed the labels, and today I finally put them together.  I had bought a fat quarter at Siever’s on Washington Island and left it folded the way they had it so I could copy it.  First I cut the yard into four quarters and ironed out the folds that were already in it.

The full yard before I cut it.

One quarter with the folds for a yard in it.

I ironed out the original folds.

I ironed out the original folds.

Then using a store bought fat quarter as an example, I began ironing in new folds.

Then using a store bought fat quarter as an example, I began ironing in new folds.

I thought the way they finished this off was really clever.

I thought the way they finished this off was really clever.

They tucked the raw end into the folded end to form a little pocket.

They tucked the raw end into the folded end to form a little pocket.

Once I had the fat quarter folded to the correct size I needed to attach the label.  The kind of labels I had ordered from Avery stick very well and I didn’t want them to gum up the fabric, so I used some tissue paper to attach the label to.

Folding the tissue paper around the fabric.

Folding the tissue paper around the fabric.

Attaching the label; this is the front side...

Attaching the label; this is the front side…

...and this is the back side.

…and this is the back side.

Notice that I named this fabric Fyr Bal, Ephraim, WI.  It’s made of cotton lawn ultra and I included a brief explanation of what “Fyr Bal” is.

Before taking my fabric up to the store, I got to thinking that I should print a picture of the design so that people wouldn’t feel like they needed to take the packaging apart to see it.  When I finished with the whole presentation, I took it to the office/store and asked Kathy where I could put it.  She cleared some room for it on the gift shelf.

It may not look like much, but it's a start!

It may not look like much, but it’s a start!

This is an enlargement of the design.

This is an enlargement of the design.

I know it’s late in the season to be trying this.  I should have started at the beginning of the summer, but I have two other prints in the works and I can make more before next summer and have an assortment to start the summer with.  All of my prints will also be on sale on Spoonflower.com, so if you or someone you know might be interested in buying my fabrics, you could direct them there and tell them to look under Workamperfabrics.

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