Monday, February 18, 2019

Digital Printing: My New Year's Resolution

Every year I try to spend some time learning some new skill. 2019 is the year of mastering digitally printed fabric.

I've been doing my own printing with an ink jet printer for years and I designed a few prints for Spoonflower, which prints custom designs on quilt-weight cottons---or any fabric, paper, etc.

Here's a Spoonflower search for Penguin:

I can't say I've mastered digital printing yet. Or even come close. But it's early in 2019 and by the end of the year I hope to say I've made some progress in designing and printing.

 Hillary Clinton/Susan B. Anthony panel
about three years ago

Small panel for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, both these printed on my own printer.

7" x 10"
I did several small embroidered patron saints collages with my own prints.

One of my Spoonflower designs is this yardage
of quilt labels to cut and ink. Spoonflower is great because
they print, market and sell your designs for you, paying you a royalty.

I also want to understand the commercial market better. I've been looking at what the big quilt fabric companies are doing in digital printing. For the past forty years or so prints for quilters have been screen printed, a kind of stencil process. A four-color print requires four screens.

Griswold Printing in Rhode Island prints using silk screen technology.
But this process using human printers is not cutting edge.

Giant automatic flat bed screen printing machines are the standard today.

It's the kind of technology the U.S. has not invested in.

Which is why most of our quilt fabric printing is done in Asia.

Screen printing has limitations. Because screens have to be cut and stored fabric companies want to sell a good deal of each print to cover their investment. No small niche markets.

Screen printing at Finland's Marrimeko

The highest number of colors per print is about 20---20 screens. And the fabric has to fit the screen width. But screen printing does produce a beautiful piece of cotton with dense, colorfast printing (almost as sharp as the copper roller print introduced in the early 19th century and abandoned in the late 20th century).

 Jasonda digital printer

Digital printing is the future. No screens to cut, no storage (except digital). They make flat bed printers the width of your living room, so theoretically there are few limits to how wide the repeat can be. (Except, I guess, for fabric size.) There are no limits on number of colors. If a computer can generate the color the printer can print it. And small-run editions of a print are feasible.

Right now, there are several ways to buy digitally printed fabrics for your quilts.

"Baltimore House - Multi Digitally Printed Panel
by Paula Barnes for Marcus"

The big companies are experimenting. For example, Marcus has done a Paula Barnes reproduction collection digitally. Is this because reproduction fabrics are now such a minor market that a small run is feasible with this technology? Or just an experiment with new techniques?

Another digital Marcus line: Ki-Coo Gardens by Laura Berringer.

Fluttering from Hoffman's Digital Spectrum line

Hoffman has a whole series of digitally printed fabrics, taking advantage of the color range possible.
This makes me think we can do a better job of reproducing the classic rainbow prints of the 1840s, print style not really feasible with screens.

Mid-19th century rainbow print plaid

Jason Yenter of In The Beginning is doing quite a bit of commercial digital printing.

Spoonflower's Heat Setting Machinery

You can buy other designers' work or your own patterns on Spoonflower.

Fussy cutting Queen Victoria shirtings from Spoonflower

The Spoonflower prints I've ordered are on the same quality fabric we can buy commercially, same thread count, yarn size, etc. But, they do not have the same final finish we expect, so they feel somewhat different on the surface.

Steph Skardal wrote a post last month on Joanne Fabrics's new digital printing service:

And if you want to think bigger than that---there are many digital printing companies that will print your designs in large or small editions. You market; you sell. See Robert Kaufman's website here:

Another site is Contrado.

The digital printing, particularly the custom printed fabric, is more expensive and it looks like some of the commercial quilt fabric is about $1 more per yard than commercial screen-printed yardage. Perhaps that's the price we pay for being a niche market. The whole idea of doing repro or retro prints that would never sell over a few yards is very appealing.

I've observed that most of the Spoonflower prints are very much like what's hot in the retail fabric business, same colors, same styles. The idea of doing something that is not trendy is interesting.

The Queen Victoria prints at Spoonflower are my latest experiment.
I will keep you posted. I'm thinking chintz panels next.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stars in Her Crown #7: Arthur, Duke of Connaught

#7 Arthur by Becky Brown

"The First of May" painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter,
to celebrate Prince Arthur's first birthday and the Iron Duke's 82nd.

Victoria's seventh child Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert (1850-1942) was born on the birthday of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. The baby was named for the hero of Waterloo.

Arthur at 7 (posed as a Rafael angel in reverse)
I wonder if one could have persuaded Bertie and Affie to pose naked and wear lip rouge.

Queen Victoria played favorites and her third son, "lovely and engaging…sensible & clever,”
was "dearer than any of the others put together." 

After her husband, "the dearest and most precious object to me on earth."

The two youngest boys Leopold and Arthur in kilts
are at the bottom of the family photograph.

Portrait of Arthur by his sister Louise in 1869

Artist Louise was two years older than Arthur.
He also painted in watercolors. 

Arthur dreamed of soldiering and joined the army when he was sixteen. Ten years later his mother praised him: "I have excellent accounts of Arthur....He is called 'the model Prince' for his wonderfully steady and perfect conduct. He at least follows in his beloved father's footsteps as regards character and sense of duty."

Victoria created the title Duke of Connaught and Strathearn for him when he was 24. 

Arthur gave his mother little trouble until he fell in love with Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, a cousin of sister Vicky's husband. The Queen did not like her looks and frowned upon her scandalous parents who were separated. (Who is good enough for a favorite son?)
"I shall no doubt be reconciled to [the marriage]...and...no doubt be very fond of her. I wish she were prettier!"
Louise Margaret, Duchess of Connaught
by John Singer Sargent, 1908

Louise Margaret and Arthur had three children. Their eldest girl Margaret may have been the most successful of the royal grandchildren if we consider the long-term goals of  Uncle Leopold, Albert and Victoria for a Europe unified by cousins. Margaret married the heir to the Swedish throne; her offspring are the royal families of Sweden, Denmark and Greece.

Swedish Crown Prince Gustav Adolph of Sweden (1882-1973)
 with first wife Margaret of Connaught (1882-1920). 
She died in her sixth pregnancy at 38.

Victoria's descendants have occupied the thrones of
  • Britain
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Yugoslavia
The Block

#7 Arthur by Mark Lauer

The larger pattern is for a 12" Block; the smaller for an 8" Block.

To Print:
Create a word file or an empty JPG file.
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file 8-1/2" x 11". Check to be sure the inch square box measures 1".
You'll need 4 copies if you are going to piece it over paper foundations.

The block is constructed in triangles—-Triangles are flipped and pieced into squares, four to a block. Each pattern includes paper foundations for 8” & 12” blocks, which you can also use for template piecing. Add a 1/4” seam allowance when you cut the fabric using the templates
In Block #7 they are identical except four are flipped over.
And those four have different colors for Point A & B, white in one set in the sketch, brown in the other.

#7 Arthur by Denniele Bohannon

Textile of the Week

A cotton cretonne attributed to the Jubilee year
of 1887. As in last week's print the thistle, rose and shamrock
symbolize Great Britain.

This fabric is on the reverse of a quilt made by Australian Mary Ann Bruton (1851-1930).
See her quilt here:

Similar colors in a smaller scale print in a piece of patchwork
in the collection of the Quilters Guild, a typical Jubilee portrait.

Following sister Louise's husband, Arthur served a term
as Governor General of Canada and like Louise he
lived to be 91, dying during World War II, the last of the royal children.

Read a Book a Week:
Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages that Shaped Europe by Deborah Cadbury.
A preview:

Denniele's quilt is quilted, bound and going to the Chicago Quilt Festival
March  28-30, 2019.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Friendship Knot of Mystery

An interesting if miscellaneous quilt pattern.
This top from an online auction.

Here's the block.
Diamonds with a wedding ring like curve.

It's a variation of this one.

BlockBase #4047

A complex repeat (and complex piecing)

BlockBase tells me the pattern was published under two
different names in the mid-20th century.
Friendship Knot from the Laura Wheeler/Alice Brooks syndicate
and Friendship Wreath from Lockport Batting.

From Mary Koval's inventory

Despite the complexity many stitchers tackled it.

Project & the Quilt Index.

The block forms half a star with 4 diamonds. The lower
star points extend into wedding ring curves---4 pieces per durve.

Probably inspired by the Hands All Around antique
that Ruth Finley showed in her 1929 book.

Hands All Around variation
 BlockBase #4044 from the Arizona Project & the Quilt Index.
See a post about the older design #4044 here:

I'd say the version at the top of the page was someone's individual drawing
(3 shapes per arc; 2 diamonds instead of 4)

Except I have more photos of the variation with 2 diamonds than the Laura Wheeler design

I'm going to have to number this one BlockBase #4047.5

Jesse Earl Childers from the West Virginia
Project & the Quilt Index.

Again from the West Virginia project.

My BlockBase drawing for #4047 isn't that accurate so I am not going to give you a pattern.
But there are plenty of patterns for the design with 4 diamonds out there on the internet.

From a Field Guide to Quilts

Mary Holmes Fisk, St. Lawrence County, NY
The mystery design---
Has anyone ever seen it published before 1970.
It must have been!