UPPERCASE Magazine Issue 21

on April 27 | in Contests & Giveaways, Sewing Trends, Small Business Ideas | by | with 69 Comments

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks!

It’s time again for our monthly UPPERCASE giveaway! We know many of you have become fans of this great magazine and if the social media buzz is any indication, you enjoyed Issue 21 as much as we did. In addition to the great articles about craft, style and print that we always enjoy in UPPERCASE, the latest issue includes an UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide! It’s full of gorgeous designs and expert advice from industry professionals.

The beautiful ceramics on the cover are by artist Molly Hatch.

The highlight of the latest issue is the art of 100 amazing artists. Here’s a short video from UPPERCASE about the Surface Pattern Design Guide and how to stand out as a surface pattern designer:

You can get a full look at the complete issue here, and you can start your subscription with Issue 21 here.

I’m honored to be included as an industry expert in Issue 21. When the UPPERCASE editor, Janine Vangool, asked me if I’d like to write “10 Expert Tips” for the Design Guide, she left it wide open as to what those tips might be, but I immediately knew what I’d like to say. As a buyer for an online fabric store for eight years, I would shop for new collections quarterly. Typically, reps would show me designs on paper, and sometimes on fabric. From a quick glance of a small sample, I would have to decide whether or not the fabric would sell well to our customers. Very often I would say to myself, “This artist is very talented but they most definitely don’t sew.” Designers who transition from other industries (scrapbooking, wall paper, greeting cards, etc.) often miss the mark when it comes to designing for fabric. I therefore came up with 10 questions to consider if you’re trying to market your designs to the sewing industry:

    1. How will the design read if it’s cut and sewn sideways or upside down?
    2. Are the colors going to coordinate with other fabrics already on the market?
    3. Are there opportunities for fussy cutting?
    4. Is the repeat subtle?
    5. Is the scale going to work for a variety of projects?
    6. Will the design work if it’s printed on stretchy fabrics or worn over curves?
    7. Are the illustrations on-trend?
    8. If it’s a collection of prints, does it tell a story or evoke a mood?
    9. If it’s a collection, are there coordinating designs to support the feature prints?
    10. Does it inspire?

(See Issue 21 of UPPERCASE to read more about each of these questions and my advice to designers.)

What do you think? Do any of our tips about fabric design jump out at you as being particularly important? Do you disagree with any of them? Are there other things you wish designers would consider when they’re working on a fabric collection? Add your thoughts in the comments for a chance to win an issue of UPPERCASE!

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69 Responses to UPPERCASE Magazine Issue 21

  1. Sophie says:

    I was surprised a little by the advice to follow trends, but it explains why sometimes some colors disappear from quilt shop shelves if they just aren’t trendy enough.

  2. Jane Housham says:

    Those are all excellent tips. I would suggest also looking at any design from different distances as sometimes what looks beautifully ‘random’ close to can do odd things from further away and coalesce into odd clumps of colour that can disturb the eye. I think the advice to think about how it will work on different bodies and when printed on different types of fabric is very good advice, perhaps often overlooked.

  3. Megan says:

    Idea number 4 is something I look at when buying fabric. I sew mostly clothes and don’t like the like of very obvious repeats.

  4. Gill says:

    This looks a great magazine – I’d love to learn more!

  5. cindy says:

    Thanks for the contest, would love to know more about design. This is new for me.

  6. patty says:

    I found all the tips interesting because it revealed information I had never thought about when it comes to design. I buy fabrics that appeal to me and now I could ask myself these questions and get a better understanding of why I like what I like and why some fabric I don’t like.

  7. Janelle says:

    Numbers 1 and 5 are to most important for me since I may not know what project I will use the fabric for, and I would like to get the most out of the fabric I’m choosing.

  8. Amy says:

    Wow! This looks like a really fabulous issue. Hoping I can get my hands on a copy. In terms of your tips, I think #s 8 and 10 are most important. If the patterns truly tell a story and inspire, then some of the other tips could even be ignored. All of them seem like good things to consider, though. Thanks for the great post. I’m feeling inspired!!

  9. Dawn L says:

    I’ve found that a lot of old clothing patterns (especially the ones for children) are classic in cut – using one of these fantastic designs makes it the ultimate in “modern cool”. Classic, simple cuts – but go crazy with the fabric rather than embellishments.

  10. Bee Williams says:

    I’ve never heard of UPPERCASE before. I was so missing out! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’d love to win one!

  11. Jess says:

    I like it when there is some variety in the colors in the set. Sometimes I see fabric collections and if you stand a few feet away, they all look just about the same; I don’t like being constricted to that much blurriness.

  12. Kathy Davis says:

    All thought provoking, but the one that interests me the most is #3 about fussy cutting. I do a lot of this and not all fabric falls into this category.

  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the tips — nothing stood out to me right now, but my brain is feeling like mush this evening. 🙂 Also, thanks for the giveaway. 🙂

  14. Emily C says:

    I love the question about will the colors work with others already out. I sometimes find matching colors very difficult.

  15. Alice Hale says:

    Sometimes a fabric collection can be too monochromatic. I once bought a certain color way of a collection and I realized I needed to go outside the collection for some contrast or else my quilt would have been very bland. So I think building in some contrast with complimentary colors is important.

  16. These are such amazing tips! Myself not being a fabric designer never thought of how much thought needs to go into each pattern, but I totally agree with your tips, I think those are really important things to consider!

  17. Christy Dixon says:

    Fabulous questions! I would never have thought of those yet each is so important!

  18. Dawn H says:

    Your list of 10 Questions is excellent! You thought of many things that I wouldn’t have.

  19. Jamie Vowell says:

    Just a wonderful magazine – and I can’t wait to read about surface/pattern design! I agree #5 is important – as designers have to think of the end products that will be created! Jamie V in MT

  20. Roxanne says:

    Great tips. I think it is important to have coordinating prints to support the focus fabric and those fabrics should be a good selection of light, medium, and dark. There also should be scale among the fabrics.

  21. britney lynn says:

    having a nice variety of bold and more subtle blender prints helps to keep things interesting. it’s nice to have something other than solids to mix with.

  22. sangeetha says:

    Great list #10 should be 1a) 2a) 3a)….lol

  23. Susan says:

    None of these points was a lightbulb moment. I guess I think about these some when I pick fabrics for a certain project. I often see a line of fabric that may be following these points, but I might only like one or two prints in the line. I don’t think a fabric line needs to coordinate with everything else out there. Who wants all the same stuff?

  24. auschick says:

    Great tips! I think also as fabric hoarders, ahem, sewists, it’s important to follow many of these tips too. I have many beautiful prints but no coordinates, and also many with a print that is too big for many of the things I currently sew.

  25. Jennyroo says:

    Love! I am especially thinking these days before I buy fabric if it will work cut horizontally AND vertically. I have a strong personal preference towards non-directional prints…

  26. Melissa says:

    I love surface design. Thanks for this great opportunity!

  27. Judi Duncan says:

    comment number one…what will it look like upside down…I usually buy fabric just because I like it, without a project in mind so I never know in advance how it will be put together

  28. What a great list of topics for designers to consider! This looks like a fantastic issue!

  29. Karen B says:

    I think #5 is very important. Sometimes I fall in love with a fabric, then realize that I can’t do with it what i want to do with it because of the scale. It’s hard to have a fabric that works well on a huge range (say, 2″ strips to full width for curtains), but there should be some flexibility.

  30. pam says:

    i love this perspective …i always think about scale and contrast and how it will piece in a quilt but this gives me more to consider.. really enjoyed the video too…fingers crossed xo

  31. Ruthann says:

    I am just starting to design my own quilts and this magazine would be such a good inspiration. Thanks for the chance to win!

  32. Veronica C. says:

    Great tips! I guess I’m sometimes concerned with things like the ability to match a pattern if needed. Another thing I love is seeing fabrics that have the potential to use either right or “wrong” side in garments (Oonaballoona does a great job with this). But other than that, if it fits my personal style and aesthetic, I just go with it!

  33. kris says:

    Great tips. I know that I think about many of them when I go to cut fabrics for different projects. I like the idea of windows cut out of cardboard to view what you might be using it for. Long skinny strips to short square windows lets you know if you can fussy cut something or use the piece for different design elements. Scale is very important to me when choosing fabrics also.

  34. stefaniegrrr says:

    I’m still really new to sewing, so I’m not sure I have valuable input on the subject, but I am very excited to check out this magazine! Thanks for the giveaway!

  35. Wendy says:

    I like small prints for garments but also love large prints for other sewing projects. I do think how the print will look upside down is important.

  36. Bekk says:

    Nice tips. I’m in the process of designing some fabric for an competition at the moment so this is useful.

  37. marilyn says:

    looks like an awesome magazine

  38. Jessica says:

    fantastic tips!

  39. Bergere says:

    Thank you so much for the video and for the listing of the design questions. SOOO helpful. Helpful not only in fabric design, but in quilting pattern design.

  40. Jenny L says:

    These are really interesting things to consider. I don’t usually think about these things when choosing fabric. I just pick what I like! But they are good points to consider, even just for myself when I’m shopping for fabric.

  41. Mary Jerz says:

    What a great issue for inspiration and education!! Thanks for the giveaway!

  42. Betsy says:

    These are great tips. I hadn’t really thought about the “tips” before, but I do look for these details in a fabric line. Thanks!

  43. Sheryl says:

    These are all good tips for surface designers to keep in mind for fabric design. I also think price point is important. It seems that the less expensive fabrics use garish colors and ugly designs, maybe also a lower quality cotton is used, but why the low quality prints? How about a lower price line that still uses pretty colors and prints? I don’t really know anything about the industry, so there must be a reason I don’t see this, but I was wondering…

  44. Adri H. says:

    Nice collection of tips! I think it’s also good when designing a collection to have… a good base of cohesive solids and coordinating color palette to start with. Then an engaging group of repeats and all-over-designs to go with the solids.

  45. Evelyn says:

    #4 is important to me for my backing fabrics. Sometimes a repeat will leave a stripe effect, usually diagonal, particularly with smaller-scale prints. Sometimes the stripe is somewhat subtle and sometimes the stripe is quite bold. I will look at a potential backing fabric from a distance to see if there is a stripe formed by the repeat and if I’m okay with it or not.

  46. I think that it would be nice for fabric designers to keep petite girls in mind because large prints can look awkward on us!

  47. I. Is a big one with me. Directional fabrics are great but in order for a line to work non-directional fabrics must be included. I found in recent months (during stash fast) I purchased, yards and yards of directional fabric with a limited amounts of non-directional. I looked at a few fabric bundles I have and found the same thing or solids added in. Curious! I would love to read this issue and see the guide. Thank you for the chance

  48. Jennifer says:

    Excellent tips, thanks!

  49. Morgan says:

    The first I’ve heard of this magazine but it sure sounds awesome!

  50. TerryKess says:

    I love it when they have a variety of types of fabric, i.e. laminates, knits, home decor weight. Talk about coordinating!

  51. Josée says:

    Great series of question! Thanks again for sharing this magazine. It really sounds interesting. Particularly this issue with the surface design guide.

  52. People are so amazingly creative and your tips are really on point for creating some really great fabric that are less likely to be annoying to sew with..

  53. Reena Kaplowitz says:

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  54. Serena says:

    The questions are great–they’re all things I consider when choosing a fabric. I love to fussy cut, and I prefer fabrics that don’t have a right-side-up.

  55. Annie Chermak says:

    Wow — these are all great questions! My question for fabric designers is “Are my design and colors looking a little TOO on-trend?” When I look at my fav online fabric websites right now, I’m not seeing anything that’s piquing my interest and I think it’s cuz I’m tired of the current trend. Time to go look at my stash of fav fabrics and assess what it is that I love about them and spin it anew!

  56. Allison C says:

    The only question I can think of that isn’t listed is whether it is something too similar to other prints on the market already.

  57. Great collection of questions. Especially for quilting fabric collections, having coordinating designs to support the feature fabrics is of the utmost importance, in my opinion.

  58. Dd says:

    I like the tip about coordinating with other fabrics. It’s so frustrating to fall in love with a fabric, then have difficulty working it into a cohesive design.

  59. Jo Jenson says:

    The tip/question that jumps out at me is number 5 – “Is the scale going to work for a variety of projects?”. When I am buying a new fabric/s I want to get the most from it. Sometimes I buy not knowing what I’m going to make with it, so I really like the option of a fabric that works on small and larger scale projects.

  60. Ann Marie says:

    Such a great way of looking at it. I want to do an enrichment class at my son’s school in Textiles–including a project where they design a textile pattern to sell on spoonflower. Such great design questions and a perfect jumping off point for thinking about your designs! I love it!

  61. Kerry says:

    Looks like a very interesting magazine that I would enjoy reading.

  62. Lawana says:

    As my budget for fabric shrinks I buy fabric that will meet the needs of various projects so #5 is important to me

  63. Deb H. says:

    Do ALL the fabrics in the line truly coordinate with one another? I have bought some fabric lines where this is not so and it was disappointing.

  64. Anita says:

    I think another thing to consider is who your target audience is? Is it quilter’s, garment sewists, decorators? And also, what fabric producers are you hoping to market to? I would love to win this magazine giveaway. Thank you for the chance!

  65. Erin says:

    Great article with lots of great things to think about when designing.

  66. Therese says:

    I’d like designers to consider contrast, value, and sparkle. Too many collections blend well which translates to boring quilts. #6 is rarely considered, in my opinion. I find myself scrunching fabric if I plan to wear it or use it for a purse. All your questions are great. Thanks for the giveaway!

  67. Rebecca says:

    I think number one is very important, especially for beginners who might not think about image placement when cutting/sewing.

  68. Jess says:

    What a great issue! I definitely wish more designers would consider the size and repeat of a particular print sometimes. I never stopped to think of all the other things that need to be considered when designing fabric. Thank you for sharing and hosting the giveaway!

  69. Bethany says:

    These are great tips! Since I am new to the sewing community, I appreciate any and all tips and advice! 🙂

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