Designing my first collection

If you’ve looked around this site, you know that I’m a Graphic Designer by profession.

About 5 years ago I first had the inkling that I wanted to design fabrics, giftware, papergoods and home accessories. At the time I was not aware that there was a whole industry behind such endeavors. I thought I was going to be limited to screenprinting T-shirts by hand. Looking back now, it’s like ‘Duh,’ of course there’s a whole industry! Just look around, design is EVERYWHERE. Someone has the divine job of creating all that stuff, right? Why not me?

Source: via Carter on Pinterest



It’s taken me a while to figure out how to break into this industry, but lately information seems to be everywhere! I am patiently awaiting Kim Kight’s Book, “A field Guide to Fabric Design” and I just joined the Forum over at True-Up

Source: via Yetunde on Pinterest

I have read and reread both Pattern People’s e-book and Lizzie House’s e-book


I obsessively stalk Khristian A. Howell’s site and AphrochicShop for inspiration. I also visit How about Orange religiously because she has the coolest stuff.

I get my color cues from Design Seeds and Color Collective

So now you know my secret. I am a big Design and Pattern Nerd. That’s what I’m doing when I’m not working on a project or Cooking something. I’m getting super-excited about a new trick I learned in Illustrator.

Well, I guess all my nerd-dom has paid off, because I am finally just about done with my first design collection, yay! It is my plan to offer my designs in the form of Fabrics, giftware and home accessories. I am currently working out the manufacturing, and you will be the first to be notified when it’s all ready.

Sheets for Tolu

Adinkra symbol printed sheets for Tolu

A friend of ours recently got married. She is a dear sweet girl we knew since she was a fresh-faced 18 yr old college freshman. I can’t really remember how we met her (I’m sure it had to do with  open mics and poetry).  Somehow we bonded and became sort of  her surrogate family-away-from-home and we had the privilege of watching her blossom into a lovely young lady. When she got married over this past summer, we unfortunately could not make it due to some extenuating circumstances.

I decided to print her a set of sheets as a wedding present. We share a love of Adinkra symbols so I figured I’d print her sheets with the adinkra symbol for “Love.” I also interpolated the design with typography to spell out the word ‘love’ but shaped to look like the symbol. Look closely to see what I mean.  I knew this would be the ultimate wedding present and it would also give me a chance to flex my printing skills. I had been dying to print sheets since I saw this done in one of my favorite books “Printing by Hand” by Lena Corwin. I even have dreams of offering this on my shop one day.

I found a great set of sheets I wanted to print on. They were white buttery soft Egyptian Cotton 310 count. I was excited and a little scared to print on them, since ANY mistake means I have to buy another set and start over (or so I thought). It all started out well enough.  I was printing in repeat, so of course this required a bit of planning…which is not my strong suit.  This is what I started with:

This is where it started...

I decided to kind of wing it, which is never advised for this kind of work. Everything went well till the second to last repeat…then disaster struck. I went to put down my squeegee and splattered the paint onto my nice white substrate! I did what you shouldn’t do in this situation, which is panic. I started trying to wipe up the the paint, which only made it worse. I was so busy trying to fix this mistake I didn’t get a chance to take a picture. Frustrated, I decided to finish the printing anyway and think of a fix later.

This is my attempt to scrub out the paint.

You can see how this might not make a good present. I racked my brain on how to salvage my project. I thought about buying a whole new set of sheets and starting over, but I knew there had to be a more inspired solution.  Doing a whole new set means throwing this one out (since it doesn’t fit my bed). You might not know this, but I detest waste. Two days later I hit on a genius idea. Dye.  Instead of white sheets, she would have sunny-yellow sheets. And that is what I did. I think it came out really well, and might even be better than the original white.

After much delay, she received her present, and her and beloved LOVED it.

sheets ready to go

Block Printed Fabric Scraps

I have been practicing printing on fabric using screenprinting, block printing, stamping, and stenciling.  I am itching to get some products out there onto my (currently empty) Etsy store.  For now I will content myself with practicing honing my craft. (Note: I don’t have pictures of my block prints here)

These prints I did on repurposed fabrics. I am really fascinated with the idea of printing on repurposed/recycled fabrics, which are  abundant. I detest waste. I feel like objects have more than one life in them and I try to use what had been previously cast aside as being no longer worthy. In the following prints I’ve used fabrics that would otherwise be destined for the landfill.  It was a great feeling to know that I got a little more use out of them.

The picture above shows my attempt at printing ‘ribbons’.  I printed these using block stamps of my own designs that I cut by hand out of self-adhesive craft foam, I then mount the shape onto a piece of clear acrylic.  (Side note: The acrylic blocks are sold in craft stores with the rubber stamping materials.  Buy those if you like paying a lot of money for your things.  I prefer to go the the glass/plexiglass section of home depot or lowes, as asking them to sell me their discards.  I got a bunch for about $2, which I cut down to size using the plexiglass knife.) These ribbons were printed onto a deconstructed twin fitted sheet I was kind of tired of. I ripped it into strips about 2 inches wide.

The image above shows a design I drew and cut out onto plain ol’ contact paper.  I used the contact paper as my stencil by sticking it onto the screen. I do this method for short run printing or when I’m just itching to print and don’t want to burn a screen. The fabric comes from a cut up pair of linen pants that Mr. AfroMartha didn’t want anymore.

I love doing repeat/allover patterns just as much as single placement patterns but they can be tricky when using the the screen printing method!  The pattern above is my first attempt at a repeat.  I had a hard time lining up  my design on the fabric. I am going back to the drawing board to master registration before I burn any more screens.  The fabric comes from an ikea curtain I purchased from the thrift store.  The fabric is really nice and sturdy, and I wish I’d gotten both panels instead of one.

The ribbons again… The pink and red ribbon was hand-stamped.  The fabric was some random piece of fabric I had around and decided to dye to try out the packet of iDye. The dye took pretty well, and I thought it was a nice backdrop for the stamping.  My daughter begged me to dye her white sundress pink, which I did along with this fabric. It looks smashing and she loves the dress even more now, but I can’t wait to add some designs to the bottom of it.  Of course I will post once it’s completed. Stay tuned…