Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Strange Thrills: Put Your Quilts on Mugs, Notecards, Pillows, and/or Other Quilts!

Here are the two latest fat-quarters to enter my fabric stash. I'm certain that no one else on earth owns these fabrics. The first:

What the heck is it? A photograph of my recent Chicago quilt, downsized from its original 72 inches wide, to only 9 inches across. Six copies fit on a fat-quarter of fabric (FQs are 18" x 22"). 

They were printed onto a lovely organic cotton sateen by the custom printer Spoonflower.com. Spoonflower's usual price is about $13.00 per FQ - I took advantage of a two-for-one sale to pay that price for the FQ above, plus the one below:  

This second piece features my latest Los Angeles quilt. Eight photos fit on a FQ with each image about 7.5" square. I could have made the images bigger or smaller. 

Painters make giclee prints. For the exact same reasons, quilters should consider printing their work on fabric, paper or other items. 

Plus, it's a strange but genuine thrill to see something you created in a completely different way - as, say, socks.  But before we get to the hardware, let's start with....

Printing onto Fabric

The DIY route is to print quilt photos from your home printer, onto 8.5" x 11" fabric sheets. I've done lots of home printing of photos on fabric, and it usually turns out okay, but it's not necessarily a bargain. 

It takes lots of ink; for permanence, you must either have a pigment ink printer, use pricey fabric sheets, and/or mess around with challenging chemicals like Bubble Jet Set. If you cut your own fabric sheets - using freezer paper or a sticky label backing, printing can be risky - as often as not, it creates a jam. And you must have a good-quality printer. If your printer doesn't do large-format printing, you're limited to a small size. 

So the idea of paying Spoonflower to do the printing isn't all that extravagant. But what really inspired me was the gorgeous work of master art quilter Judi Hutchins Bastion. Judi sends her lovely, detailed nature photography to Spoonflower to print - like this photo of a leaf. 

She then embellishes the printed images with stitchery, to make exquisite works of art, like this. 
Thanks, Judi, for giving me permission to show your work. If Spoonflower is good enough for Judi's subtle imagery, I thought, it's good enough for reproduction of my not-so-subtle quilts! I uploaded photos of the two quilts, and Spoonflower's easy tools let me adjust the size and number of images on each FQ. 

When I received the fabric, the holidays were coming - a perfect incentive to start using it immediately. I cut one panel from the LA fabric, added borders and cornerstones, and ended up with this neat  wallhanging.  

I didn't work up the courage to quilt the panel, but that's going to be my next experiment.

For another friend, I made a pillow with Los Angeles on one side.... 
And Chicago on the other...
I added dark navy borders to LA, to make it the same size as the slightly larger Chicago image on the reverse side. 

Onward to Notecards

But wait, there's more! I started thinking it might be fun to make notecards from my city quilts. I could use some myself, and gift blank ones to people who had lived in those cities.

I posted a question about quilters' favorite notecard-printing sites on a quilting forum. Several people suggested Vistaprint.com.  I wound up buying ten cards with my Chicago quilt, plus blank envelopes, for $18.51, including $5.99 shipping and a bit of tax. I was very happy with the results: 

You do have to fold them yourself, but for $1.80 each, they're a bargain! 

A few weeks later I received an email from Shutterfly announcing a 50% off everything sale, plus free shipping on greeting cards. I ordered 15 cards for $23. That brought the card price down to about $1.50 per card. And they came out beautifully! (Plus Shutterfly folded them for me.)

But I don't always want to be the middlewoman  - I wanted people to be able to order stuff with my quilts, without me having to stockpile or ship it.

Beyond Notecards

For that, quilters suggested several sites, including RedBubble.  Upload a design and anyone can order them on a wild array of objects - posters, shower curtains, leggings, clocks, and so much more. Most hilarious of all  - you can print your quilt onto a duvet cover or comforter! Yes, that means you can turn a photo of your quilt into another sorta-quilt, for no extra labor! (Not counting hours you spent earning the $86.87 that the duvet costs, or $105.31 for the comforter!)  

No pressure, but if you would like to see a long list of hypothetical merchandise with my quilts on it, go here. Full disclosure: I get a 20% commission. I'm not completely sure, because, so far, zero people have ordered any! RedBubble offers tools for self promotion, which obviously I have not yet tested!  [Update: I've sold a set of coasters!]

Better yet, upload one of your images - it's free to play, you don't have to finalize it - and I guarantee you will experience a weird  thrill when you see your art as, say, a "laptop skin." 

RedBubble's merchandise includes notecards. They're $2.48 each - more than I paid with sales at Vistaprint or Shutterfly - but still reasonable for someone looking to buy a special greeting card without you having to package and ship it.

My New Mugs

Although I didn't order cards from RedBubble, I did order four mugs from them as holiday gifts. 

I was delighted with the color and the quality. I learned that if you use a squarish or vertical image, and want the whole quilt on the mug, there's going to be a whole lot of white space on the other side. Here's the front of the LA quilt mug - everything beyond its sides, where the photo ends, is white. 
My New York quilt has even longer proportions than my LA quilt. 
If I'd put that photo on the cup, it would use up an even narrower space. So I decided to use only a horizontal slice. With Redbubble's tools, I upsized the image, lopping off tops and bottoms of buildings like Godzilla rampaging through Manhattan. Here's the results...

...to the back.
I kinda love it! This wouldn't work with every quilt, but if you have something that's already abstract, you might enjoy an even more abstract horizontal slice on a mug. 

So those are my adventures in quilted tchotkes. The most important advice I can give is to use the sharpest, highest-resolution photo you can. I bring all my large quilts to a local art photography firm - they charge me $30 for a high-res full shot. If you happen to live in the LA area, the company is Artworks Fine Art Publishing.  

If you order any of these things from these sites - or sites like it - please let me know how they turn out! I hate to add to your email load, but if you sign up for their mailing lists, you'll know when there's a sale. 

Disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with any of these sites - if you click on my links, I don't benefit in any way - unless you order products with my quilts on them from RedBubble, of course. 

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