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August 31, 2021
Designing the Rain or Shine fabric was a project I started working on in June 2021 based on a few goals I had been kicking around in the back of my mind. I actually wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off, but it turns out, any thing is possible! ;-)
Here were my initial goals:
The shape of the bandana pattern can create quite a bit of unused fabric remnants due to the way it is placed on the print, especially if the pattern is only meant to be utilized in a single direction. Choosing prints that look the same both upside down and rightside up help with this issue, while the fabric that allows you to arrange pattern pieces in all 4 directions creates the least amount of unusable scrap. When searching for patterns, it can be hard to always find multi-directional prints, and so one goal in creating my own was to create patterns with multi directional prints.
Another aspect of textile waste comes from the fabric printing process itself. Print-on-demand fabric services have begun to revolutionize the textile industry by minimizing water and ink waste as well as fabric waste (since it is easier to only print what is needed). When designing my own fabric, I can order and have printed the amount I think I'll need (without the fear of it no longer being available should I need more later).
When I look to introduce new fabrics, I typically spend HOURS at a time searching far and wide for colors and prints that fit my desired esthetic. There are many considerations including the weight of the fabric (how many ounces a fabric weighs makes a difference in how it drapes or holds its structure), fiber composition (some fabrics are great for rain while others are not), the pattern itself (as discussed above), and of course the cost (some fabrics are beautiful but just can’t be justified as a raw material for the price people are willing to pay for dog products).
While designing fabric is not a quick or simple process, I’d much rather spend my time on a creative activity than pouring through listings on websites trying to find fabrics that align to my vision and get exactly what I want!
In the sea of small businesses making and selling dogwear, it can be hard to stand out. So creating my own fabric means knowing my products will be as unique as possible.
And here’s how the process unfolded --
Learning a new skill can feel daunting at first, especially if your brain is already swirling with a long list of to-dos and ideas like mine! If you begin exploring something new when your brain doesn’t have the capacity to take it on, you might not see results very quickly. But, if you make the right time and space for creativity to unfold, picking up a new project can feel exciting and energizing.
For me, this meant starting after I had been on vacation for a few days.
I picked up a book that did a great job explaining the basics of repeating pattern design that helped me understand the overall concept of what I was trying to accomplish. I also looked for style inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram, and Spoonflower to look for the types of fabrics that I was drawn to and think more about why.
Pretty quickly from there, I narrowed down my own color palette and decided on a theme so that I could focus. I knew I wanted to have a palette that fit into my existing waxed canvas color scheme, so I chose a simple palette of both light and dark hues that would coordinate. And I chose the theme “rain or shine” because Wag Theory is all about helping pups and their people get outside, rain or shine.
I watched a few tutorials on YouTube about the iPad tool Procreate. From there, I started to experiment! I didn’t erase anything in the beginning and didn’t place any boundaries on any of it. I just drew what came to mind, and used the brush features that looked interesting. I did this for several hours over the course of a few days while I was on vacation. Then I took a break, which I find helpful in all creative endeavors.
Then over the course of a week or two after that, I picked up my iPad whenever I had a few minutes and continued to explore drawing shapes. Once I had a loose idea of the shapes I wanted to use, I watched more YouTube videos on how to arrange them so that they would eventually be repeatable.
I also experimented many times with the background color my fabric would have. I tried both light and dark colors, and ultimately chose to move forward with a light color, but added a faint grid to the background for depth.
Once I finally got it to a place I was mostly satisfied, I printed swatches through Spoonflower to make sure I liked the finished product (which looks much different on fabric than it does on a digital screen). I printed a variety of fabric weights, and also played around with how large the scale of the print would be.
Did you know there were so many decisions to be made along the way!? Hah!
Once I finally decided on the best fabric and scale, I ordered the actual fabric (in two styles) to be turned into bandanas and jacket linings!
I’m so proud that my fabric is now available for bandanas, scrunchies, and as a jacket collar or hood lining.
Starting and growing a brand is hard work, but moments like this where it feels like my goods are actual ART, makes my heart swell. I hope you love this new fabric design as much as I loved creating it!
Have you ever created repeating patterns in a digital format, or created your own fabric? Or do you ever think you'd want to? Tell me in the comments below!
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October 10, 2023
While I've loved making connections with dog parents through my handmade dog gear, I've also felt my heart slowly tugging in a different direction. So with that, I have some big news! I'm closing down Wag Theory so that I can give myself space to move forward on a new path. While this decision feels bittersweet, I hope you'll join me in celebrating new beginnings.
May 16, 2023
January 31, 2022 3 Comments