Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing & Design – Review

March 15, 2012

I’ve told you before that I hoard paint swatches, but did you also know I hoard fabric remnants as well?  Yes it’s true, I have baskets and bins filled with scraps and yardage of fabric I want to use somewhere, someday, whenever I get around to it. My idea of a perfect afternoon involves a good mocha and a warehouse full of fabulous fabric to admire and caress, and to add to my growing collection – I’m sure there are many of you that feel the same.

I don’t do many book reviews, but I was invited to be part of a blog tour for a book all about the process, or the art I should say, of designing and printing fabric.  Hello, sign me up – that’s one topic I find completely fascinating!  I was sent this lovely text Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by textile designer Laurie Wisbrun, published by Chronicle Books.

mastering the art of fabric printing book review


The 200+ illustrative text begins with a primer on understanding patterns from floral to geometric to ethnic motifs.  Various textures are discussed and then we’re introduced to the concept of repeat patterns.  You’ll learn all about mirroring, composition, scale, and layout, etc.

understanding patterns


Next up is a chapter on designing your own patterns, which includes all sorts of tips to consider before you begin, like what will the fabric be used for (apparel, upholstery, quilting?) and the different concerns for each.

general pattern design


My favorite part of this illustrative book (being the DIYer that I am) is the chapter on different hands-on ways to create your own fabric, from using a scanner to block printing and dyeing.

hand printing


If your more knowledgeable on the digital end, Laurie also provides numerous tutorials for designing your fabrics in professional software programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, which definitely had me thinking I need to learn more about these programs to play with designs on the computer. Send your designs off to a printer like Spoonflower and you’ve got yourself your own custom fabric designed by YOU.

mastering the art in photoshop and illustrator


Peppered throughout the book are interviews with and profiles on some very successful fabric designers behind such brands as Marimekko, Mod Green Pod, and Ink & Spindle.  The last chapter is also about taking your ideas to the next level and going professional with your fabric designs, should you be so entrepreneurial.

going professional


It’s published by Chronicle, and as you can see, they always deliver both an informative and beautiful text and bonus, the cover is actually made of digitally printed fabric, now that’s cool. If you love fabric like I do, then you’ll want to add this book to your wish list – it’s a fantastic addition to any designer’s library. If you’d like to purchase the book for $20 to add to your collection, you can do so right here.

And guess what?  There is an extra copy of this lovely text up for grabs today!  Yep, it’s a surprise giveaway today and tomorrow only and one of you will win a copy of the book.

Eligibility to win the free copy of Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing & Design:

1) Answer this question, what’s your favorite fabric pattern in your home right now?  Is it a funky stripe, a fun floral, or a cool Ikat?  Do share for a chance to win.

One winner only, chosen at random. Giveaway ends Friday March 16, 2012 at 8 p.m. PST.  By entering this giveaway you agree to this blog’s giveaway policy and Official Rules of Entry.


*I have not been paid for this review, however I was provided with a complimentary copy of the text.  All opinions are my own. 



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291 Responses to “Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing & Design – Review”

  1. Justine in CT says:

    I’d have to say I love the fabric on my couch – a green floral with birds on it. I picked the colors from this fabric and found a coordinating stripe for my valences. I’d love to win this book!!

  2. Kelly says:

    I just recoverd two midmod chairs in vibrant outdoor fabrics. The front is an acid yellow with orangey/red modern floral print while hte back is a white chippendale pattern on an orangey coral. So bright, so fun, so SPRING!!!! If it would only finally come to Denver!

  3. Sandra says:

    I’m really into bright floral patterns and ikat…..cant seem to make up my mind on which i like more.

  4. My favorite pattern is a very small red fern print on a big pillow. It really softens the look of the stripped pillow it sits next to on the couch. :)

  5. My favorite fabric is one designed from antique Japanese paper stencils, or Katagami. It’s made up of only two colors – a cream background with a simple navy floral branch design printed on it – but I just love it! I would love to win this book because I have such an interest in fabric design, especially with designing some new patterns for my handmade clutches. Fingers crossed!! :)

  6. nicole says:

    My favorite is the brown and green floral pillow, it matches so well with the solid brown color of our sofa. Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Lori L. says:

    What a great book! My favorite fabric right now would have to be a fabric which I have been saving for some time now. Waiting for the perfect sewing project. It is a floral with teals/terracotta/sage green. My favorite color combination!

  8. Debbie says:

    I’m loving stripes, esp. wide striped curtains.

  9. Amy says:

    I am loving a grey fabric with big flowers in all shades of pink right now. I do need to learn more about fabrics as I am dying to learn how to reupholstry furniture.

  10. Amanda S. says:

    I don’t really have any patterns in my house right now, which I am trying to include in my design. So the only thing I can go with is a small kitchen rug I got at World Market with a large, bright, paisley design.

  11. Audrey says:

    I would loooooooooooove to win this book. My favorite print in my house right now is a large-scale modern bird and branch print from KAS.

  12. Nem says:

    My favorite fabric is a floral pillow pattern. It matches everything and cohesively ties the whole living room together.

  13. Rachel says:

    I just made a beautiful window valance for my kitchen, based on the one you crafted for your kitchen. It’s a beautiful neutral floral print (creams and yellows) I’m loving the colors, pattern and the fact that I was able to craft a valance for under 12 bucks!

  14. Kris says:

    My favorite fabric is a Waverly floral that we just recovered a chair with.

  15. Courtney says:

    My current favorite pattern in my home are the curtains I made for our living room window in Annie Selke’s Links Slate. My love has been reaffirmed as I increasingly am seeing the pattern pop up in designer rooms as well as on a throw pillow on the show Smash.

  16. Qui says:

    I fell in love with the floral print on my comforter–the rest of the room has to match with the blanket because it is my favorite print in the room!

  17. Nicole K says:

    My favorite fabric is one I purchased from Calico Corners and made pillows with. It is orange with some sort of flowers but very understated and cream background…. my living room has tones/accents of blue and orange, so it works perfect!

  18. Sonya says:

    I also have a bin of fabric- just because it is beautiful! Thank you for inspiring me to upholster 3 chairs with some of it! I have enjoyed your site SO much. Thank you for your hard work Kate. I would love this book; it is beautiful.

  19. Allison A. says:

    Mine is a raspberry velvet. I found it as a good size remnant and had to have it. I don’t know what I am going to do with it yet but the color is gorgeous! At least once a week I take it out and admire it. This sounds like a very interesting book!

  20. Cindy from Indiana says:

    Right now my favorite fabric in my home is a really nice graphic fall leaf print. It’s not cutesy. It’s more earthy and bold. (Obviously I need to get myself out and get some more seasonally appropriate choices, don’t I? LOL)

    What an awesome book review – and topic! Thanks for the chance to win this book! I’ve always wanted to design my own fabrics.

  21. Beth says:

    I have a friend who will love this book!
    My favourite fabric in my house is my duvet cover: silvery grey and white with a simple swirl pattern. So easy to spice it up with a variety of colours!

  22. Crystal says:

    This is a topic I would love to read about! My current favorite is a graphic print by Annie Selke in my daughters’ room.

  23. Genevieve says:

    My fabric in the house right now is a natural stripe that we upholstered 2 wing back chairs in! With a couple of colorful throw pillows and a beautiful burnt orange cotton throw, we are enjoying a cool spring! I do not have a bucket of fabric but have a CABINET! Sometimes I wonder if I sew just so that I can buy more fabric!

  24. Linda Schatz says:

    My favorite fabric print in my home is a soft floral on my ottoman that I recovered myself! It is tufted and oh so comfortable to rest your feet upon. :) The book looks so intriguing…and I love to try new things in art!
    Thank you for posting this article!

  25. Kasey M. says:

    My favorite pattern is a teal with pink floral print which I used to make a manner above my desk and to line the drawers of my plastic storage cubes. It’s very girly and out of character for me, but I love the romance of that fabric paired with some crocheted lace.

  26. Claudia S says:

    I have a green toille that I love in my familly room. I would love to get this book. It looks awesome!

  27. Roxanne says:

    I have a Suzani pattern on my curtains that I love. The colors allow me to incorporate a number of different fabrics into my room.

  28. Katherine says:

    I ponder where to begin! I have a few favorite fabrics. To pick just one seems unfair to the others. I could narrow it down to the geometric fabric patterns or the organic (naturalistic). They seem so opposite but I love the two types of Fabric. My favorite right now would have to be the Vintage Mushroom fabric. It’s a olive background, with colorful mushrooms in browns, oranges, and yellows. The fabric is an inspiration for a Vintage bedroom with pops of color.

  29. anne says:

    Stripes! On everything from napkins to throw pillows to me :)

  30. Kate R. says:

    I’m really digging chevron stripe in a crisp black and white. Also a damask in a pretty coral. I also like to mix the two – good times!

  31. Karena says:

    I still love the Ikat prints in several colorways!

    What an excellent book!

    Art by Karena

  32. Alicia says:

    Loving stripes right now in all sorts of colors. I think they go with everything.

  33. Tiffanie says:

    Favorite fabric pattern in my home right now is my bedspread – its light pale blue with white flower pattern only at the bottom that “grows” up toward the pillows. Its a light smooth fabric & now that Im describing it, its kinda like the “cherry blossom japanese” look…just in light blue & white instead of pink & brown, etc :) Thsi book sounds wonderful & already has my creative juices drooling! LOL!! Thanks for a chance to win!

  34. Ana Hopkins says:

    My favorite right now is anything with a quatrefoil print. LOVE IT!

  35. Susan says:

    My favorite print at home is my Crate & Barrel green paisley duvet cover. I love how fresh and clean it looks in my bedroom.

  36. Jen H says:

    The quilt I made with Amy Butler fabric.. Greens.. Yellows.. Greys and orange!

  37. iduna says:

    Strrrrrripes and polka dots! And a combination of both.

  38. Lyndsey says:

    Currently my favorite fabric is a Dwellstudio Suzani, just wish I had more so I could make some dinning room curtains.

  39. Jackie says:

    My favorite is bright, graphic patterned fabric.

  40. Sarah says:

    I am in love with Ikat. I recently purchased a lovely cotton ikat in cream, gray, and pale yellow that I used to make PJ bottoms for a Learning to Sew Clothing class. I can’t wait to finish the project this weekend – it makes me happy just to look at the fabric!

  41. sue says:

    My favorite fabric is a beautiful green and white pattern I used to make a pillow…it has leaf and bird silhouettes on it.

  42. How many creative pursuits can a girl have! Now I want to design fabric too.
    I have mostly stripes, but am liking my new burlap pillow with black script print.

  43. Katie says:

    I don’t have much fabric in my house yet, but I do love my pillows that I made with painted sillhouttes on them. This book would be great to have, I might have to buy the book if I don’t win!

  44. Emily M says:

    My favorite fabric is our duvet from West Elm. It’s a chevron print in black and white. Classic colors that can be switched up with different pillows. Love it :)

  45. Pamela says:

    I love the Laura Ashley fabric I bought when I was pregnant for a nursery. That baby is 12 now and I still love it! Crazy, right? It is a white background with small yellow and white daisies on it. It is not a “baby” or “child” print, so it has grown up with her. And, her favorite color has always been yellow. Coincidence? I think not!

  46. Peggy says:

    This is such a timely post. I have some library books on fabric printing as I am thinking of block printing designs for my etsy shop and I would love this book. I am very much an anti-trend, global design kinda person so right now I love a tapa print we got in Fiji. I also love a polka dot matlasse purchased at Pottery Barn years ago.

  47. Michelle P says:

    I love damask prints. So gorgeous!

  48. Melissa says:

    My favorite fabric right now is the fabric I bought yesterday from Premier Prints its the greek key looking print in the kelp(brown and ivory) color. I love to “collect” fabrics also. :0)

  49. Stephanie K says:

    Favorite print in my house right now is a cool abstract flower and branch print.

  50. Man, I have to pick just one? I have to say I’m loving the Aztec/Navajo prints I’ve started to see everywhere.

  51. Alma says:

    I just love the ivory/black pattern on my living room lamp shades… they’re so chic!

  52. Heather B. says:

    My favorite fabric right now is a magenta taffeta that I found at a whole in the wall store a few months ago. No idea what I will make with it but I too have bins of fabric waiting for a project. I would love to win this beautiful book.

  53. Tagati says:

    Generally, I’m a plain sort of person (solids), but I have to admit that I luv the blue plaid Japanese quilted coat that my auntie sent me from Japan. It has just a touch of a goldy-brown accent in the plaid. Not to mention that it keeps me toasty warm up here in Port Townsend, WA!

  54. Olwyn says:

    Right now I love my black & white striped ticking- it’s been hard to find in this colourway. Although I also just found some hand screened fern botanicals I did in a workshop years ago- they’re perfect for small pillows. I just can’t remember how I did them. Maybe the book will help?

  55. Ashley Ryan says:

    I am currently loving Calico Corner’s Tilbury Lapis, a light teal, green, and brown IKAT print.

  56. Angie says:

    I love the basic black and white cross-hatching of my pj pants. It’s a basic flannel from Joann’s.

  57. Lin says:

    I had 2 rattan arm chairs and foot stools redone in a tropical leaf pattern that has a deep red background with a big green and mocha/biege leaves pattern. Works beautifully in our livingroom with the off white slipcovered sofa and loveseat. Adds a little colour snap, a warm tropical feel along with bringing the outdoors ‘in’.

  58. Lorena says:

    My favorite pattern is on my toss pillows. Love Chevron stripes in any color. My toss pillows are a dusty rose.

  59. Laura says:

    When I was in about 4th grade, my grandma made me some sunflower pillows to go in my room – that’s my favorite print still.

  60. Natalie P. says:

    I’ve been really into bold stripes lately. This book looks like a great read – – thanks for the opportunity to get my hands on it!! : )

  61. Annette says:

    My favorite fabric is a Dutch Wax African print in carmel and black that covers the coffee table in front of my sofa. I’m a fan of Spoonflower and would love to learn these techniques.

  62. leah says:

    what a great book! my favorite pattern is a vintage kilim rug in my living room, it has amazing colors like orange, hot pink, red, black, and purple that i found for an insane deal at a consignment store in alameda!

  63. Sherrell cordas says:

    A rich indigo Ikat throw from Indonnesia. It has inspired my whole living room.

  64. Ivy says:

    it would have to be my duvet cover which has a watercolor effect of purple flowers scattered over a grey background

  65. ellen says:

    I use very little pattern in my home – usually texture. I made up some quick kitchen curtains in a cute spatula print from Spoonflower and they make me smile whenever I see them.

  66. I am torn between the fake cowhide print I have draped on a chair in the living room (I laid it out to look at it but the chair now looks bare without it!) and the tropical leaves in teal and brown I used on the panels in the last project I refinished. I can’t decide which is my favorite.

  67. Amanda C says:

    I love the funky floral valance I just made for our downstairs bathroom! I am actually thinking about picking up some fabric medium to paint my own shower curtain…we’ll see!

  68. Marybeth says:

    Thanks for sharing about this book. Looks like a beautiful book to read and learn from! My favorite patterned fabric in our home is in the form of a dress my daughter wears. It’s an unusual floral pattern with soft colors in coral, purple, blue and green. I picked it up from a consignment store and don’t know how else to describe it but the way it is put together has a very Japenese Kimono style to it.

  69. Jenn T. says:

    This is the saddest thing ever, but I don’t have ANY pattern in my house. I get stuck in thinking it will be the wrong pattern, so I just don’t buy. Shame, shame. I am however loving chevron still, and stripes are always classic to me (I do have one striped wall!).

  70. Teresa says:

    Amy Butler Kasbah in persimmon, made some pretty pillows!

  71. Heather C. says:

    I love all of Sandi Henderson’s patterns! So pretty!

  72. sangeetha says:

    I have a lot of indian paisley & block prints that i love

  73. Kathy says:

    Well, I’d have to say it’s a toss up. I just finished a pillow with an off-white background, covered in black swirls, to go in a black and white room in my house; and a brand new pillow done in stained glass colors, called “Mosaic Medallions” by PK Textiles. It has royal blue, turquoise, and greens on an ivory background. Gorgeous!

    You can also see the black and off white pillow covers in my store here:

    I’m hoping to win, as I, too, really love fabric! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  74. Bonnie says:

    I have a mustard yellow bird print that I am working on making into curtains for the dining room!

  75. Jody says:

    I have old chintz curtains in my guest room that have faded to a lovely soft floral.

  76. Andrea says:

    Too hard to answer! I love fabrics, so we have a bunch! Right now, my favorite is from my most recent project: the sunroom/playroom faux roman shades — bold colors in a block floral pattern.

  77. Currently in love with ikat patterns, chervon and Casablanca stencil.

  78. Claire says:

    My mother-in-law used remnants from a friend’s old sari to make throw pillows for me. They’re tomato red with cream and gold accents–tres unique–love ’em!

  79. Cathy says:

    My favorite fabric around the house is currently of a gray and yellow pattern that I have yet to use. I’m thinking about using it to line the back of my new billy bookcase to add some oomph.

  80. Lori says:

    I’m just getting ready to redo the master bedroom with a diy headboard. I’m contemplating a neutral linen or go for some pattern. Hmmmm…..

  81. MarciaW says:

    Floral bird geometric – we like them all and use them too – fabric patterns in our house are eclectic

  82. sarajane says:

    OOOH Delurking to enter…. right now it’s the Waverly script fabric I just bought to recover the seat cushions on our leather sofa, to hide the scratches from the doggy toenails.

  83. Jacqueline says:

    I love a fabric that I search for months to find. It is a Covington fabric called Wilmington in Multi. LOVE IT. Here is a link where you can find it:

  84. My favorite currently would have to be a fun illustrated floral in bright colors that I used to reupholster an old rocking chair.

  85. Smile Steady says:

    I’ve got a great floral print in my bedroom, and I would love to win this book!

  86. Lydia says:

    I have drapes in a big floral in soft shades of gray, blue and yellow on a heavy vanilla fabric. It might be waverly; I have forgotten who made the fabric.

  87. Sara says:

    I love ticking stripes – along with simple patterns in neutrals, reds and blues. I was just wondering if there were any books about fabric design and printing. This looks very beautiful and informative!

  88. Sunlover says:

    I made drapes from my dining room from a large plaid silk. I love it! And I’m a hoarder of many fabrics too. This book would have me mesmerized for hours. :)

  89. Stacey says:

    I too hoard fabric swatches, remnants & cut pieces I simply have to have! My favorite right now is a Colefax & Fowler sample piece I carried around the globe & just recently made into a wall hanging. It’s a traditional chinoiserie in non traditional colors I love it!

  90. Valery says:

    My favorite fabric pattern in my home is an ikat purple print.

  91. Mimi says:

    My favorite pattern is the florals on the dining room chairs. Its got all my favorite colors.

  92. Gwen says:

    My favorite remains a large stripe, 3″ repeat

  93. I love all that colorful fabric!!! I don’t have much patterned fabric in my home right now, with the exception of two desk chairs. One is my great great grandfathers!

  94. Hollie says:

    I have a funky geometric print in blue and white that I admire lovingly each and every day!

  95. aubrey says:

    sign me up! ;)
    My favorite pattern in my home right now is actually a sewing machine print I designed :))

  96. melodie says:

    Actually, today it would be on a tissue box! :-)

  97. AnnS says:

    I have a huge paisley pattern that has a deep crimson background with elements of blues and golds and greens that I absolutely love. I made pillows with it to go in my blue and white bedroom, and while they all “go” together, I feel like the red is SCREAMING at me. Think I need to add a few more colors to the mix.
    Thanks for the opportunity.

  98. Rachel says:

    I am slowly trying to pull my apartment together. It has been very difficult to budget these expenses, but my boyfriend and I love stripes and just covered our love seat cushions in a racing stripe design that we made. He absolutely loves it and I love that he is interested in the design of our living room!

  99. I would say my suzanis! I got them off craigslist, and they were so great they deserved their own post :) Thanks for the giveaway Kate

  100. Paula says:

    My all time favorite fabric in my house is a Chinoiserie by Schumacher. I don’t recall the name of it, but it has a vibrant coral background with touches of blue in the pattern.

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