03 July 2009

On demand custom fabrics --high tech meets home spun

The girls over at Design Boner clued me into a contest being run by an on-demand custom fabric manufacturer yesterday. The manufacturer is an online-only entity called Fabric on Demand. The contest is pretty cool and I'll get to it in a bit. But what's really cool is the company behind it.

Fabric on Demand will print any fabric you can design in any quantity you want and they will turn it around in a week. It's a neat product and a really great service these folks are up to. They have taken away a number of the barriers to entry that other, similar manufacturers have in place. Typically, on demand fabric printers require that you submit a design drawn in a vector graphic program like Illustrator. There's a pretty steep learning curve associated with vector graphics and I'm sure that's scared off a number of people interested in expressing themselves through fabric.

Rather than relying on vector graphics, Fabric on Demand allows users to upload .jpg, .tiff, .bmp, .jpeg, .tif, .png or .psd files and then specify the repeats of the file. The layout section of their website explains the process clearly and concisely. Once submitted, Fabric on Demand will generate a proof. Upon proof approval, Fabric on demand will produce and ship your order within a week.

In addition to making the layout process simpler and more accessible, Fabric on Demand has increased the number of fabric options available significantly. Need an upholstery fabric? No problem. Need some polar fleece printed up? You're covered. Need a linen/cotton blend for new drapes? Done. The price per yard ranges from $16.75 to $31.50 and swatches of their fabrics are available for $5.

What's not to love? And speaking of love, the folks at Fabric on Demand have a sense of humor and a love of what they do that's infectious. They are running a contest right now to upholster four side chairs that have seen better days.

If between now and 4 July you get a wild hair and want to take a stab at Fabric on Demand's process, you can submit a fabric design for consideration. Can't pull something together by Saturday? Fear not. On the 5th, Fabric on Demand will publish a gallery of the finalists and anybody can then vote for their favorite entry. The winning design will win $500 and have their design reproduced and then upholstered onto what will soon be very happy side chairs.

The chairs belong to a real family and will end up in their home. To provide some direction (and to show off what's possible with Fabric on Demand), the family submitted the following four examples of Fabric on Demand fabrics they like.

Stay tuned!


  1. Sounds really cool! How was your trip?

  2. My trip was too cool and far, far too short. Thanks for asking Gina.

    I was just sending this link to my sister when your comment came through Gina. My sister's an accomplished illustrator but the learning curve of Illustrator has prevented her from jumping on the custom fabric bandwagon. This new service eliminates the learning curve and that's really neat. Using Fabrics on Demand, someone can draw something by hand, scan it and then upload it. It's gets no simpler than that. I may even try my hand at this!

  3. Hi Paul,
    I am fine THNX for asking! Very Busy with my art classes and inbetween enjoying the beachlife and trying to renovate the farm. Thinking about building a timemachine or growing a pair of extra hands ;)
    Great contest, this will make some peeps go creative crazy.

  4. So how is this different than Spoonflower? Sending them a pattern is in my long list of to-dos.

  5. They're different from Spoonflower in that they have a large number of base fabrics as opposed to one. The other big difference is that Fabrics on Demand doesn't need vector graphics. You can upload a .jpg or a .bmp and then use their online software to layout your design. Simple!

  6. Now you are talking my language Paul....FABRIC!
    Wish I had known earlier about this contest as I just may have entered the contest, but thank you just the same for the link. -Brenda-

  7. I'm going to upload a design this week and have them print it. I'll record the whole thing in a series of posts. Stay tuned! Now I just need to draw something...

  8. Paul, thanks for this post on Fabrics on Demand. I'll be wtching your posts on the custom print process.

    Also, thanks for not "modifying" me! :-)

  9. My God Leona, you should see the samples! This process is a real game changer.

  10. I owe you Paul! Just saved the day for me and the ever elusive shower curtain for a bath I just completed. Have searched high and low and no luck...now I can stay up all night trying to design a fabric! oh yay! My husband thanks you! ( not really, he is asleep as I sit here) What a really cool idea. many thanks

  11. My mind's been reeling over similar thoughts. This is a real boon.


Talk to me!