Hi, guys! I hope you are all well! Today I want to show you my cute new bag! Sprout Patterns approached me to see if I would try out their service and blog about the experience*. Sprout Patterns is an offshoot of Spoonflower, the site where you can choose custom designs uploaded by users or your own designs, and have them printed on fabric. Sprout partners with indie sewing pattern designers; like with Spoonflower, you can select or design your own prints, but you also select a sewing pattern and the pattern pieces are printed directly onto the fabric.
Pattern: Grainline Studio Portside Duffle (here‘s where you can make your own on Sprout)
Fabric: Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra
Prints: Sleepy Fox and Cactus Coral, both by kimsa
Lining: Mountains (Black) from the Adventure Awaits collection by Dear Stella from Fancy Tiger Crafts
Bag Hardware: D-rings, swivel bolt hooks, and cotton webbing from Pacific Trimming. Zipper from SIL Thread.
My original plan was to use my own designs, since I had developed a small portfolio for last semester’s print design class. But I found that I couldn’t stop obsessing over my own prints, changing the colors and the scale, and I just didn’t have time to be fussy, so I picked out two really fun prints from the Sprout library and forced myself to commit and move on so I could get back to homework. 🙂
So, the cool thing about Sprout is that you don’t have to mess around with paper patterns, pinning, or tracing before you cut things out- you can just cut right into the fabric and you’re good to go! The obvious downside to this is that you can’t go crazy with fit alterations because the pattern pieces are printed on the fabric. Along these lines, if you’re between sizes or a different size on top than on bottom, you can’t really do anything about that. So choosing projects that have a forgiving fit is one way to deal with this, or or you can choose a project from a pattern company with sizing that fits you pretty well right out of the envelope. I didn’t want to stress about sizing, so I decided to make a bag- that’s one way to solve that problem!
The process is pretty simple. You choose a pattern/project, and then you can select prints that you like or upload your own. You can move the prints around on the pattern pieces to center motifs that you like, and you can pick coordinating prints or solids, if you choose. Next, you select your preferred substrate from a list of options that are appropriate for your project. Each pattern piece is labeled, with notches marked and seam allowances added. Once you place the order, you receive the PDF of the pattern via email, and the printed fabric ships out a few days later. You provide your own notions, interfacing, and in this case, lining.
I selected Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra as I wanted to use natural fibers so I could press the seams easily and I’d heard that the Heavy Cotton Twill wasn’t going to be available for much longer and I didn’t want to use something that might not be around by the time I finished my project. Unfortunately, this was not the right choice! It’s way too light for a bag, so I had to underline it with some leftover canvas that I had kicking around from an upholstery project. I also interfaced each piece, as per the pattern instructions.
Even though notches are marked on the fabric, other markings aren’t included (they can’t be printed on, or they’d be visible), so unfortunately, I had to print and assemble the (included) PDF pattern so I would know where to place all the webbing. I would have rather just had instructions to measure 4″ from the side seam or whatever so I didn’t have to deal with all that paper waste. Unfortunately, by the time I’d dealt with underlining the fabric and assembling the PDF, this felt just like any other sewing project… all of the ease of cutting straight into the fashion fabric was erased.
The thing that I found super irksome was that the instructions called for prewashing the fabric, which I did, but the fabric shrank quite a bit (I can’t remember the temperature that I washed it at, but I guess I should have just line dried the fabric instead of tumbling it?). Unfortunately, the print layout on the fabric had the upper side piece printed on the grain and the lower printed on the crossgrain, and they shrank at different ratios, so when I went to sew them together, the lower side was 1″ shorter at the seamline. This turned into a real headache as I went along- the pockets don’t match up with the end panels because they were placed different directions on the grain, and the lining, which was cut from the same pattern pieces as the shell, but with pre-shrunk fabric, was considerably bigger than the outer bag. It’s not the end of the world with a bag, but I’m not certain how this would play out if you were making a garment.
The pattern itself was very straightforward to put together, and was quite fun for me. I’ve never really made a bag before, so it was cool to see how that worked. The instructions were clear and the resulting bag is super usable. I followed the instructions to a T; the only change I made was to sub out the printed bottom piece for a bit of waxed canvas I had kicking around. This seemed like it would wear better over the long run than the linen/cotton fabric… I’m pretty hard on bags, historically!
The cost seemed pretty reasonable to me for the bag- the project was complimentary to me, but it would have cost $44 in the fabric that I chose. Since the bag pattern, included when you buy the project, would cost you $14 to purchase yourself, paying $30 for custom-printed fabric doesn’t seem too terribly steep to me. Yes, it’s more than you would probably pay if you grabbed a couple of yards of fabric at the store, but for something special that’s printed to your specifications, that doesn’t seem too high. The overall cost of the bag gets a little steeper when you factor in the cost of lining, webbing, zippers, and bag hardware. I recommend shopping around a bit for these things- they really varied in price at different spots in the Garment District!
Overall, I’m really happy with the finished bag. I think if I used Sprout again in the future I would be careful with laundering as that could really change your experience, but otherwise, it’s a very user-friendly service that was a fun change of pace from my usual sewing projects. I really enjoyed making a bag, too, and would definitely recommend this pattern for gift sewing. I could see myself making a few more bags for friends and family members!
Plenty of room for all your pug’s accessories!
Alright, have you guys used Spoonflower, Sprout Patterns, or any other custom fabric service? What were your experiences like?
*I received this Sprout project free of charge. I paid for the lining/notions/hardware/etc myself and did not receive any additional compensation for the post. All opinions my own. 🙂
I love your duffle. Does the pug come with it? He is so cute and totally deserves his own travel bag! This is a great review of Sprout. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of it, and it’s great to hear your take on it. I’ve had issues with fabrics and preshrinking before – so frustrating. It’s great you made it work because that bag is adorable. I’m going to have to give that pattern a try!
This is Beth at Locust Grove. I just showed this to your dad. We both thought it was cute – even the picture of Peggy. But didn’t Doug feel left out? 🙂
We tried a few pics with Doug but he was making grumpy faces! 🙂
Your project turned out great…but disappointing that you have to supply the lining separately for bag – since that then requires printing/transferring the pattern. I’d be really bummed to have experienced the shrinkage issue you went through. I purchased the Grainline Lark through Sprout and I had a great experience. I had no issues with preshrinking of the cotton knit and the final project was awesome. Also, since there was any lining/hardware etc, it really was just wash, cut and sew.
Nice bag! The shrinkage issue is unbelievable though. I did notice that some of the pattern pieces were printed on the cross-grain when I made a Sprout Patterns dress last year but since I had no shrinkage with the poly crepe de chine it didn’t occur to me that the rotation of the pieces would cause such a problem after shrinkage. It is really surprising that they haven’t fixed their cutting layouts to have all the pieces on the grain: Sprout has existed for long enough that I would assume other people would have encountered the same problem, and it’s a major issue!
Normally I loathe these Sprout shilling posts, but you explained the myriad problems with Sprout and Spoonflower so well that I think I rather enjoyed it.
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Thanks for the honesty in your post! I never would have thought about the whole straight vs. cross grain shrinkage issue.
I am so sad about the shrinkage; I’ve never seen a Sprout where the print was rotated (and I can think of a couple where it would be great to be able to). Thanks for taking one for the team.
It is worth your time to use your own fabrics, because you will get the spoondollar royalty for that yardage (rather than just getting the discount when you buy yardage). But this is really cute, even if there was….sad shrinking. The heavy twill prints VERY OFFGRAIN (1- 1.5 inches), so you dodged a bullet there (it’s the substrate, not their printing. The coating pulls/drags in the middle and it’s damn near impossible to pull into grain. And it does regrain itself over time, just when you forgot about it.
I made those pants into yoga mat bags. Kinda twisty ones.
This is a service that sounds great in theory, but your problems echoed my concerns with it. The grain switching with the shrinkage though was something I didn’t think of that seems like a HUGE problem–I think I’ll hold off until they either a) start printing the pattern pieces on the backside so you can make alterations, or b) start offering Lekala/Bootstrap custom sized patterns.
That said, the bag is very cute and useful! 🙂
This thing is genius!
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Wow, this a very interesting read I’ve never seen these before. Love the bag and your fabric choices are awesome. I guess it would work perfectly for bags and things that don’t need alterations. Gotta love the puggie photo at the end. Boy they’re getting old now aren’t they 🙂 Erin
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