Thursday, 16 October 2014

autumn inspiration

I go for a walk or two a day with my daughter around the block. Today I looked for berries and flowers in all the colours of the rainbow. I love all the little things you see when you take the time to look.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

tutorial - shifting an object in inkscape

I've been using inkscape for years and what I love about it is that I keep discovering new things it can do. I suppose that could be something that bugs me, since the user interface can be quite overwhelming to figure out, especially when you're starting out, but I like the feeling that there are all kinds of possibilities I don't know about. Yesterday I found the move function under transform (Object - transform, or Shift+Ctrl+M). What this does is move an object a certain number of pixels either vertically or horizontally.

In fabric design this is something I do all the time in order to create a repeating pattern. Until now I've been using a more convoluted method: placing an object at 0 on the x or y axis, duplicating, then moving the second object along the x or y axis depending on the width and height of the page, grouping the two and placing them where I want on the page (it sounds more complicated than it is, but its a lot of extra steps compared to using the move function).

You can see how easy it is to move the whole group of girls in the design below to quickly see how the pattern looks in repeat. Group them all, duplicate and move horizontally the number of pixels of my page width. 

The design I've been working on this week is once again for the spoonflower design contest. This week's theme is umbrellas, and I reworked some of the girls from this design, added a few more and played with colour and placement. 

You can see the final design in my shop (not yet for sale) and see the other designs in the contest here (voting starts this evening). 

Now I'm looking forward to trying out the different options of the transform tool and hopefully discovering other functions I didn't know about. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

high chair cover

I bought a used tripp trapp high chair a few months ago. Rather than buy a cushion for it I decided to design and sew one myself. Now we'll just see how often it needs to be washed!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

creating a fabric collection

A few weeks ago I took an online course on pattern design at creativelive. Even though the course focussed on using adobe illustrator to create fabric designs and I use inkscape, I found it very helpful and learned a lot. Part of the course was learning how to create a collection and there was a design competition hosted by the teacher, Bonnie Christine, to create a fabric collection and document the process. It took me about two weeks to create the collection and I enjoyed really thinking through how different designs work together, coming up with a colour palette, and playing with different ideas for designs. I documented the whole process here, but here are a few details:

And here is the final collection:

I also enjoyed coming up with a title for the collection and names for each design. Usually its a bit of a challenge to come up with a good name for a design. Thinking of the designs as part of a collection helped!

Following through until a collection really feels done is a lot more work than I often put into designs, but its definitely worth it and makes me want to revisit some of my earlier designs and collections to give them a final polish. The designs will soon be available for sale as fabric, wallpaper and paper in my shop.

One of the things I'm inspired to do with further designs is to spend more time on the brainstorming and sketching stage. It really helped to spend a few days letting ideas grow, trying out different options and colours and giving them time to settle and mature.

Monday, 1 September 2014

inkscape tutorial - simplify paths

Here's a very small tutorial showing something I use quite a bit when designing with inkscape. When I scan a drawing and then use the trace function in inkscape to convert the lines to vectors, the lines are often quite bumpy. Sometimes that's fine, but often I want smoother lines, and more importantly, I want less nodes on the path so that its easier to clean up and edit.

Step one: select the object, making sure you have the "edit path by nodes" button activated, so that you can see all the nodes.

Step two: path - simplify, or Ctrl + L

Step three: this reduces the number of nodes while keeping the shape of the object basically the same.

Step four: zoom in and tweak the remaining nodes until the object is the shape you want.

Two things I've noticed while doing this: 

If you select a number of objects and try to simplify them at the same time it doesn't work nearly as well. The paths end up looking like an abstract mess. However, if you just select one object at a time, the shape stays basically the same. You do have to be careful though, since sometimes this will delete so many nodes that your object changes shape drastically. 

When I scan a drawing to convert it to vectors in inkscape, it helps a lot if I first slightly blur the picture before performing the trace in inkscape. This smooths the lines before the actual trace, meaning there is less clean up / simplification of paths needed and also results in smaller, easier to handle files.

ps. the examples are from a new design I'm working on (yes, thats me reading a book in my living room)

Friday, 8 August 2014

beetles and blackberries

Last weekend we went on an outing to Beddington Park and saw lots of ripe blackberries. I didn't have a container along to pick any, but took a photo instead and inspiration for a new design.

I know the japanese beetles in the design are a bit strange, but I decided to add them so that I can enter this design in next weeks spoonflower contest (topic: beetles) and will make a version without beetles.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

sourdough bread

When I come home from visiting family I usually feel strange and disjointed for a few days. In July I spent three weeks in Canada and before I left I made a list of things I was looking forward to doing at home so that when I came back I could blindly follow the things on my list until I felt normal again.
One thing I've been wanting to try for a while is sourdough. I used this recipe for a starter and after a few days I was ready to try my first loaf. The first and second attempt didn't work very well, but the third, fourth and fifth have been amazing.

I love how the parchment paper turned golden to match the bread.