As I have noted before, in a small business like mine, I have to fulfil all the job descriptions. In a larger set-up there would be a Product Manager to brief the designer in the early stages of developing a new product and to check the prototype, once the product is made. At Amanda Jane Textiles, it doesn’t quite work like that…
With the patterns I write for Patchwork, Quilting and Sewing, I usually write a rough version of the instructions while I am making the textile item, trying to remember to take a photo at every single stage. So I know the pattern works because I have the finished item right in front of me, BUT it is really easy to make small errors in typing up the instructions, so in this case I do rely on someone else. An eagle-eyed proof-reader who is also a quilter, subjects my work to careful scrutiny before it goes to the printer. Every time the pattern has been improved by this process, so the contribution of my expert proof-reader is an absolute necessity to me.
With the fabric designs I create, which are on the Spoonflower website (click here to see them), there is a built-in development stage, because Spoonflower rightly insist that a proof is made of the design before it can be put on sale. Often, the print looks just right as it is, but on occasion I have adjusted the scale of the print (smaller, larger) or have very slightly adjusted the registration of the repeat, so that the pattern looks seamless when printed in quantity. Or there may be a tiny change to the art-work which will enhance the print, so I will do that. I always make sure I have a perfect (corrected) print before putting the design on sale.
With the textile products on Spoonflower, it is a bit more complicated. My first was ‘The Cheshire Cat’ which is a cut-and-sew-kit, printed on a lovely linen-cotton mix fabric.
Making up the kit showed that it worked well, but the size of the cat needed to be reduced as it didn’t fit easily onto a fat quarter. The photo above shows the second version. The cat is designed to be fairly flat so it can be cuddled by a child, but so it can also be used as a pillow to lie on. I decided it was important to say in the instructions that the head shouldn’t be stuffed too much, so that meant re-writing them and re-inserting them into the art-work. The second version of the cat was duly printed and then cut out again and made up and looks fine.
Next up was a festive bag to put a gift in, maybe a bottle of wine, but which could equally well contain a nice bottle of olive oil. This is also printed onto a fat quarter, so a yard of fabric makes four gift bags. When I made up the first prototype, I found that I wanted to change the instructions a little, so once again they had to be re-written and re-inserted into the art-work. Also a couple of small adjustments to the design made the cutting and stitching lines clearer. So that is now all set.
Most recently, it was an Advent Calendar, which I designed because someone at a show asked me to!
Once again, I wanted this to fit onto a fat-quarter of fabric (including the instructions too) so it makes a finished product fourteen and a half by ten inches (37 x 25.5cm), with pockets that are a perfect size to slip in a small treat such as piece of chocolate money. Only small adjustments were made this time: a slight straightening of a line, a touch-up of the hand-painted background and a minor change to the instructions.
Having done all this development in isolation, it is particularly nice to get feedback from customers, so if you are reading this and you have tried and liked – or even if you have not liked – one of my products, please get in touch!