Though from time to time I may look like a walking mannequin from a Salvation Army store window, my wife and her friends fancy themselves worthy candidates for New York Magazine’s ‘Look Book’ page – that is, when they’re feeling dressy.
Take for example, an ensemble worn to one of our recent dinner parties (really a rollicking kid-friendly affair punctuated with referee calls from parents comfortably seated on ergonomic furniture). After changing out of her pirate outfit (it was also a costume event for the kids), a friend donned a stunning dress from Tucker. The cut and flow of the dress was outstanding, and the abrupt way in which it stopped mid-thigh hinted at a bit of sass.
As we applauded her stylist’s eye for what my wife called the ‘hottie dress’, the friend let us in on a bit of detail about the textile design. The heresy went something like this: Gaby Basora of Tucker, co-opted a few scribbles from her son’s artwork, digitized the image, and forwarded it to her textile designers who worked their magic creating bolts of fabric with this unique and original pattern. Thus ‘Jack’s Special Print’ was born.
This made me wonder if it was possible for me to create my own custom textiles. While researching the process online, I came across EDP Textiles, a company that promises “eco digital printed textiles” from whatever designs you choose to send them. Abobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign files formats are preferred, and though TIFF files are suggested, they also accept high-resolution JPEG files. The catch? The minimum order for custom designed fabric is a whopping 5,000 yards. So before you decide to print Junior’s ‘Airplanes and Flowers’ on a few bolts of 233-thread-count organic cotton, first think of what you’ll do with the remaining yardage.
EDP Textiles was not an option for me, so I decided to trawl the Tucker website for clues. But nothing on the site offered information that validated my dinner guest’s claim. Still intrigued, I had my people contact Tucker’s people, and the heartfelt story told over dinner quickly began to fall apart. Apparently the pattern is called Jack’s Favorite (not ‘Special’) Print. And although 7-year-old Jack did favor the pattern and chose buttons to accompany the finished garments, he had nothing to do with the textile design.
Alas, this all served as one grand Aha! Inspiration by way of a bit of embellishment. Refusing to give up on the concept of custom textile design, I finally discovered ‘Printing by Hand’, a DIY book that has recently hit Amazon’s virtual bookshelves. The beautifully photographed manual by Lena Corwin – a fellow Brooklynite and textile designer – is great for beginners and pros alike. “Utilizing step-by-step instructions and up-close photos, Corwin teaches crafters everything they need to know to master stamping, stenciling, and screen printing, from making their own printing devices to trouble-shooting when plans go awry.” After honing the process, I’ll alter the medium, using homemade vegetable dyes instead of environmentally unfriendly pigments.