Contrado fun

Last year Contrado checked in with me while I was recovering from surgery and asked if I wanted to design fabric again.

It was easy to say yes and I jumped into my photos to figure out what fabric to print again.

I had plenty of time to run through my photos to plan the fabric without having the fabric sample in my hands. Their website does provide lots of details about each fabric so I had a good idea about what would work best.

Dress cover up

This beach cover up is printed on their loose knit jersey.
“With 5% elastane, loose knit jersey has excellent stretch and recovery, making it a comfortable and easy fabric to wear. This is a very breathable fabric and has an interesting construction. The knit is somewhat uneven, creating a random pattern where the yarns are dense in some places and sparse in others. Loose knit is ideal for creating beautiful lightweight summer clothing.” 

I chose purple images because purple is big this year. I changed the images for a rich purple colour and this dress shows how good my photo turned out.

Wendy Ward’s new knit book “A beginner’s guide to sewing with knit fabrics had the perfect tee pattern that made the most of the print for me – Winnats tank.

I did pattern test this pattern so I would know how to best use the print.

The instructions and pattern pieces were spot on.


What I could have done to make my project decisions easier was to get the swatch pack offered by Contrado but as you can see from the fabric description, I was happy with this result.
classic natural paper swatch packs
Next time.

Garden party dress

With our ongoing Summer my next Contrado choice was their linen fabric.

Above is the original dress using my basic dress pattern and it worked out fairly well.
But then I thought I should do something more to make it more contemporary.

Above is the adjusted version with a sleeve ruffle.

Once I tried this on with the sleeve ruffle, I didn’t like where the ruffle was sitting.

After a spot of unpicking the ruffle I remarked the ruffle on the dress and used these cool chalk pencils from Prym to place it on the right spot.

As you can see from this close up, I’ve used my block pattern with a square neckline and I added a ruffle sleeve attachment.

I’ve machine sewed this ruffle onto the dress. Once this cold shoulder crazy ends, I’ll remove the shoulder ruffle.

The linen in this fabric took a lot of the purple saturation from the image out of the print. This print has a 1950s, country woman feel to it. Initially I was disappointed with the outcome but I decided to make this print work for me.

Contrado do offer a service to send you a test version of your print. That’s what I should have asked for before committing to this fabric.

The green in this print was the base of the image I used so I decided to use is at in the skirt.

Thanks to Contrado to giving me this opportunity to work with their fabrics again. I really enjoyed this experience and I’ve learnt more about how the extra services they provide so you can get a good result.

Dahlia print dress

Dahlias are a fav and I found a stunning variety to design my own fabric through Contrado UK for this Summer ‘little black’ dress. It’s still 30C here in Sydney so it’s still quite hot.

This print has great colours true to the image I used.

This is my third designer fabric print effort and I’ve really loved creating the fabric design, colour and balance for clothing.

This Simplicity 1357 dress is fairly straightforward to make and is perfect for hot, humid Summer days.

Simply hanging

The fabric I’ve chosen this time is a much firmer fabric so again I pondered on the dress style would work for me once the fabric arrived on my doorstep.

You can order Contrado fabric samples as there are 98 to choose from and I relied only on the detailed product descriptions on their website. This fabric is exactly what I wanted to work with.

This Lucent fabric is a “lightweight, shimmering double faced sateen fabric. Made of a satin weave, constructed of woven poly-based straight set filament fibres. This shiny, substantially opaque material is a high lustre fabric which is very light and airy, weighing only 120 gsm.”


The print panels are 50cm lengths and 139cm width. I placed the 3 dahlias across the panel and I used this print ‘side on’. 

Work in progress make with plain rayon fabric added to the side seams

I really love this huge print and then used a plain black rayon fabric on the back that has a similar shine to it. 

This rayon has enough shimmer to match the printed Lucent fabric

I’m saving the other two panels for another dress/coat that has a defined waistline but I have to think about where to place this print. I’m thinking of and asymmetrically placed dahlia. I may need to reflect on this idea for a while.

Happy dancing in the finished dress

Back to the print. Using the plain black fabric for the back allowed me to add enough of it on the front panel as the front hem width is about 10cm wider than the panel. It’s worked out quite nicely. There’s a balance to this dress with the print is very rewarding for a home sewer like me. 

The hem stops just under the dahlia and I can safely wear heels or flat shoes with this dress and it’s still balanced.

Ready to head out for the weekend

So this is the last of my three fabrics I created through Contrado and I hope this has encouraged you to try designing your own fabrics too.

Three Sisters print

A good friend of mine takes great landscape photos so he supplied me with a beautiful photo of the Three Sisters (Blue Mountains in New South Wales) now used on this digital print fabric using Contrado.co.uk Using digital prints is addictive.

Choosing the fabric
When I was trawling through the fabrics available from Contrado, I chose this soft French crepe fabric to compliment the clouds around the landscape although I didn’t have a garment in mind. I wasn’t worried about what I would make from this fabric. I just knew this was too good an opportunity to be hamstrung by the next step of creating this into a garment.

Grace of Badmomgoodmom sent me a link to this post and I’m so glad she did. Grace is very knowledgeable about a lot of things so I was very grateful for her note.

Figuring out what to make
Once this fabric arrived in the post, I checked out the dimensions and handled it for feel, drape and if it crushed easily. It does crush but it’s so soft, flowy and irons perfectly.

I use time to reflect on my projects so I put this fabric aside and then I pattern stashed dived and came up with three patterns options – a semi-fitted sleeveless top, a flowy top and a flowy dress.

The flowy top is what I decided to use. It’s Victory Patterns Simone pattern from a few years ago and I picked up this pattern from a destash we did at Port Macquarie that Sewbusylizzie ran 2 years ago.

The ‘How-to’

The panel is 50cm long so I had to decide on what I would use to balance this print to be in the right place for me.

With all the inspiring lace skirts that were being made at Susan Khalje’s Sydney course, I found a lace remnant in my stash and a firm knit fabric to balance into this print.

The reviews for this pattern showed the front opening is quite low and on me, it felt uncomfortable so I raised it by 5cm.

This fabric is really soft, has a bit of stretch and is still a firm weave so it was easy to sew. I’ve used french seams on the sides.


Below is the work appropriate version Three Sisters digital print using Butterick 5608 using the third panel I ordered. The rest of this blouse uses a cream coloured rayon remnant for the sleeves and back.

Butterick 5608

With the heat and humidity we’ve had this Summer, I’m getting used to wearing flowy tops on weekend. I still need to wear shaped clothes so I think I can safely pair this with skinny jeans, or a fitted skirt or shorts.

Is that it?

I have one more digital printed fabric that I’ve made through Contrado UK that I’ll show you in a couple of weeks time. 

Now you’ve seen two out of three fabrics I’ve designed through Contrado and I feel this has been a great design journey.

Terrigal swimsuit

Making a splash

Friends who know me call me a designer so I took the plunge and used a holiday photo to design a digital print fabric through Contrado UK.
Contrado have a good range of fabrics and this one is their swimwear/activewear fabric. In fact they now have 98 fabrics to choose from Contrado so I knew this project would be heaps of fun.
Even now, I can’t believe I designed my own digital print fabric with a pic I took on my iPhone this Summer. Can someone please pinch me? I sew clothes and now I can design my own printed fabrics.
I sew anything so it made sense to try a couple of fabrics and be a ‘designer’ with Contrado.

This Terrigal swimsuit is one of three projects I’ve designed. I took this photo during the Christmas break unaware that I could use it for a digital print fabric.

Designing your own fabric
Without having any formal design skills or skills using a design app, Contrado’s fabric design makes this easy to do. This is my first time designing fabric and I was impressed that I could do this on my iphone as well as on my laptop.

They’ve thought this through from a user’s perspective so you don’t need design skills. I have none and I was able to get this fabric printed for my new cozzies*.
The fabric
I’ve used the Slinky Matt Lycra 210gsm. This fabric lives up to its name with its sexy and slinky form-fitting drape (#blushing).
This custom made Lycra has a smooth and slippy face, with a slightly softer inside. The firm, medium weight of this 4-way stretch Matt Lycra makes it a supportive fabric with an almost completely opaque finish. Highly elastic, it has a slightly firmer resistance than a lighter weight Lycra.
 For this project I printed 3 panels of this landscape on swimwear fabric. The panel sizes are 0.5m lengths and 145cm wide. I had no real idea what pattern I would use so it made sense to get 2 lengths.
A full size cozzie is about 70cm long so when the fabric arrived, I had a few options to make the most of this print.
You can kind of see the join from this inside view.

The key idea was to place the start of the sky just above my chest. The rest of the cozzie body had the dark landscape for a more flattering look.

Print tetrus was fun and I got the best option by overlaying some of the waves at the base and some of the sky on the shoulders.

The overlay markings are on the pattern pieces.
Would you believe I’m still thinking through a two-piece cozzie style that highlights this print? I’ll take any pattern suggestions you have. Just leave a comment and I’ll consider it.
Making my cozzies
Making these cozzies was child’s play (Kwik Sew 2962). I added powermesh lining for the bust shelf.

As it was important to try some pattern matching, I redrew the pattern pieces and placed them on the fabric to make sure the horizon was across my chest and balanced.

 Delivery
This fabric design was finalised on a Thursday and I received it on the following Tuesday. I enjoyed watching the delivery tracking online as this fabric made its way from the UK to Australia.
Research
It’s only now that I googled previous reviews of Contrado and found that last year Katie (http://whatkatiesews.net/printing-with-contrado) and some UK sewing bloggers including Rosie (http://diy-couture.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/making-bespoke-fabric-in-london.html) visited Contrado last year. Have a read about their visit to Contrado.
When I ordered my fabric, I did this sight unseen. Other sewing bloggers received fabric samples. I relied solely on the website’s descriptions and I am really pleased with the fabrics I’ve received. 

If you have a particular fabric/project in mind, I would order fabric samples.
What else do they have
Well…Contrado also has a decent range custom clothing you can print on and homewares are being added. I was tempted to print on the kimono but I decided theimpact of the photo on it because you would be lost.
The turnaround time for this is between 2 – 3 days.
So what are you waiting for?
Try Contrado for yourself.
*cozzies is Australian for swimsuit.