It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Karma Kraft, the newest digital fabric printing service on the scene, and True Up’s newest sponsor. Owner/founder Susan Lu has a background in textile design, and Karma Kraft’s services reflect that. Several factors set Karma Kraft apart from the competition: the variety of base cloths (various weights and weaves of cotton, linen, polyester, and silk), the wide 58″ width of their cottons and polyesters, the myriad of options for color matching, their acceptance of high-resolution (150 dpi+) files in a wide variety of formats, lack of minimums or maximums for your order, and — this is really exciting — their design and cut & sew services. So even if you are not a professional designer or sewist, you can have your ideas made up for you as completed projects.
As you know, I am very excited about digital textile printing becoming more accessible to the average everyday designer. I asked Susan to tell us a bit more about digital fabric printing for the layperson, and how Karma Kraft came about.
What did you do before Karma Kraft?
I was working in a textile trading company that made various textile products — everything from pillows to cute stuffed animals to handbags. It is a pretty big company, but the thought of doing my own thing was so much more exciting. I also got great advice from my best friend who is a successful fabric designer and went to North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles.
When and why did you decide to get into digital textile printing?
The main reason is that I enjoy being a part of the design and crafting community. I love being able to give people the opportunity to create their own personal fabric, and see all of the untapped talent and creativity out there. It is so nice to hear or read the excitement and enthusiasm in each person’s heart when they receive their fabric. We are a fairly new company but have many years of textile design experience. We hope to utilize our talents along with the talent of those we work with.
You offer cut & sew services too — can you tell us a bit about that?
Sure! We are aware of the fact that there are great designs and designers who would like to have their designs “made up,” but not everyone has the ability or time to do the sewing. There are certainly many that have that talent, but we wanted to also offer those who do not a way to produce their own product too. So we do offer a cut and sew option with our service. The customer can simply tell us the dimensions of the pillow, scarf, dress, sheet set, etc., and we will cut and sew it for a small fee. All we need are the dimensions of the product and we will make it. If the product is fairly straightforward the average cost is only $10.00 per product for the cut and sew service. We feel this service makes us unique.
What do most people currently use their custom fabrics for? What are some other creative ideas that people might want to try?
That’s hard to say. We offer such a wide variety of base fabrics, we have people using all sorts of applications for the end use. Our 100% silk is loved by those who want to make scarfs, dresses, and blouses; the 100% linen gets attention in that area as well. Our 100% cotton canvas and our suede fabric is applied to handbags, grocery totes, and pillows.
I have a really cool idea for the graphic designer who can make incredible designs on the computer but who freezes up when you put a paintbrush in his or her hand. Digital printing provides a great way to show off your artwork in the traditional manner: On the wall. We have the ability to print up to 58″ wide, so all graphic designers can print their artwork on fabric, frame it, and hang it over the fireplace. I really love this idea!
Do you need to worry about the designs fading in the wash?
No, all of our fabrics have great colorfastness. After printing, the fabric hangs in a high-tempreature room (feels like a sauna :>) which sets the dye solidly into the yarn. Then the fabric is washed to give it great hand and drape. So when you receive the fabric it has already been washed — there will be no further fading in your wash. I have a set of sheets I designed with our medium weight 100% cotton and they still look and feel great!
What are some common mistakes/pitfalls to know about when creating designs for digital printing?
I would say the main thing is to make sure when you start your design that the resolution is at 150dpi or greater. We can still print your design if it is under that but it will not be as clear and crisp as it would at a higher resolution. The other thing to pay attention to is the color. When printing we use CMYK colors. However, as each computer screen will read a bit differently in color we also offer three other options. One is the option for the customer to order the Karma Color Blanket, which has 7667 colors, and just specify your colors from our blanket. The other color matching options are to use the Pantone TPX color as a reference, or you can also use the Sherwin-Williams color chart for reference and we will match the colors based on your specified color. You can also order a small sample swatch prior to placing the larger order to confirm the colors. We want to make the process as easy as possible for the customer!
I think many people would love to try digital fabric printing but are either paralyzed by options, or paralyzed by insecurity in their design skills. (Or both!) What do you say to encourage these folks?
I don’t think people should be scared to try to create their own design. When I design I find images in nature, architecture, textures, etc., and photograph them. Then I take them home and draw ideas from those motifs and combine elements and texture to create my own designs. I also find ideas in vintage fabrics, artwork, and magazines. Some people may not have the computer skills to do everything they would like, but I feel the best way to learn is to sit down and become familiar with whatever software you have and give it a shot. There is not really any right or wrong, it’s just a matter of some practice and imagination. Collecting information from knowledgeable friends and online instructions about different drawing programs will help. There are no limits in choosing colors when digital printing, so the color options are endless. If you are not confident in creating a design on the computer you can create a design in the traditional way, on paper, then scan the image and submit the design for printing that way. There are many different ways to submit your design for printing, just contact us and we can help you through the process.
Where do you see this relatively new technology going?
I believe there are many opportunities for the individual as well as small businesses to create their own style and look. Traditional printing methods are very costly (burning screens, minimum orders) and I think digital printing is the answer to those obstacles. Whether you are a design student wanting to add to a portfolio, a professional wanting to create and expand a design collection, or just someone who enjoys being creative, Karma Kraft can help you accomplish YOUR vision. You design it, We print it!!
Thank you so much, Susan! You can follow Karma Kraft via their blog. Become a part of their growing community by signing up to be a Karma Krafter. This allows you to share/promote designs, vote for your favorite designs, post in the Karma forums (coming soon), join Karma chats (also coming soon), and “spread good Karma.”