Thursday, 5 November 2015

Print, Make, Wear. By Melanie Bowles and The People's Print. Review.

Print, Make, Wear

Creative Projects for Digital Textile Design

Melanie Bowles and The People’s Print

Laurence King Publishing 2015

Paperback £19.95

ISBN 978 1 78067 4704

Star rating: *****

This week I’ve been spotlighting books about DIY design – and the “everyone’s a maker” phenomenon. Like the Spoonflower Handbook, which I reviewed earlier, Print, Make, Wear teaches skills that will enable you to create digitally-printed designs – projects that can be realised by sending them to a print bureau for manufacture. The book contains 14 projects from talented contributors, each designed to target specific design skills. 

The author, Melanie Bowles, is Senior Lecturer in Digital Textile Design at the renowned Chelsea College of Art and Design. She is a mover and shaker in the textile division of the “everyone’s a maker” movement (check out  In the forward to the book,  Dr Emma Neuberg, also of The People’s Print says, “ Print, Make, Wear” acts as a bridge between ideas and making, presented in an accessible, easy to follow way.”

Each project is a digital design tutorial, focussing on a particular style of design, or a skill or technique. (A difficulty rating is given for each task – they are all ** or ***– so neither doddles or rocket science.) The illustrated step-by-steps provide detailed technical info for creating digital designs. Cue lots of tips and priceless information on working the magic. Which brings us to Catch-22: access to the Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop programs is required – kind of a “let them eat cake” situation if you are a hobbyist . These programs are the industry standard – but they are pricey. If you want to send your finished designs to be produced by a print bureau, these programs are preferred. (For you own personal hobby use, you could probably create surface pattern designs by alternative methods - for the photographic designs, maybe Photoshop Elements can be used. For the vector designs, maybe Inkscape or Paint Shop Pro... you will have to be resourceful.)

Anyway, back to the projects. The designs – and the presentation – are fabulous. Project #1, The Paintbrush Floral, teaches you an ingenious method of creating a Liberty-style floral print in repeat. Scanned floral silhouettes are the individual elements of the design, which can be arranged in groupings and re-combined. Even if you can’t draw, results are achievable. Other projects include a geometric print created from an origami paper collage. This includes tips on how to mend seams – the pattern repeat join. Another project is the creation of a signature check. There is a project using bokeh photography – Japanese-style blurry images. So – lots of variety, lots to learn. 

Happy days – many of the projects are needlecraft-inspired. They are heavenly. Cue a Bargello (flame stitch) dress, a patchwork skirt (print designed from vintage fabrics), digital shibori (Japanese tie-dye patterns), faux cross-stitch, and a print designed by Polish folk embroidery. 

I know you guys love colouring books – and one of the projects is a print based upon scanned-in colouring book images, inked-in with felt-tips.

The Made in Brixton Jacket teaches how to engineer a design onto the pieces of a commercial pattern. (This is a skill that can be applied to print-and-cut papercrafts.)

The detailed tuts are beautifully presented, with computer screen shots where required. 

My blog is, of course, The Papercraft Post. And Print, Make, Wear teaches digital textile design skills. What’s the connection? This title teaches powerful pattern design skills that can be applied to your papercrafts. Your surface is paper, rather than fabric. You will be able to design your own giftwrap and print-and-cut designs.

Back-of-book, there’s a handy resources section listing digital print companies according to geographical region. 

Summing up, Print, Make, Wear is a treat - a series of craft workshops in book form, it delivers the goods in providing techie how-tos in an understandable fashion. It is a genuine skill-builder and would make a wonderful gift for anybody who wants to learn about digital surface pattern design.
Note: if you'd like to pursue the subject of digital textile design, you might want to check out this eponymous title,Digital Textile Design,by Melanie Bowles (Print, Make, Wear author) and Ceri Isaac, which was reviewed on this blog earlier.