Pros of Spoonflower: Right now, they’re the only ones doing what they do (as far as I know) providing an awesome service I’ve been wishing was a thing for years. They’re well known enough to be seen as a source of good fabric by crafters and seamstresses. The quality of the fabric is comparable to that you’d find in a brick and mortar fabric store, though I’ll admit I’ve not tried out all their varieties of fabric. I’ve had lots of people buy fabric from me, some who’ve never heard of me from anywhere else.
And customers have the ability to ask me if I can tweak the design for them. For example, someone wanted my mermaid damask design in blue and turquoise, and I was able to change the colors for them. You can print the design as large or small as you need without even bugging the designer. I know I’ve found a great fabric before that I couldn’t use because the pattern was too big or small for my purposes.
I’ve used them a few times to print my art on fabric for gallery showings, which is more fun than printing on paper and cheaper than printing on canvas.
I love that I can order wacky prints on something other than quilting cotton!!! I have way too many things made of that stiff, easily wrinkled quilting cotton because I love weird patterns, and most apparel fabric doesn’t offer even close to that variety. I vowed to stop buying quilting cotton for clothes, and this way, I can still get my fix of cool designs while be comfortable and not so wrinkly.
Cons of Spoonflower: Right now, they’re the only ones doing what they do (as far as I know) so there’s no competition and prices are still pretty high. Which I actually don’t think is too bad. This is custom fabric, this is a luxury, this can be a high price. But the problem is that designers have no say in the price. The profits we make are fixed and there’s no wiggle room, unless we want to buy it in bulk ourselves and sell it ourselves. I’d like to be able to say “I spent an hour on this so this is cheap, I spent two weeks on this, so this costs more.”
There are also some objectively bad designs on there. The front page has really, really nice work, and I’d say at least half of what I’ve seen is nice, but there’s a large amount of work that just doesn’t work. People who don’t bother to make their work a repeating pattern, things uploaded with too low a resolution, things that look nice on the screen but don’t work as fabric (remember, pixels and ink are two different things!) And smart consumers will know to stay clear, but this stuff is too expensive to face such disappointment when the package arrives. Which isn’t to say Spoonflower should be doing something about the bad designers. Every designer has to start somewhere, everyone has different tastes. This is mostly just a note to make sure to make sure the design you want it as good as you think it is before buying.
All in all, I like it. I just ordered a few yards of my brains fabric for myself and it should be here in a couple days and I’m very excited about it. I got the performance knit, which is really soft and feels wonderful. I’ll post pictures once I can decide what I’m going to make out of it.