My nomination for Most Amazing Fabric Award

Last night I actually dreamt about sewing, I stitched up this amazing dress in under an hour (ha!) and it fitted perfectly even though I didn’t seem to use a pattern or try it on at any stage (double ha!). It must be a sign that I have finally gone crazy from lack of sewing because this weekend…there may be sewing room pics…but don’t hold you breath, I’ll do that for us since you are all probably sick of me babbling on about this imaginary room ;)

Right, on to the fabric: I think I may have just bought the most amazing fabric. In. The. World!

Ok, maybe you disagree with me, we are all entitled to our opinions but seriously, this has to be right up there though, no?

I found this, of all places, in Spotlight, it’s a medium weight cotton drill and I should have included something in this image for scale, oops. The envelope patterns are about the size of, well, real envelope patterns.

I was meant to be looking at curtains (which, contrary to nerdy husbands assertions, does not count as sewing!) but I saw this first and carried the bolt all over the shop for about 20 minutes until I was ready just in case someone else saw it. This is not uncommon for me, I often carry several bolts all over a store until I am ready to purchase, it’s my mulling time. I’m sure I drive the shop assistants crazy because I usually decline their offer to place them on the counter even though I am usually just one bolt away from dangerously overloading my poor arms.

It’s my fabric, mine ;)

So many possibilities but right now I am thinking of using it for the long overdue sewing machine carry bag for my Elna (which will be a direct rip off of my Bernina overlocker bag), but really that could change at any second! Of course it should be something sewing related though.

Tell me, what would you do with this amazing fabric?

Have you ever seen/purchased a fabric that should be nominated for the Most Amazing Fabric Award?

Hey that looks familiar!

I love spotting fabric I have purchased made up as RTW clothing!

First, let’s have a reminder of the fabric. It’s the slightly-psychedelic-is-that-photo-even-in-focus? ikat style print.

On Friday I spotted this little baby in the Wellington Women magazine (Winter 2012):

This dress is from Madame Fancy Pants and is called the Leah Dress. MFP is in Cuba Street right here in Wellington so it’s not such a huge surprise to see a fabric I bought in Wellington made up as a dress by an independent clothing store.

It’s not the style I envisioned for this fabric and I would definitely have centred the print (of course I don’t have to worry about wastage over multiple dresses!) but it’s fun to see someone elses take on using a fabric.

Have you ever spotted a fabric you’ve purchased in a magazine or in a shop already made up as a RTW item?

Did it change how you were going to use the fabric?

Tutorial: Visualising Fabric on Patterns – Part Two (Gimp)

Welcome to part two of my tutorial showing you how I transform pattern line drawings with photographs of my fabrics to get a little taste of the end result. It also helps me decide if I like the pattern in that fabric and it is particularly helpful when using boarder prints to work out how best to place the pattern pieces on the fabric.


If you missed part one using Photoshop have a look here.

As I said before, I am quite new to Gimp but it is an incredible program for free. I’ve done my best to replicate the part one post so you can achieve the same beautiful images as I do using Photoshop.

For this tutorial, to keep it interesting I have a different pattern and fabric selection.

Here is the download link I used to install Gimp. You should also grab the help plug-in download in your language while you are there; install this after successfully installing Gimp.

Although Gimp is written for Linux-based operating systems (such as Ubuntu) this version is specifically for running in Windows and seems pretty stable  (I had a couple of freezes and one crash but I was being pretty brutal and hey, I’ve used worse and for more important projects!)

(Typical but important disclaimer: At the time I downloaded the above files were clean and free of viruses. Even when downloading from a reputable website you should always use up-to-date virus protection software to scan all downloaded files before installing them in your computer and re-scan your computer after installation as well. FYI: I use AVG Free which is excellent.)

OK ready? Good, let’s begin:

What you’ll need

- Gimp program

- A really good photo of your fabric.

Iron any major wrinkles out and take a photo by standing on a chair over your fabric. Try to get as much in the photo as you can but don’t stress if you get your feet in there or the colours don’t look perfect, we’ll fix them up later on. My picture isn’t prefect but I know I can fix that up later on, you’ll see.

I got this amazing jersey print from Potters

- A clean line drawing of your pattern.

My scanner has decided to stop talking to my computer so my image for this post is taken with my camera…but it ends up being a good example to show you that any image can be fixed up (even this crappy pink toned photograph) and jazzed up with your choice of fabric.

For my example I’m using dress 173 from the Manequim issue 621

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First of all let’s go over a few of the Gimp tools I’ll be referring to and where to find them (click images to enlarge):

Free Select tool – this tool is great for drawing selections that are weird shapes.

Crop tool – Just what it says, used for cropping an image down to just what’s needed

Move tool – Use to move parts of an image about

Fuzzy Select tool – The most amazing tool in the world and it is just a little bit magical, used for automatically selecting areas of the same or similar colour

Zoom tool – To zoom in select this tool and click on your drawing. To Zoom out again hold Ctrl and click

Scale tool – Used to change the size of your image (similar to “Transform” in Photoshop)

In Gimp the Layers and History share the same window, you swap between them using the tabs at the top

Layers Window – This is where you control your images layers. They list here as you build them up in the image. For this example we’ll only end up with two or three layers so it won’t get too complicated. The darker grey layer is the one that is active so if you find what you are doing to your image isn’t affecting the right layer pop over to the Layers window and check that you have the correct layer selected.

History Window – If you make a mistake in any of the steps below you can click back in the History list to undo it. You can also Ctrl + Z or Edit > Undo to go back several steps but sometimes it’s easier to view these step using the History window.

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The first thing I do is prepare my pattern line drawing.

Open your patter image file.

Select File > Open and browse to your image, open it

You can see my image is a photo from the instruction page. It contains a bit of text as well as the pattern line drawing.

Since I am only interested in the line drawing  I am going to crop the image down to just that.

Select the crop tool then click and drag across your image to enclose only what you want left behind. The parts of the image that will be cropped out are shown dark grey.

You can move the selection box around with your mouse or adjust it by grabbing at each edge to fine tune the selection. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to increase the size by small amounts.

When you are happy with your selection press enter on your keyboard and your image is cropped.

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If you are using a photograph or scanned image like me you’ll probably find your image isn’t perfectly black and white, this is no good for us because firstly it doesn’t look very good and secondly when we use the Fuzzy Select Tool to remove some of the white it’s just not going to work so well. We need to make sure our image is truly black and white so let’s desaturate it just to be sure.

Select Colors > Desaturate, click ok.

Even if your image looks black and white it’s a good idea to desaturate it anyway.

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Now comes the fun part. We need to remove the white from the inside of the line drawing so we can see through it. To make this easier you might need to enhance your image a little. If you scanned your image from a magazine or envelope (or took a photo like me) it’s an especially good idea to make the black darker and the white brighter.

Select Colors > Brightness-Contrast and adjust the sliders to improve your image.

Subtle works best here, but if your image is particularly bad (like mine) you may need to bump both sliders up quite high. Just have a play, you can slide them back and forth until you are happy, you don’t want to distort the line-work. This makes the next step that much easier.

Click OK when you are done

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Now we need to do something funky that I don’t quite understand (I might be a Photoshop Queen but I am definitely a Gimp N00b) but we need to do it so just trust me on this one…

Select Layer > Transparency > Add to Alpha Channel

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Now we are going to use the Fuzzy Select tool to quickly select the white and then delete it.

Select the Fuzzy Select Tool and then click on a white part of your image that you want to remove (basically all the central areas) then press delete.

You should reveal a grey chequered background, this is a good thing. Our layer is now kind of floating over nothing. Now we are looking through the deleted areas at that nothing.

You can select multiple areas to delete using the Fuzzy Select tool and holding the shift key on your keyboard. Keep selecting and deleting areas until you have them all.

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If you find an area doesn’t select very well or the Fuzzy Select tool selects too much you can manually select these areas using the Free Select tool.

Select the Free Select tool and zoom in to the troubling area. Click around the areas you want to remove to create an enclosed selection (the marching ants) then press delete.

When zoomed in you can move around within the image by holding down the space bar on your keyboard

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Right, now let’s sort out our fabric

Open you fabric photo image

Select File > Open and browse to your image, open it

Now you might not be happy with the colour or contrast of your fabric image, we can fix this up using the following tools.

Select Colors > Color Balance and adjust the sliders to correct any colour discrepancies. Again, subtle is best and the general rule is that if you image looks a bit magenta, drag the Magenta/Green slider away from magenta. If it looks a little yellow, drag the Yellow/Blue slider away from yellow etc…When you are happy, click OK

Select Color > Brightness-Contrast and adjust the sliders to improve your images brightness and contrast, click OK when you are happy with the result

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I took a pretty big photo of my fabric and because it’s jersey I was able to get it really flat and wrinkle free, most of the image is good, I just have to chop out my toes and the hideous carpet, hehe

Select the crop tool  then click and drag across your image to enclose only what you want left behind. The parts of the image that will be cropped out are shown dark grey.

You can move the selection box around with your mouse or adjust it by grabbing at each edge to fine tune the selection. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to increase the size by small amounts.

When you are happy with your selection press enter on your keyboard and your image is cropped.

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Ok, we’re nearly there, still with me? Good :)

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Now for a little bit of technical jiggery.

We need to just quickly check our pattern image size so that when we copy our fabric into it we’ll have a bit of an idea of how much we need to crop it.

Select Image > Print Size

My image measures 12cm wide by 15cm tall, make a note of this, we’ll use that bit of info in a little bit.

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Now comes the proper exciting bit, we’re going to finally copy and paste our fabric image into our pattern image and get the first glimpse of how it all looks, ohhh!

Right click on your fabric image and select Edit > Copy

Now right click on your pattern image and select Edit > Paste

Our fabric image appears but it is huge! We need to scale it down a little.

Click on the Scale tool  then click on your image

The Scale dialogue box pops up, wow, our fabric is a huge 60cm wide!

Let’s bring that down a bit, I’ve typed 15cm into the width box (remember my patter image is 12cm wide), the height adjusts automatically

That looks better doesn’t it?

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Now take your mouse over to the layer window and right-click on the Floating Selection (Pasted Layer) and click New Layer

Our fabric image automatically became the top layer but we want to put it below so grab the active layer (Pasted Layer – our fabric, you can see the little thumbnail) and drag it below the Background layer (our pattern image)

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So far so good, but now we need to move our fabric about a bit and maybe even change its size.

Click on the Scale tool  then click on your image.

To change the size of you fabric image grab one of the corner handles on the transform box. As you drag it smaller (or bigger) hold down the shift key to keep the proportions correct. Let go when you are happy with the size.

Clicking and drag the circle inside the transform box to move the fabric image around.

If you want to change the orientation of your fabric image right-click on your image and select Image > Transform you can choose to rotate your image 90 or 180 degrees.

When you are happy with your scaling you can press enter on your keyboard.

Use the Move tool  to further adjust the position of your fabric image and you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to fine tune it.

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You can see that I have positioned my fabric at the bottom of my image but it isn’t big enough to fill the whole dress so I need more fabric to fill in the top part.

I can with just make a copy of the fabric layer and reposition it.

Take your mouse over to the Layers Window and left-click on your fabric’s layer, select Duplicate Layer

Now you have a second fabric layer. If you like you rotate this layer (right-click Image > Transform) then use the Move tool  and reposition it to fill the leftover space

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One you are happy with your final image the last thing we need to do is flatten the image so we can re-save it as a jpeg.

Take your mouse over to the layers window and right-click on one of the layers, select Flatten Image

Now save your image

Select File > Save As

Chose where to save your file, give it a good name and select your File Type as JPEG, click Save

Aaaaand you’re done, good job! :)

Ohh I like it! For this example I DO have enough fabric for this pattern, but there are also two other dresses I might want to use it for. How can I decide? Of course I can repeat the above and decide which result I like the best :)

This is only my second quite technical software post so if you have any questions or get stuck on a step please contact me through the comments on this post and I will do my best to help you out and improve any steps as needed.

I’d love to see your images so please feel free to share them with me.

Good luck! xx

IMPORTANT: This work is my creation and my intellectual property, protected under a Creative Commons license. You may not use it for any commercial purposes, claim it as your own, or resell it.

Creative Commons License

The Curious Kiwi Tutorial: Visualising Fabric on Patterns – Part Two (Gimp) by thecuriouskiwi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tutorial: Visualising Fabric on Patterns – Part One (Photoshop)

I was hoping to share some sewing with you today but I had a bit of a crazy weekend. I’ll share more of that with you later but for now, here’s what I was working on most of Saturday.

I posted recently about my NERDY stash busting using Evernote. Several sharp-eyed seamstresses noticed that in my examples I had included images showing my selected fabrics with the pattern line drawing. I make these up to help me decide if I like the pattern in that fabric and also to help me chose how best to place my pattern pieces on the fabric, for example if it is a boarder print like in two of the examples below.  I find if I get the perfect fabric choice I’m much more excited about the finished result.

So for those of you who were curious how I achieved this, and so you should be, I would love to share with you how I do it.

I use a program by Adobe called Photoshop. My version is quite old (version 7.0 – if you have a newer version you should still be able to follow along) it is very common due to its pre everyone-has-an-internet-connection registration process so a few of you might have it. If you don’t and cannot get a copy (new versions are quite expensive) do not fear because there is a free Ubuntu program called Gimp which is really great and so similar to Photoshop it makes me giggle. I downloaded it from here and it runs in Windows. You should also grab the help plug-in download in your language while you are there; install this after successfully installing Gimp.

(Typical but important disclaimer: At the time I downloaded the above files were clean and free of viruses. Even when downloading from a reputable website you should always use up-to-date virus protection software to scan all downloaded files before installing them in your computer and re-scan your computer after installation as well. FYI: I use AVG Free which is excellent.)

To keep this manageable I’ll cover Photoshop first in this post and sort out Gimp in the next post

OK ready? Good, let’s begin:

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Tutorial: Visualising Fabric on Patterns – Part One (Photoshop)

What you’ll need:

- Adobe Photoshop 7.0 or newer

- A really good photo of your fabric.

Iron any major wrinkles out and take a photo by standing on a chair (be careful) over your fabric. Try to get as much in the photo as you can but don’t stress if you get your feet in there or the colours don’t look perfect, we’ll sort that out later on. My picture isn’t prefect but I know I can fix it up, you’ll see.

This beautiful cotton sateen came from Potters fabrics, it feels amazing to touch and the colours are just gorgeous, I can’t wait to use it for something

- A clean line drawing of your pattern

I usually just get one from the website or if it is from a magazine or old pattern then you may need to scan/photograph it. The other option is to just search Google images and you might get lucky.

For my example I’m using Butterick’s 5455 dress A

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First of all let’s go over a few of the Photoshop tools I’ll be referring to and where to find them (click images to enlarge):

Polygon Lasso tool – this tool is great for drawing selections that are weird shapes

Crop tool – Just what it says, used for cropping an image down to just what’s needed

Move tool – Use to move parts of an image about

Magic Wand tool – The most amazing tool in the world and it really is magic, used for automatically selecting areas of the same or similar colour

Zoom tool – To zoom in select this tool and click on your drawing. To Zoom out again hold Alt and click

Hand tool – When you are zoomed on your image sometimes you need to move about to see another area. Select the hand tool and click and grab to move about the image. You can also hold down the space bar while using any other tool (it’s a bit faster)

Layers Window – This is where you control your images layers. They list here as you build them up in the image. For this example we’ll only end up with two or three layers so it won’t get too complicated. The darker grey layer is the one that is active so if you find what you are doing to your image isn’t affecting the right layer pop over to the Layers window and check that you have the correct layer selected.

History Window – If you make a mistake in any of the steps below you can click back in the History list to undo it. Ctrl + Z or Edit > Undo will work for one step backwards but to go back 2 or more steps you need to use the History window.

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The first thing I do is prepare my pattern line drawing. Open your pattern image file.

Select File > Open and browse to your image, open it

You can see my file contains all the pattern options and the back view as well. Since I am only interested in the front view ‘A’ I am going to crop the image down to just that.

Select the crop tool (or press ‘C’ on your keyboard) then click and drag across your image to enclose only what you want left behind.

The parts of the image that will be cropped out are shown dark grey. You can move the selection box around with your mouse or adjust the handles to fine tune the selection or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it around by a small amount. When you are happy with your selection press enter on your keyboard and your image is cropped.

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If you are using a black and white image from the internet like me you’ll probably find your image’s colour mode setting is “Grayscale” or  “Indexed  Color”, this is no good for us since our fabric photo will be in colour and when we drag it into our pattern image it will automatically change to black and white. So we need to check the colour mode and change it if necessary.

Select Image > Mode > RGB to change your images colour mode.

I could write a whole essay on CYMK vs. RGB but it’s not relevant to this tutorial so we are using RGB since the idea of Red/Green/Blue will be more familiar to most people.

If you scanned your image in it might already be in colour (RGB), for reasons that are a bit magical it is a good idea to change it to Grayscale, and then back to RGB.

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Photoshop uses Layers to give you more control over your images. At the moment our pattern image is a background layer. Because we want to make some changes to it and also stick our fabric image under it we need to change it to something more usable.

This is really easy to do, simply get your mouse and double-click on the layer labelled “Background” and click “ok”. It is now re-named to “Layer 0” and if it helps you to visualise what’s about to happen next, imagine that this layer is floating over nothing.

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Now comes the fun part. We need to remove the white from the inside of the line drawing so we can see through it. To make this easier you might need to enhance your image a little. If you scanned your image from a magazine or envelope it’s an especially good idea to make the black darker and the white brighter.

Select Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast and adjust the sliders to improve your image.

Subtle works best here, you can see I’ve only needed to up my Contrast by a small amount and I am happy with it. This makes the next step that much easier.

Now don’t freak out, I’ve zoomed in on my image using the zoom tool and it looks a little bit pixellated, that’s fine, it’s one of the drawbacks from using an image from the internet, they are often quite small and low resolution but it’s fine for what we want to do.

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Now we are going to use the Magic Wand tool to quickly select the white and then delete it.

Select the Magic Wand (or press ‘W’ on your keyboard) and then click on a white part of your image that you want to remove (basically all the central areas) then press delete.

You should reveal a grey and white chequered background, this is a good thing. Remember how I said our layer is kind of floating over nothing? Now we are looking through the image at that nothing. You can select multiple areas to delete using the Magic Want tool and holding the shift key on your keyboard. Keep selecting and deleting areas until you have them all.

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If you find an area doesn’t select very well or the magic wand tool selects too much you can manually select these areas using the Polygon Lasso tool.

Select the Polygon Lasso tool and zoom in to the troubling area.

Click around the areas you want to remove to create an enclosed selection (the marching ants) then press delete.

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We’re moving on to the fabric image next so you can just move your image off to one side by clicking on it’s title bar and dragging it over or just minimise it for now.

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Right, now let’s sort out our fabric

Open you fabric photo image

Select File > Open and browse to your image, open it

Now you might not be happy with the colour or contrast of your fabric image, we can fix this up using the following tools.

Select Image > Adjust > Color Balance and adjust the sliders to correct any colour discrepancies.

Again, subtle is best and the general rule is that if you image looks a bit magenta, drag the Magenta/Green slider away from magenta. If it looks a little yellow, drag the Yellow/Blue slider away from yellow etc…When you are happy, click OK

Select Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast and adjust the sliders to improve your images brightness and contrast, click OK when you are happy with the result

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I took a pretty big photo of my fabric and only the middle part is really any good so I’m going to crop out the rest (including my toes, hehe)

Select the crop tool (or press ‘C’ on your keyboard) then click and drag across your image to enclose only what you want left behind.

The parts of the image that will be cropped out are shown dark grey. You can move the selection box around with your mouse or adjust the handles to fine tune the selection or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it around by a small amount. When you are happy with your selection press enter on your keyboard and your image is cropped.

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Now for a little bit of technical jiggery.

Our internet/scanned pattern image is probably not very big but, given today’s amazing cameras, our fabric photo to likely to be huge.

Because our next step will involve dragging our fabric image into our pattern image and if it is a lot bigger it’s just gong to be a huge pain to muck around with. So let’s check our image sizes.

Select the pattern image – un-minimise it or click the title bar to activate it

Select Image > Image Size

We’ll concentrate on the Document Size measurements and let’s look at the largest one, in this case it is the largest size is the height, my pattern image is about 7cm tall, click OK to close

Now lets check the fabric photo, select the photo image by clicking on the title bar to active it.

My fabric photo is a whopping 71cm tall! That’s pretty big, we need to adjust it to a bit closer to the pattern image size.

I’m going to change my height measurement to 10cm so that it is still a bit bigger than my pattern image but not so huge it is impossible to work with.

Notice that the image width altered automatically to keep the proportions correct.

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Ok, we’re nearly there, still with me? Good :)

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Now comes the proper exciting bit, we’re going to finally drag our fabric image into our pattern image and get the first glimpse of how it all looks, ohhh!

Select the Move tool Grab the fabric imager by clicking in the middle of it, hold on to it, now drag it across and into your pattern image and then let go.

Our fabric image automatically becomes the top layer but we want to put it below so move your mouse over to the Layers Window, grab the active layer (layer 1 – our fabric, you can see the little thumbnail) and drag it below the pattern layer (layer 0)

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So far so good, but our fabric is a little large don’t you think? The print is way out of scale when compared to the dress.

You probably need to move your fabric about a bit and maybe even change its size too.

Select Edit > Free Transform or press Ctrl + T on your keyboard

(You might have noticed I have a bit more grey space around my pattern image, you can do this too by dragging the edges of your drawing a bit bigger, it helps to see the transform selection handles.)

To change the size of you fabric image grab one of the corner handles on the transform box. As you drag it smaller (or bigger) hold down the shift key to keep the proportions correct. Let go when you are happy with the size. Clicking and dragging inside the transform box lets you move the fabric image around. If you want to change the orientation of your fabric image you can rotate it by hovering your mouse just outside one of the corner handles, a curved arrow shows up, grab and move your mouse to rotate it. Again you can hold down the shift key to snap to the angles. When you are happy with your transforming you can press enter on your keyboard.

Use the Move tool to further adjust the position of your fabric image and you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to fine tune it.

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You can see that I have positioned my fabric along the waist seam line, I think the fabric looks the correct proportion so I need more fabric to fill in the top part of the dress.

To do this I can just make a copy of the fabric layer and reposition it.

Take your mouse over to the Layers Window and left-click on your fabric’s layer, select Duplicate Layer, and click OK

Now you have a second fabric layer. If you like you can transform this layer (Ctrl + T or Edit > Free Transform) and rotate it to move the print about. Then use the Move tool and reposition it to fill the leftover space

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One you are happy with your final image the last thing we need to do is flatten the image so we can re-save it as a jpeg. Take your mouse over to the layers Window and click on the small circle with the arrow in the top right of the Window, select Flatten Image

Now save your image Select File > Save As

Chose where to save your file, give it a good name and select your File Type as JPEG, click Save

Aaaaand you’re done, good job! ;)

Ohh pretty, yes? Tragically I don’t think I’ll have enough fabric for this particular pattern (it needs 2.20 meters and I only bought 1.50, what was I thinking?) but it was fun anyway. I’ll have to have a closer look at the layout, I’m going to guess that the piping is cut on the bias and therefore takes up a large amount of fabric so maybe if I make the piping in a contrast fabric I can get the pieces out of my 1.50…

This is my first really technical software post so if you have any feedback, questions or get stuck on a step please contact me through the comments on this post and I will do my best to help you out and improve any steps as needed.

I’d love to see your images so please feel free to share them with me.

Bear with me while I make up the Gimp post in the next day or two. I’m new to the Gimp program but I’ll do my best to replicate this tutorial so that those of you who cannot get a hold of Photoshop can still play along and maybe I’ll even choose a different pattern and new fabric from my stash to keep it interesting ;)

IMPORTANT: This work is my creation and my intellectual property, protected under a Creative Commons license. You may not use it for any commercial purposes, claim it as your own, or resell it.

Creative Commons License
The Curious Kiwi Tutorial: Visualising Fabric on Patterns – Part One (Photoshop) by thecuriouskiwi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.