Expect the unexpected.
After more than three decades of crazy twists and turns in life, I should know this.
I should have it down.
The unexpected should be the norm. Really.
And yet, I am still surprised when amazing things happen out of the blue.
One of those amazing, wonderful things happened this week…
I made it into the top 25 in a Spoonflower challenge!
Last week’s competition involved using a limited color palette to design a repeat pattern. As you can imagine, literally hundreds of designers entered the fray since the pattern’s subject could truly be anything. No matter the style, as long as the designer stuck to the palette, she or he could enter.
A whopping 576 designers entered this challenge…
And I made 25th place!
You might be wondering why in the WORLD I am so excited about #25. I’m so glad you asked…!
First, placing 25 out of 576 means I’m in the top 4%. That’s UHmazing.
Second, Spoonflower arranges the top 25 in a winner’s collection that is marketed to their customers. See it here.
Third, I’m after Progress, not Perfection. I will not win every challenge. I may never win #1. And, I am okay with that.
So, now that I’ve finished my happy dance, let’s take a look at the winning design.
Starry Night in the City: Sketch Phase
Before I show you my design process, let’s chat a bit about the color palette for this design. Here’s a description of the colors from the official challenge page:
Your only limit this week is to use at least 2 of the following colors: Navy (#031838), Light Orchid (#D3A0CC) and Burgundy (#81001E) and black/white are optional. Color variations will not be accepted.
Even though black and white were allowed, no tints (white + color) or shades (black + color) were permitted.
Honestly, these colors did NOT speak to me immediately. I pondered ideas that could come from the colors themselves, and the only thing that hit me was the phrase “purple mountain majesties” from “America the Beautiful.”
Okay, mountains it is! I thought. I love mountains. How hard could drawing mountains be?
But, mountains refused to flow from my pen.
Instead, funky houses found their way onto the page.
The scan above is unedited except for black and white levels – as you can see, my brain and drawing hand leans to the left. My lines aren’t straight, and some elements look downright awful. Just thought I’d keep it real for y’all.
But, overall, this city feels funky – and FUN. I want to visit and walk those streets. You, too?
While drawing these homes, I had the idea to create a night scene using the navy blue as a background and white as an accent color.
So, I drew textures – and the moon! The moon in this neighborhood winks, smiles, and sleeps along with the residents.
Starry Night in the City: Welcome Home
After scanning my hand-drawn elements into the computer, I tweaked the lines of the houses to minimize that Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa effect. I recolored the neighborhood using the orchid color on a navy background and made the stars + moon white.
But, what to do with the burgandy…?
I’ve always loved unique front doors (see one of my favorites from a trip to Croatia here), so not only did I draw them all differently, I decided all the doors should be red. Er, burgandy #81001E according to the rules..
Making all the doors distinct yet cohesive in color added unity and contrast to the overall design.
After WAY too much tweaking (dang perfectionist self), I arrived here.
Going with a navy background and focusing on the basic silhouette form of the houses meant I didn’t need to add to much detail, and I could just let the design breathe.
I only faced uncertainty in one area of the composition – the stars. I debated endlessly (and still do – so please weigh in!) whether to add a multitude of stars or only a few. When I reduced the number of stars to a minimum, the sky seemed empty. But I also didn’t want to overwhelm and clutter the sky.
I’ll let you decide – what do you think of the stars?
Other Neighborhoods: Alternate Colorways
As a Spoonflower designer, I must proof each design I sell. That means I have personally held a printed version of each pattern you see in my shop. With Spoonflower, no proof means no sale.
Luckily, Spoonflower offers something called Fill-A-Yard (FAY) which just happens to be the most economical way for me to test my designs (it’s also a great way to make a cheater quilt!).
In just one FAY order, I can proof up to 42 designs. That’s a LOT of designs, my friends. Even if I could create one design a day (ha!), I would have to work M-F for two months to create 42 designs.
I want to let you in on a little irony here. I just ordered my second round of proofs before the contest ended.
And then I ended up in the top 25 – which means I don’t have to proof my design.
Expect the unexpected, right?
In this new round of proofs which is hopefully being shipped as I write, I added two alternative colorways.
For the first alternate, I reduced the design to black, white, and orange. I love the simplicity of black and white, and I think the purity of black and white with a pop of color (again, on the doors!) allows the hand drawn nature of this design to shine.
I also removed the moon + stars to appeal to those who didn’t like the evening scene and to create a coordinating day time design to accompany the night.
And, because I feel there’s a shortage of decent prints for boys, I created a colorway that would be suitable for the young males out there who happen to have loving female relatives who sew.
Note: the background looks gray, but according to Spoonflower’s color map, it should print an inky dark black. As soon as I have proofs in hand, I’ll show you the difference between what a design looks like on screen vs. printed reality.
Starry Night in the City: Now Available!
As I mentioned above, because I placed in the top 25, my Starry Night in the City print is available for purchase NOW! You can see the different fabrics Spoonflower offers and visit my shop here.
Though I designed this print for a fabric competition, the possibilities for such an adorable design (if I do say so myself – I love it!) reach far beyond pillowcases and quilts.
How about home goods?
I can imagine eating dessert off these plates and drying dishes with that tea towel.
Chalkboard wall decor? This would make an adorable housewarming gift.
I can’t wait to see what all the talented makers in Spoonflower land use this pattern to create.
Thank YOU + One Tiny Favor
I want to extend a BIG thank you to everyone who voted for me in this challenge. I’m thankful for the time you took to scroll through all the options and vote.
I could not have won without YOU!
Real quick, would you do me a tiny favor? In the comments below, please let me know what you think of the amount of stars in the pattern – too many, too few, just right.
And, if you were to use this pattern in your home, what color scheme would you need/like?
Oh, and as a thank you gift to YOU, I’m creating a FREE coloring page with these adorable, quirky houses. Make sure to subscribe using the Hello bar or follow me on Facebook to be notified as soon as it’s ready!