Since I’ve mentioned several of my favorite time-sucks, notably YouTube and Pinterest, several times, I thought I branch into new territory and mention another one.

Hypothetical readers, meet Spoonflower.

Spoonflower is a local company based in Durham,NC that custom prints fabric, wallpaper, and vinyl wall decals. (I think they print gift wrap during the holidays as well, but I can’t remember.) Opening an account is free, you only pay when you order. Designers upload their designs and have the option of making them public so other people can buy them, if they do then the designer gets a small commission.

Or, if you’re lazy, you can upload public domain images to see what they’d look like.  These are tiny bat faces, I think it’s kind of awesome.

Spoonflower offers three sizes of fabric, an eight inch square, a fat quarter (18″X 21″) and the standard full yards, and many designers will size their creations to fit – anything from children’s clothing and toys to tote bags, purses, tea towels and napkins. As a couple of examples, this stuffed onigiri, calender tea towel, and adorable owl apron, made for a swatch, fat quarter, and yard respectfully.

Onigiri Toy

It’s happy to see you!

2013 Cat Tea Towel Calendar

Super cute. They have dozens of tea towel designs and will probably get more as the holiday season approaches.

Owl Be Darned! Apron Pattern

GhostSister would love this.

The fabric is pricey, five dollars for a swatch, but the more you get the better the price is. (A fat quarter of the basic cotton is $10.50 but a full yard is $17.50) Still, for an independent designer it’s probably cheaper to use Spoonflower than to have to order up a dozen bolts of the same pattern from some big company. And if you happen to be one of those matchy-matchy people who want their couch to match their wallpaper, then Spoonflower can help you with that as well.

In my opinion, the tea towels would make a perfect low-cost Christmas gift. One yard (four towels) on heavy-duty fabric is $27 plus three dollars shipping, that makes each towel $7.50. They require minimal sewing, just hemming or the addition of a little ribbon or bias tape around the edges, and could be paired with a few other items to make a unique gift basket. Good for a Secret Santa gift, if your coirkers do that sort of thing, teacher gift, or for that neighbor who watches the dog while you’re on vacation, and the recipient will be amazed when you tell them “I made this!”

If you do happen to be the crafty type, you can order swatches of your own fabrics very cheaply (5 for $12) so if you needed a bunch of labels with your name or washing instructions or what have you all you would need is a few minutes with a graphics program like GIMP to make a custom batch of tags.

And if you happen to have a TARDIS blue couch or chair, this would make a nice pillow.