I was intrigued when Spoonflower announced its new venture, Sprout Patterns, combining its print-on-demand fabric with patterns from indie companies. When Sprout launched with a limited range of designers and patterns I had a bit of a play around with the site but didn’t order anything. But when I learned a couple of months later they had added kids’ clothing designers Brindille & Twig to their range I was back like a shot. I’m a big fan of the company’s modern, funky designs and the fact much of their range is great for boys or girls.
Since Sprout is relatively new, I’ve seen little around the web about how it works (apart from one post on Brindille & Twig’s blog, which was super helpful when I had a crisis of confidence and couldn’t remember whether the pattern included seam allowances or not). I can see both pros and cons in its service, which definitely affected what I decided to order, but overall I think it’s an interesting idea and good luck to them.
The main reason why I didn’t order anything when it first launched was because of the way the sizing is done. You have to choose a single size for the garment you’re ordering and the pattern pieces are printed on the fabric with about 1.5cm white space around them (as seen above) so you can see where to cut out. Inside the white space the pattern piece is defined by a solid black line, which is where you cut along, and the seam allowance is included in the printed part. While all this saves you a lot of time in tracing and cutting patterns (and printing and taping if you’ve gone the PDF route) — definitely an attractive prospect — it does mean that if you fit across two sizes, as many people do, you can’t really grade between them. I imagine it would also be much harder to make alterations — you definitely couldn’t do an FBA, for instance.
However, since the initial launch, Sprout has added a bunch of patterns where sizing is less of an issue: children’s clothes, at this stage by Brindille & Twig and See Kate Sew, as well as several bags and a hat. I haven’t sewn much for Theo largely because it seems so time-consuming fussing around with patterns to make something he might wear a few times before growing out of. Obviously, the service Sprout offers does away with a whole lot of those concerns.
I ordered the baby harem romper in sizes 0-3 months (the cockatoos) and 3-6 months (the pandas) sometime around Black Friday/Cyber Monday when they were offering a discount plus free shipping (shipping to Australia being the killer for most overseas fabric orders).
It’s possible to become paralysed by choice with the entire Spoonflower library of fabrics available to customise your patterns but I knew immediately I wanted to have Elvelyckan Design animals. The fabric search function on the Sprout website was a bit clunky to use. I’d suggest browsing via Spoonflower’s website first, noting down the keywords or name of the print or designer you want and using that to search on the Sprout site. They also now have fabric suggestions from the pattern designer and you can browse combinations ordered by other customers.
After you’ve ordered, the instructions for the pattern and the entire PDF pattern (yay!) are loaded into your account on the Sprout website, where you can download them. This part wasn’t entirely clear to me and I spent a long time waiting for an email with the files to turn up. There is no email. It’s on the site.
You will definitely want to wash your fabric as soon as it turns up because it smells quite chemical, I’m guessing from the printing process. Ahem, I mean I always wash my fabric acquisitions immediately…
As far as sewing this pattern, it was very easy. I did the whole thing on the overlocker and it took about an hour from cutting to completion, including inserting the snaps. I really like how this romper looks and it’s nice and roomy around the bottom (important for fitting over bulky cloth nappies). I’m yet to sew the larger size but I think I will use ribbing for the cuffs instead of the supplied pieces. The organic cotton knit feels like good quality but it is quite thick and not hugely stretchy when doubled over.
One final thing to note that may annoy some people is that you have no control over pattern matching. For a print like this I wasn’t concerned but you can see by the layout of the pattern pieces on the fabric that if I’d gone with plaid or stripes they wouldn’t have matched up at all because the top of the front and back pieces are lined up, not the side seams. Hopefully the Sprout team has thought about this for the adult garments (or will think about it in future).
Lastly: while we were doing Baby’s First Blog Photo Shoot (modern milestones!) I also popped Theo in this lovely gown his grandmother sewed when she was in school. Maybe not the most practical of garments, but I particularly love the stitching on the ruched front (EDIT: I’m told it’s actually called smocking).