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The Colorful World of Hawthorne Threads' Digitally Printed Fabrics

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Since early this year, we've been having fun playing with several of the exclusive new fabric collections from Hawthorne Threads. Owners, Charlie and Lindsay Prezzano took the leap into the fabric design waters with both feet... that would be four feet with a running start. The motifs themselves have been lovely, and to top it off, they print their fabrics on-site using the latest digital technology. The process is very precise and the resulting cotton prints have sharp lines and vivid colors. And speaking of colors... today we're using the Hawthorne Threads online experience to show you a bit of what happens behind the scenes when we build a Sew4Home project. The Hawthorne Threads site navigation, and the way they've structured their integrated color palettes, is well-thought-out, user friendly, and built with creativity in mind. 

The Online Shopping Experience

We shop for and choose fabric online for most of our projects. What we look for in any website are the tools that can give us both selection and confidence. 

Here's our Top Five Checklist

  1. It's easy to search using various criteria, such as: manufacturer, collection, designer, and type of fabric or substrate.
  2. We can find coordinates both within and outside of a collection.
  3. Although there are obvious variables in monitors, we need to be able to trust the color consistency and accuracy of the online fabric swatches.
  4. There should be a measurement guide to gauge the size of the motif. When planning, you need to know if a flower is one inch or five inches.
  5. The size of the design's horizontal and vertical repeats should be indicated.

A Recent Case Study: Our Sofa Arm 5-Pocket Caddy

Everyone loves organizers, and this new caddy was an instant hit. It's made entirely from Hawthorne Threads' digitally printed fabric... but not from just one group – from three different collections. This could present matching mayhem, but it was smooth sailing.  

First, let's go to hawthornethreads.com.

From their home page, one of the first things you see is Lindsay’s Picks. We immediately spied something we liked for our caddy's feature print: Stitch Floral in Golden Canyon — a print from the Hawthorne Threads Coyote collection.

You can also hop over to the navigation on the right and choose Manufacturers and then Hawthorne Threads to see all of their exclusive in-house collections. 

Back on our Stitch Floral in Golden Canyon page, we were able to see details about the fabric, including the important motif and repeat measurements mentioned above in our Checklist.


From the selected fabric's page, you can then scroll down to see additional Coordinating Prints in the Coyote range.

Scroll a little further to find a large selection of Additional Coordinating Prints -- these are all the Hawthorne Threads designs available in the same Golden Canyon color.

Finally, the feature motif (Stitch Floral) is shown in its Alternate Colorways: Desert Rose, Pebble and Shell.

But wait... there's more color coordination! At the bottom of the page is: Find Coordinates by Colors in this Print. When you click on the color in which you're most interested (we clicked on the Golden Canyon color bar for our test), it will bring up a host of other options from within the Hawthorne Threads' collections as well as other manufacturers. You will see both prints and solids in that coordinating color, as well as even ribbon and thread.

We feel like we’re getting a fantastic array of viable options with just a couple of clicks. It was pretty intuitive and very cool. 

Another helpful way to navigate is through the cross-links. For example, when we went back up and clicked on one of the coordinating prints in Golden Canyon (we tried Candy Dot in Golden Canyon), we were then able to scroll down on that page and see all of the alternate colorways of Candy Dot, giving us several more options for prints that could work with our initial feature fabric pick.

A great experience from beginning to end

Searches are quick to segment. Browse just for Home Décor fabric, Pre-cuts, Patterns, Kits, and more.

There are several sections we look at regularly: New Arrivals, Coming Soon, and On Sale

Check out their helpful and detailed Color Grid, which you can use if you are searching for a particular color. Color means the world to us here at Sew4Home, so having a way to zero in on perfectly coordinated options makes design more flexible, and frankly... more fun.

You can purchase a sample set of any of the Hawthorne Threads' Digital Collections for a nominal charge. (A Coyote Sample Set is $4.95 for a 11.75” wide fabric stripe of the full range). Not only does this give you a look at all the designs, it's printed on the actual substrate fabric so you can test wash it and trying stitching on it. 

Sample Set from Hawthorne Threads Calliope Collection

Getting the fabric is easy. They have consistently fast turnaround on shipping. And on the digitally printed collections, because they can print your order on demand, there's a lot less waste. You want five yards of Fawn in Aspen? They'll make five yards just for you.

The fabric is truly superior in quality. It's a high thread-count cotton with a very tight weave and a lovely hand. With both the recent projects we did exclusively with Hawthorne Threads' fabrics (Designer Backpack and Sofa Caddy), our seamstress team loved working with it. Cutting, pressing, and matching was a breeze.

Sew4Home's Designer Backpack in Hawthorne Threads Marsala Collection

The online swatch colors were very accurate. Our main computer for designing has a retinal monitor, which gives us the best possible view, but even when checking on "lesser" monitors, the colors were clear and consistent.

The motifs were straight! This may sound like it should always be the case, but we’ve been surprised at how often fabric designs are not true along the vertical, horizontal or both. 

The fabrics we chose for our Sofa Caddy were from three different Hawthorne Threads collections and were a dead-on match. Again, this is not always the case - even when working with one designer or collection. For example, if you’ve ever really looked at one black fabric side-by-side with other blacks (same with whites), you’ll see multiple variations of even these basics; it just becomes more apparent when selecting other colors. The Golden Canyon color we chose was perfect across all three cuts.

The actual printing happens on a specially modified wide-format digital printer, similar to the kind that prints big banners and posters at your local print shop. The plain white fabric is fed through the printer while the print head moves back and forth, laying down the design. Check out the Hawthorne Threads Bengal Video for a look at digital fabric printing in action. For care instructions about pre-shrinking, needle type, laundering, and more, read all the digitally printed fabric FAQs here.

This digital printing process is also very eco-friendly. The water-based dyes Hawthorne Threads uses are free of harmful industrial solvents. The designs are made color-fast by a simple heat process instead of a chemical fixation.

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Comments (13)

Teresa Block said:
Teresa Block's picture

I've ordered from Hawthorne Threads for several years and have always been pleased with their service and prices. Good to hear how well their website colors show on monitors, something I never realized.  They definitely have an excellent website, probably the best of all the online quilt store sites I visit. I was especially delighted to hear about how well aligned the motifs are because wonky prints are on many (many!) other manufacturers' fabric lines and I find that very annoying!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Teresa - they are a great shop - if you haven't tried their in-house fabric yet - you should! It's lovely. 

Judith Clauss said:
Judith Clauss's picture

Loved this. Learned a lot about these digitally printed fabrics. They are gorgeous and they make it so easy to get coordinatimg fabrics.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Judith Clauss - It really is very high quality and beautiful to sew with. 

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

Fascinating. I guess that explains why you can buy a quarter of a yard. They don't have acres of warehouses. It makes me treasure the woven fabrics even more. Hawthorne Threads have a great newsletter.

Speaking of "behind the scenes", at our last guild meeting, there was a copy of Where Women Create, Aug/Sept 2012 featuring the Sew4Home studio. I love the retro ambience. My question for Liz is, do blondes have more fun?

Just wondering what will the future of fabric look like. I heard that Ikat will be extinct in 10 years as it is too labor intensive.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jane Coombs - It's staggering to even imagine what we'll be seeing 10 years from now! And yes, blondes have tons of fun. 

Kris Valle said:
Kris Valle's picture

Oh no! You've given away my newest secret! :) LOL I just discovered this website a few weeks ago and love it also. In fact I may have found it from Sew4Home. I also loved many of the things you mentioned, but I was not aware of the digital printing. Very cool! Thanks!!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kris Valle - secret's out! Make sure you check out the digital options. 

Sandy D said:
Sandy D's picture

I just purchased some digitally printed fabric, the colors,design and blending of colors is fantastic!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sandy D - isn't it wonderful?! It sews like dream too.

Cristina Nogueira said:
Cristina Nogueira 's picture

Amazing! One day will be printing fabrics from home

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Cristina Nogueira - wouldn't that be something?! But you're right, who would have thought we'd have all this technology at our fingertips. 

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