Rifferaffe posted a couple days ago about Galbraith and Paul, Philadelphia designers who block-print fabric yardage. She asks in her post why there are so few people block printing yardage, and I agree that it's a good question. I suggested in her comments that perhaps it's due to the ubiquity of screen printing—every art student and his brother seems to be selling printed t-shirts. At any rate, when it comes to printed yardage, commercially printed or hand-dyed fabric seem to be the only real choices available to quilters. It seems like we should have more independently printed options, particularly considering the pro-pattern trend that's been in the air for a while.
There are in fact several people I've been noticing recently who sell short-run screen-printed fabric, including the Australian trio of Lara Cameron, Shannon Lamden, and Kristen Doran. Come to think of it, I don't know of any independent designers selling printed yardage who aren't Australian. Why is that? Add Prints Charming (designers of the widely admired Follow Your Imagination line for FreeSpirit, as well as hand-screened fabric) to the mix, and it starts to look like Australia is leading the charge of a certain type of modern textile design. I used some Follow Your Imagination prints in Spots, and I'm keeping my eye on the independent designers—they come out with new colourways all the time.
But back to block printing. I've been thinking about block printing small amounts of yardage myself for a while now—these notebooks were test runs for some "Feeding Frenzy" pigeon fabric I'd like to print. Block printing each pigeon individually (as opposed to all together on a block or screen laid out ahead of time) gave me a lot more control to vary the design rather than make strict repeats, though it's obviously pretty labour-intensive. I liked how the bookcovers turned out, but the chocolate brown cover looks better in the photo (the ink isn't opaque enough for the dark fabric), so I planned to get more appropriate ink before starting on more fabric. And now, of course, the whole op has been postponed until after The Move.
Naturally I'd love to use fabric like this in quilting, but I'll have to run some tests to see if the sewing machine cooperates. The ink isn't too heavy, so hopefully it won't gum up the needle.