By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jul 14, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Creative crafters are taking over the world.

We've see the do-it-yourself movement take a stronghold in the States over the past five or so years, and in Milwaukee specifically, our very own "ambassador of handmade," as dubbed by the New York Times, Faythe Levine, organized the annual Art vs. Craft show and directed the now world-famous documentary, "Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design."

And if the popularity of emerging companies like Karma Kraft is any indication, determined DIYers are a growing global entity.

Karma Kraft is a new custom digital fabric printing service based out of Raleigh, N.C., but co-founder Scott Jeffreys says his team of CAD designers and printers are filling orders for customers as far away as Brazil, Australia and France.

Jeffreys, Susan Lu, both textile designers, launched the company this past spring as a resource for individuals and businesses - anyone with an idea and the desire to see it through - to create custom fabric to use for clothing, home décor, bedding and accessories.

Since the images are printed digitally, rather than screenprinted or via heat transfer, there are no minimum or maximum orders required. You can order 100 yards of fabric, or just one, and starting at $20 per yard, it's a good deal for one-of-a-kind textiles.

"The thing that we're happy about are the small businesses who maybe aren't able to go the traditional route, but still want to put out their own collection. They can order 50 yards and do it."

The best part is, you don't have to be a skilled designer to make it work; you upload your design via the Web site and the Karma Kraft team turns it into gorgeous, workable and professional-quality fabric.

"There are a few other digital printing companies around but they use textile pigments for their dyes and we use reactive and dispersed dyes. The difference is that we get a deeper, richer color and better colorfastness than with textile pigments."

We know what you're thinking. Why wouldn't everyone use these other dyes then? The answer is the five-step process it takes Karma Kraft to complete an order, compared to other companies' two.

"It takes a little bit longer because there's more handling and care for the fabric, but what we like to say is that we don't just print a fabric, we print it for life. This is the type of thing that can be washed and withstand use over time."

Karma Kraft works with a variety of base fabrics, from cotton, linen, silk, wool, polyester, ramie, hemp, rayon to suede, and takes special requests for additional fees.

Its cut and sew services offers to not only print your fabric, but take it a step further by making the pillow, scarf or tablecloth for you per your specifications.

Happy crafting!



Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”