Designing Fabric Prints with Photos – Part 2

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This part of the photo fabric series covers how to use Gimp to cut the background out of a photo so you can use elements from it in more interesting ways.

Supplies and Equipment:


GIMP softwarethis is free, open source software that is similar to photoshop
– a photo – the higher the resolution the better!
– a free account at Spoonflower or any other company that will print fabric on demand


I started with the same photo that I used in the previous part of this series.


Open your photo in gimp. Select>All, then Edit>Copy.


Go to File>New to make a new document.

Make a new layer, and select “transparent” when it asks about the background.

Paste your image onto that new layer.

What you just pasted is a “floating layer.” Anchor it into place so you can start manipulating it.

Choose the “lasso” tool from the toolbox.

Use it to select a bunch of what you’re removing, staying safely clear of the parts you want to keep.

Edit>Cut to remove that part of the image.

Repeat that until you’ve cleared out most of the unwanted image.

Select the pink “eraser” from the toolbox. Click on the picture by the word “Brush” and choose one with a fuzzy edge. I chose the largest fuzzy brush, but different image sizes work best with different brush sizes, so choose whatever feels comfortable to you.


Use a fuzzy brush instead of one with a sharp edge to prevent a superimposed look. The fuzzy brush will leave your edges just a little hazy. If you were cleaning up a photo with a clean geometric a sharp brush might be a better choice!

Zoom in on your image using the selector at the bottom of the window.

Start erasing out the areas you don’t want.
– work from the ‘safe’ areas toward what you want to keep
– work in short click/drags instead of long ones
– don’t hesitate to ‘undo’ anything you don’t like

After working up close and getting a feel for what I wanted to keep, I erased a line all the way around my “keeper” imagery, and then used the lasso to clean out the rest. This way I didn’t have to keep zooming in and out, I could just focus on the tiny details.

Keep erasing in, closer and closer, until you have clean edges everywhere. Use different sized brushes where helpful, especially in corners.

At this point there’s still a bit of dark edge toward to the top of my images.

Because I was planning a dark background that edge doesn’t matter.

But if I was planning a lighter background like this, I would keep erasing in closer until all those darker edges were gone.


At this point you can crop the image down in gimp and use it as a repeat in spoonflower. You could also use copy/paste and layers to mix it with other images.