The Making of a Shirt – Part 5 (Fabric)

Fabric is where the digital meets the real world. It’s also something I’m still learning about. My brother told me that he got his customized fabric from SpoonFlower. I later found that Zazzle also sold customized fabric.

I learned from my brother that you have to get samples of your patterns on the fabric. What you see on a computer screen isn’t exactly what you get on fabric.

Which Fabric – SpoonFlower
SpoonFlower has a very large variety of fabric. They understand that their variety can be intimidating, as well as costly to try out. So you can order a sample of unprinted swatches of all their materials for just $1.00, with free shipping. These are just small 1 inch by 2 inch swatches, but I highly recommend getting them.

I then ordered and evaluated 8×8 inch swatches of the following fabrics. Printed 8×8 inch swatches are $5 each.

  • Basic Cotton Ultra (Nice for Shirts)
  • Kona® Cotton Ultra (Nice for Shirts)
  • Satin (Too light for Shirts)
  • Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra (Very nice for Shirts, expensive)
  • Cotton Poplin Ultra (Not right for Shirts)

Which Fabric – Zazzle
Zazzle only has seven types of fabric, and I’m not positive that two of them are any different. They also don’t have any way of evaluating fabric other than ordering swatches of them. Their 9×9 inch swatches are $5 each, so it’s not too expensive to test all of their fabrics.

I ordered and evaluated 9×9 inch printed swatches of the following fabrics.

  • Custom Pima Cotton (Nice for Shirts)
  • Custom Combed Cotton (Nice for Shirts)
  • Custom Polyester Weave (Not right for Shirts, too stiff, too course)
  • Custom Polyester Poplin (Not right for Shirts, too stiff)

My swatches of Custom Pima Cotton and Custom Combed Cotton were the same fabric. They aren’t just similar, they were the same. They both were labeled “Custom Combed Cotton Pima”, and both felt the same.

My initial custom Casual Tux shirt had an issue with fading, so I wanted to test all of these fabrics. I took pictures of all the fabrics, washed them, dried them, then took pictures again.


Washing in cold water, Hang to dry. No significant change. I did this over and over. I won’t bore you with photos. Evidently this is the proper way to wash and dry these fabrics.

Washing in cold water, Dry in dryer on medium heat. Fading and changes. Just once brought the first changes in the fabrics. Actually, the changes were in the non-polyester fabrics.


Both SpoonFlower and Zazzle have decent customizable fabric. SpoonFlower has a bigger selection. All their fabrics hold up well with cold water washing. But do not dry the non-polyester fabrics in a dryer. You should either no-heat tumble, or hang dry the fabrics, or fading will occur. Next post will be on my first attempt at putting it all together and creating a shirt.

Part 1
Part 2 – Flowers
Part 3 – Leafs
Part 4 – Patterns
Part 5 – Fabric

The Making of a Shirt – Part 4 (Patterns)

With all my flowers and leaves done, it was time to put it all together into a pattern. I wanted to combine the styles of two Hawaiian shirts that I had. The first has a wide stripe of white and grey flowers around the body, the other has a medium sized picture on the back.

Tiling Tool – Inkscape
Before I could make any pattern, I had to determine which tool to use to make wrap around tiles. These are pattern tiles where the pattern wraps from one side to the other. This allows you to make patterns where you cannot tell where the edge is. When I started working with different tiling tools, I had no idea that Inkscape could do wrap around tiling. But in my searches, I found this you-tube video that showed me how to do it. If you are interested in doing this, make sure you have the latest Inkscape. Older versions might have almost the same menu options, but they don’t really work.

Tileable Patterns in Inkscape

Core Pattern
I won’t bore you with all the details. But following the instructions from the video I made my core pattern. This is the pattern that the rest of the shirt developed from.

Core Pattern on Casual Tux
Casual Tux was going to be the picture on the back of my shirt. But I wanted him wearing my ultimate shirt. As you can see, I replaced his original flowers with my core pattern. Using the Inkscape clip function made this very easy. I took my core pattern, layed a piece of Tux’s shirt over it, selected the pattern first, then the shirt piece (so they both are selected). Then in the menu select Object -> Clip -> Set, and you are left with your core pattern, in the shape of the shirt piece.

Core Pattern on Casual Tux on Core Pattern
Yep, I went there. This final step, for the back of the shirt, ended up being the easiest step of all. I simply put Casual Tux where I wanted him, and removed the flowers from behind him. Easy as could be.

Patterns for Fabric
Those of you who have created shirts before have possibly seen the fatal flaw in my pattern. My pattern is square and setup to be tiled. If I want just one stripe across this shirt, with just one Tux on the back, I have to either make my white stripe huge, or add more to my pattern. And so I added more to my pattern. I used the same technique as before to make the wrap around tiles, but this time, I made the height double the width. I was really pleased with the final result.

Inkscape is the greatest tool I can think of. With the ability to make wrap around tiles, as well as clip vector graphics, I was able to create the patterns that I needed. I’m all set to create the fabric for my shirt. More on the fabric in my next post.

Part 1
Part 2 – Flowers
Part 3 – Leafs
Part 4 – Patterns
Part 5 – Fabric

The Making of a Shirt – Part 3 (Leafs)

Although Hibiscus flowers look good, they don’t look right without some types of leaves. I did alot of investigation into real Hibiscus leaves, as well as what people use in their pictures. I knew I needed at least three different leaves, but I found I could vary those leaves in more ways than I could the flowers.

My first leave was possibly the hardest. I wanted the leaf to look alot like a real Hibiscus leaf, with lots of ridges on the edges. Those ridges weren’t the hard part. Figuring out how to add leaf veins took me a long time. Eventually I discovered how to make the veins as one long line, and that’s what I ended up with. I rather like it. This is one long line. If you look at the SVG code, it’s just one, very long, line describing the leaf.


My second leaf stems from trials on what to put in the middle of the leaf. I thought of putting a leaf in a leaf, which didn’t really look good. But when I took all the ridges out of the middle leaf, it looked pretty good. I also did the opposite of what I did with the flowers. I started with leaf1, and all it’s outer ridges, and took many of them out and made the few that were left more pronounced. And thus leaf2 was created.


My idea for leaf3 came from a picture of a real Hibiscus flower, and it’s leaves. One of it’s leaves could only be seen from the side, and it looked pretty good. Once I say that, it’s not hard to see what I did. I took my first leave, cut it in half, then imagines what it would look like if half the leaf were pointing directly at me, and the other half was obscured by the first. I found that it gives a very nice variety to my leaves.


I found that I could do alot more variations with these three formats of leaves than I could with my flowers. They ended up bringing alot of variation and pop to the pattern I was developing. More on the pattern in my next post.

Part 1
Part 2 – Flowers
Part 3 – Leafs
Part 4 – Patterns
Part 5 – Fabric

The Making of a Shirt – Part 2 (Flowers)


Although I love Casual Tux, his flowers are rather simplistic and not Hawaiian. After looking at many Hawaiian shirts I settled on the Hibiscus flower. It was the most common, and looked like I could draw it if I just went one step at a time. I also determined that I needed three different flowers for variety. My final criteria was that it had to be in svg (vector) format. This allows me to scale them to whatever size I need.

A Hibiscus has five petals, with ridges along the outer edge, and usually a different color in the middle, and a stem coming out of the middle. Most prints ignore the central color, and just have parts taken out of the petal. I like the look of this and decided to go with that. I’ll skip the details, which involved alot of testing different ways to create a petal shape and just go with the first petal.

The stem I ended up with isn’t what I originally had through most of my work. I originally had the plain stem, and then triangles at the end for the anthers. It looked ok, but just didn’t fit with the rest of the flower. I eventually created what you see now, which has three management points for each anther. It’s harder than the triangles, but looks much better and fits with the rest of the flower style.

Putting the flower together sounds easy, just copy five petals and add a stem, but it isn’t. Hibiscus petals do not all look the same, so each one had to be customized. Then the stem, and the petals around it, had to be tweeked so that the stem bent through the gap between two petals. But the final product looked very good.

My second flower started out just being a copy of the first with a few variations, but then I decided it needed more ridges in the petals. So each petal got three more ridges. But with more ridges, the petals needed to be fatter to show off those fancy ridges. More tweaking with the stem to fit in there, and this is what I got. This is my favorite of the three flowers.

Flower three has no stem. Looking at other examples I saw several examples of stemless Hibiscus, and they don’t look to bad, just as long as you have normal Hibiscus in the mix. Remove the stem, add even more ridges, make the center cutaways more pronounced, and I got my third flower.

With the ability to rotate, flip, grow and shrink, three different flowers is all you need to create a flower bouquet that your brain thinks is all different flowers. But something was missing. More on my next post.

Part 1
Part 2 – Flowers
Part 3 – Leafs
Part 4 – Patterns
Part 5 – Fabric

The Making of a Shirt – Part 1

I’ve decided it’s time to document my latest hobby. Making my ultimate shirt.

Casual Tux and Penguins

Many people might think this is my ultimate shirt. After all, it’s got Casual Tux on it, it’s purple, and to be honest, it looks awesome. But it is only my phase one shirt. My brother, who ran Kokopelli Shirts, made this for me. His friend created the design, my brother bought the fabric, his seamstress sewed the shirt. Vola’, an awesome shirt.

Shirt and Tie Even looks good with a tie.

But I have a picture in my head of my ultimate shirt. The front will be a nice Hawaiian shirt, and the back will have a large Casual Tux sitting in the middle.

These series of blogs will step you through my process of creating that shirt. It’s still not finished, so at some point we’ll go on the journey together.

Part 2 – Flowers
Part 3 – Leafs
Part 4 – Patterns
Part 5 – Fabric

Yor Linux – Shutting Down

I’m going to mothball Yor Linux.  I’ve backed up everything.  At the beginning of May I’m going to start cleaning up the repo’s and websites.

There are three main reasons that I’m doing this.

1 – I’ve proved to myself (and hopefully others) that a single person can still create their own RHEL Clone.  I’ve had a blast.  It was fun figuring out everything from infrastructure to building problem packages.  I feel that I’ve met all my goals that I set for myself.

2 – I looked at my user and website stats.  To say they were low would be exaggerating.  I believe I had one other user, and I’ve already talked to him.  My Hawaiian shirt reviews on my blog get about 1000% more visits than then entire site.

3 – Bad hackers. has somehow gotten into some hacking database and gets hundreds (sometimes thousands) of hack attempts every day.  It’s really juts a matter of time before something happens like what happened to Mint.  I need to either constantly keep up the security fight, or bring everything down.  I can’t just leave my stuff up for others.

I want to thank everyone for their encouraging words as I’ve worked on Yor Linux over the years.  Like I said, I had a blast.  It was fun.  But it’s time to say good bye for now.

This is a repost from the Yor Linux blog.

Goodwill – Bright Yellow Flowers

Bright YellowThis review is of one of my all time favorite shirts. I got it in 1989 at a goodwill shop for $0.25, because it was still in the box it was dropped off in. I’ve worn it so much that the labels have worn away, and I’ve had to stitch it back together several times.

Goodwill – Bright Yellow Flowers – Priceless (on sale for $0.25)

This shirt is clearly from the 1970’s. Not only is the bright yellow flowers straight from the 70’s, but it originally had very large collars. It is made from polyester and doesn’t breath very well. But that same polyester is one of the reasons that it has kept it’s crazy brightness and still looks so well.

Authentic: 4 Flowers – It clearly honors the tropical theme. The buttons are also very unique. The buttons are made to look like brass with some tribal markings on them. The only thing not authentic is the pocket.

Bright Yellow Pocket Bright Yellow Button

Fabric: 2 Flowers – The fabric is 100% polyester. It doesn’t breath and is quite lite and flimsy. Because it is so flimsy it’s been fairly hard to make it keep it’s shape over the years. But, that also means that it is able to keep it’s bright pattern. I’m being kind and giving it 2 stars.

Bright Yellow Fabric

Style: 5 Flowers – Definitely 5 flowers. This is the shirt I judge all other shirts by, at least for style.

Bright Yellow

Final Score: 11 Flowers – They don’t make shirts like this anymore. On the one hand, thank goodness they don’t, because the polyester doesn’t breath well, it doesn’t keep it’s shape, and once a thread gets broken for whatever reason, the whole stitched area falls apart. But on the other hand, I wish they would, because the pattern and brightness are something I really miss.

Yor Linux

I must apologize for the delays in my Hawaiian shirt reviews.  I’ve been working on a project called Yor Linux that has been taking more time than I anticipated.

Yor Linux is another Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) recompiled distribution.  That means that I take the source code from Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and recompile it.  I can then use the resulting binaries any way that I want to. It’s the same thing I was doing (with others) to create Scientific Linux.

Why am I doing it.  For several reasons, but the biggest is that I really enjoy doing it.  It’s fun for me.  I’m also doing things a bit different, because it’s mine and I can.  One thing that will be different with be the 64 bit build (x86_64).  RHEL has always have a combination of 64 and 32 bit binaries in the same distribution, but only a select few 32 bit binaries.  Mine will be just 64 bit by itself, and 32 bit by itself.  If you want 32 bit binaries in your 64 bit installation, you will be able to set that up, but you will get all of the 32 bit binaries, not just a handful.

Anyway, I’m finding Yor Linux taking more of my time than I expected, and my hawaiian shirt reviews were one of the things suffering because of it.

Kokopelli Shirts – Roadrunner Shirt

Green Road Runner ShirtThis review is one of my all time favorite Hawaiian Shirt.  OK, so in reality it is an Arizona Shirt.  But saying it’s an Arizona Shirt hasn’t quite caught on yet.  But I’m sure it will soon.

Kokopelli Shirts – Cotton RoadRunner Shirt – Sold by Kokopelli Shirts – $99 (bought on sale for $69)

Most people who know my taste would be surprised that I love a shirt with no flowers on it.  The combination of the road runner, cactus, along with the dancing kokopelli figure leads to a very subtle, but unique shirt.  I also love the feel of the fabric and the rounded wooden/coconut buttons.

Authentic: 4 Flowers – Great Buttons. Pocket Matches. But I can’t give it 5 flowers, because it’s an Arizona Shirt, not a Hawaiin shirt.

RoadRunner Pockets RoadRunner Buttons

Fabric: 5 Flowers – 100% cotton fabric. This fabric was designed to be worn in Arizona, so it breathes very well. It manages to keep you cool, despite it being a very solid fabric. It has a very high quality feel that was made to last you for years.

RoadRunner Fabric RoadRunner Cotton

Style: 4 Flowers – Not a flowery shirt, and yet very appealing. Kokopelli shirts has managed to pull together the elements of the desert into a very good looking shirt.

RoadRunner Shirt RoadRunner Kokopelli

Final Score: 13 Flowers – A great looking shirt, great fabric, and very nice style. One of my “I love to wear this shirt” shirts. The only reason I’m giving it 13 instead of 15 flowers is because I’m doing Hawaiian shirt reviews. If this was about Arizona shirts, I’ve give it a solid 15 cactus’s.

Havana Jack’s Cafe – Silk Hawaiian Shirt

ShirtOne of the problems with buying Hawaiian shirts in department stores, is that the brand and style might not be there after a season. Such is the case with the first shirt I’d like to review.

Havana Jack’s Cafe – Silk Hawaiian Shirt – Sold by Kohls – $50 – No longer available

This was one of my favorite shirts, while it lasted. I loved the colors. The red contrasted with the black background, yet had the brown leaves so that it wasn’t too overbearing. The feel of the silk was very nice. The fabric was textured, so that it wasn’t the super slick silk feeling.

But that textured silk fabric was it’s undoing. The fabric wasn’t very strong. Although it said machine washable, it couldn’t hold up to more than a few washing’s, even on delicate. I liked it so much I’d wear black t-shirts underneath so you couldn’t tell too much that it was ripped. Eventually I had to retire it before it became a pile of silk thread.

Authentic: 2 Flowers – Although it has a hawaiian floral print, and the buttons look authentic, the pocket does not match, and the buttons are just plastic with a pattern.
pocketbutton and fabric

Fabric: 2 Flowers – The fabric feels great. But it shreds easily.

coller shreddingsides shredding
Style: 4 Flowers – I love the whole style.  Not my very favorite style, but close.

Black with Red Flowers

Final Score: 8 Flowers – A very nice looking shirt.  Not really authentic, and the fabric makes this something you wear to just one nice event.  Not something for everyday wear.