Acorn Trail: Annotations on Quality Issues

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm a huge fan of Teagan White. She is without a doubt, my favorite illustrator! When she released her first fabric collection, Fort Firefly for Birch Fabrics, I hadn't even begun quilting. Fort Firefly was actually one of the fabric lines that inspired me to start sewing again, and I used it in my first two quilts. So when her second collection, Acorn Trail, was announced, I knew I had to have it!

Today, after months of anticipation, I received my fat quarter bundle of Acorn Trail. I eagerly tore open the package...and my heart dropped. Two of the prints I was looking forward to most, Laundry Day and Acorn Trail Map, have some major printing issues. Overall, they are a far cry from the artwork Birch advertised on their site.

First, I just want to point out that this is most likely no fault of Teagan's. She provides the artwork to Birch, and it is their job to get the product made in conjunction with their manufacturer. If you want to get a better idea of what the manufacturing process is like for quilting cotton fabrics, I highly suggest watching Cotton + Steel's amazing videos on the subject. (There are going to be some differences in the process between manufacturers, but the general idea is the same.)

I wanted to annotate the issues I found with these two particular prints for a simple reason: I do not feel they are acceptable quality. Acorn Trail is an organic fabric line that sells for about $16 per yard. It's pricey stuff, and I would expect to receive a high quality fabric for that money. I would want anyone who plans to order these two prints to be aware of the quality issues I found.

Let's start with Laundry Day, the print I was most excited for. Right off the bat, I noticed that the background color is nothing like the original artwork. It barely differs from the unprinted selvedges. It's not the custard yellow the artwork shows. Not even close. As a result, any white areas have almost no contrast with the background. The bunnies are virtually invisible. Penny's skin and the towel she holds disappear into the background. It's not good.

Some colors were completely dropped from the palette all together. Poor Penny gets the worst of it all. Her cute rosey cheeks look more like dried blood against her barely-there white skin. In the original artwork, her skin has its own distinct color. The fabric uses no such color. Her cheeks should be the same color as her sweater, but instead, they match her shirt colar, barely contrasting with the shading in her hair.

The raccoon is another example of dropped colors. In the OA, his body is a light tan, but the final product uses the same golden tan of the deer and Penny's hair. Strangely, the selvedges do not have the color palette printed on them The palette didn't seem like it was particularly large, so I'm not sure why they would have dropped colors. It certainly doesn't look better.

Acorn Trail Map has a good number of issues too. First, the colors are strikingly different from the OA. Granted, it's hard to determine color from your average computer screen. Even so, the color shift here is just too hard to swallow. What was a ruddy orange is now a deep, dark rust. The cream, is a stark knock-out (the color of the undyed fabric), and the saturation has been pumped way up.

I could live with the color, but the print quality here is just awful. Penny's face is totally butchered. Everything looks sloppy! I can't say much about's just one of the worst print jobs I've ever seen.

I think the biggest flaw in this print is the terrible knocked-out areas. If you are unfamiliar with the term, this image provides a quick, simple visual explanation. The white areas were poorly knocked out of their screens, especially the aqua. That deer is SUPPOSED to have antlers, but you can barely make them out because the aqua ink has eaten into the knocked out area. 

Overall, these prints were a HUGE disappointment. I hope Birch will address these obvious quality issues and do something about it. Otherwise, I doubt I'll be buying their fabric again, which is a shame.


  1. The drawings are amazing but the fabric... what a pity. I hope you receive apologies.

    1. It's Teagan they need to apologize to! Her artwork is amazing and these prints just don't do her justice. :(

  2. I do appreciate your attention to detail! What a shame for this great artist. I saw on another blog they were giving away some of this same fabric. I liked it, but the poor quality was not obvious. It sure is now!