Wonderful World of Digital Fibre Printing
Stephen Taylor (a Fredericton-based digital print designer. He can be reached at www.gicleeartprint.ca or www.taylormurray.ca)
wonderful occurred when technology made it possible for us to put images onto fibres and textile. People began incorporating
photographs in their quilts and garments. They printed photographs of family member, ancestors, even images of homesteads,
friends, marriage licenses and diplomas and it has not stopped there. Digital fabric printing is one of the newest creative
surface embellishments for quilted craft products such as pillows, wall hangings and clothing.
The commercial process
printing has had an impact in textile design in 2 major directions: (1) new use of colour in design and (2) a re-adjustment
of conventional printing processes. Historically, textile printing was executed by transferring media to fabrics by screens
and rollers. Each pattern element was engraved onto a screen or roller and assigned a specific colour. Block printing is an
even earlier example and one which greatly influenced later silkscreen printing. In block printing, the number of colours
in a given design determined the number of woodblocks that were carved. Each block created a flat silhouette of the shape.
A three dimensional effect of the motifs was obtained by printing several layers of flat separated shapes. So-called "traditional
floral design" printed by rotary screen printers today, still retains the same look as the historical block printed designs.
"Toile de Jouy design" originating from this
historical printing method, has set the standard for traditional textile design, and is still a popular style in the market
digital fabric printing has not only influenced visual styles, but also the concept and definition of printed textile design.
The development of digital fabric printing has become more universal in its application and function. Fashion or interior
designers can create their own printed fabrics. However, because of the creative freedom in which anything can be printable
and anyone can be a print designer, it is critical to consider the design quality and aesthetics.
big difference with digital printed textiles is that you can print exactly the size and colours you want. Large, cumbersome
silkscreens are no longer necessary. You can save your designs and print them for a personalized, custom look. You could,
for example, have made a pattern for a window treatment and used the same design for accessories, like a pillow. You can create
just one pillow if you like, and there is no wasted fabric.
traditional textile printing technology, the key to digital fabric printing is in its process colour application. Photographic
and tonal graphics created with millions of colours in Photoshop or similar software can be printed on fabric. Latest development
of inks, colour management software and substrates enable users to produce a wider colour gamut and finer printing quality.
For this reason, a new look of digitally printed fabrics is emerging in the high-end fashion design industry.
as silkscreen printing liberated artists and designers to experiment with multiple images on fabrics before being universally
accepted into major textile printing technology, digital textile printing is adding a new freedom in the design process with
The professional artist and the hobbyist
cameras and scanning offers even more possibilities for the professional artist and hobbyist. For example you have a photograph
of a dress and you have designed a new pattern. You can do a draping to display your patterns in a 3D picture or photograph
of a garment which means that the dress is shown now with your design. You can also print it out on paper to show your friends
or relatives. Computer and ink jet printers are allowing commercial and home users new ways to
discover the joys of sewing, quilting and customized design.
textiles have found their way into patchwork bed coverings and garments, where vibrant colours and intricate designs allow
quilters to enhance the expressive and decorative qualities of their work, as well as the textural richness. Home computers
enable personal photographs and artwork to be easily transferred by using an inkjet printer, but the missing element until
now has been high quality fabric that provides the right balance after printing of feel (referred to as ‘hand’),
print clarity, ease of use, washability, dye fastness and durability. Knowing these are primary concerns to artists and hobbyists
alike, industry responded by developing readily accessible high quality, commercially prepared fabrics for home use. Things
have changed since the early days of digital fabric printing- welcome to this exciting new digital world!
How do I....
Mend a split seam
Darn a sock
Sew on a flat button
Sew on a shank button