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How to choose the right fabric for Printing

block printing fabric for printing printed canvas printed cotton screen printing stencil printing sublimation printing vinyl transfer printing

Printing on textile blanks is a hot new trends and one that leads to many questions.  How to choose the right fabric for printing is probably the most asked question?  It might seem a bit complicated, but there are a few simple things you need to know to make the right decision.

can you print on burlap

Screen Printing - when choosing a fabric for screen printing, the options are pretty wide open.  You can screen print on just about any fabric or surface, the key is will it go through the heat tunnel to set the ink.  So avoid plastic, synthetic materials or those that will in essence melt.  100% cotton, burlap, denim, sheeting, t-shirt fabric, wool, linen, sweatshirts are all great choices.  Avoid surfaces with too much texture such as blankets, terrycloth, sweaters and other dimensional fabrics.  There are no real rules, just trial and error.  The open weave of burlap may be an issue with smaller art, words and fine details.

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Direct to Garment Printing - this machine has a few more guidelines to follow, but you still have a lot of flexibility in the fabrics you choose.  100% cotton fabric is great, poly/cotton blends and other smooth fabrics are ideal.  You will want to avoid fabrics that "shed" like burlap and even some canvas fabrics or make sure you have a way to keep the machine clean along the way and avoid too much dust.

what is the best direct to garment textile and fabric

Vinyl Transfer Printing/Heat Transfer/Thermal Transfer - this is a great way to really allow the flexibility in your design and is also pretty flexible with the surfaces you can use.  Again 100% cotton canvas and cotton fabrics are great, burlap, denim, poly/cotton, duck and many more, heat is also used to set the transfers, so you will want to test the temperature with any plastic or fabric that could melt.  

best way to print on burlap vinyl transfer

Sublimation Printing - this fabric print option created amazing print in full color and black in, but the biggest obstacle is this printing type works best with polyester and high polyester content fabrics.  natural fabrics are definitely more suitable to home decor blanks than polyester, but when you try and print on cotton the colors fade and do not look great.  If you are going for a vintage, old-world look using cotton blends or 100% cotton might be the perfect choice.  Finding a source for polyester pillows, banners and other blanks can be challenging, poly/cotton fabric content is the best choice or 100% polyester.  

Roller Printing - this hand-painting method can create amazing printed fabric designs.  Choosing the right paint is the key to this process.  A fabric print or adding a fabric medium making it ideal for natural fabrics, but you can also choose acrylic paints and washable paints if you are making home decor pieces that may require washings.  This option is ideal for flat home decor pieces such as table runners, placemats, napkins and pillows with zippers to have the best flat surface to reach edge to edge.

Stencil Printing - like roller printing, the choice of paint is key.  With a stencil you want to make sure the paint is not too watery so that the print is clean.  Printing on natural fabrics, polyester and a wide range of different textiles.  If you are stenciling small and detailed art, burlap may not be your best choice as the open weave may not show the detail.

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Block Printing - you can make your own block art or buy a wide range of blocks or stamps.  Choosing the right paint again makes a difference, but natural cotton, duck, denim and even burlap is great.

Tie Dye and Fabric Dying - these tend to work best with 100% cotton.  If you are really looking for the right fabric, make sure to ask for 100% cotton thread for sewn items.  Most thread is poly/cotton and it is stronger and holds up well, but when dying fabric, the polyester does not dye well so your thread might remain the original color.  You can use a fabric dye or try Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist to transform fabrics to amazing color.  Slip in a mask or stencil and wow see what you get. 

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Painting - simple painting is a great way to print or design on fabric and looks great when you can make it your own.  Like all other processes that use paint, the same idea of using a fabric or washable paint is best.

 embroidery and sewing machine art on pillows and blanks

Embroidery is not technically a printed option for fabric, but a great way to add design to fabric.  When adding design this way you may need to make sure the machine can work around the fabric, so choosing flat items or items with zippers is a great ideas.  

Most textile blanks are sized and flat making them ideal for printing.  Many home textile items are not designed to be washed like apparel, but still need to be able to be cleaned as needed.  There is no need to wash them before printing, but if you are looking for an old-world, vintage look wash and let the blanks wrinkle or iron them a bit before printing.  

There are a lot of blanks to choose from.  T-shirts and sweatshirts have been a staple for printers both commercial and home and the trend of custom printed tee shirts continues to grow, but an even faster trend is printing on other items that are ideal for home, gift, souvenirs, party planners, weddings, restaurants and more. 

custom zipper tote bag

If you are thinking about buying a printer or have one and thinking about what to print on here are some options you might want to consider.  Aprons for behind the counter, with local town art or for students to use; Pillows with great sayings, local art or outline art to paint; Tote Bags that are customized for the perfect purpose - flea market, shopping, retail packaging, gifts, lunch, etc. Zipper Totes are perfect for holding items or inexpensive bridal and friend gifts; Banners are perfect for the wall and sharing art that you might not want to wear but you want to share; Eyeglass cases customized are perfect if you sell glasses, sun glasses or readers; Plant Holders and Baskets can be personalized with your local zip code, town name or child/family name; Table Runners and Placemats can be personalized for weddings, special events and parties, add a corporate logo, the name of the bride and groom or share an inspirational message; Lunch Bags that can be used again and again are great when printed and personalized; Stretched Canvas/Burlap turn instantly into wall art when embellished with any of these printing options; Treat Bags and other small items that are inexpensive but amazing when personalized and a personal touch is added; Rugs are another great blank that are ideal with most of these printing options, they are pretty large, so block printing and roller printing might be great options.

So many great options that support your brand, your business, your style and your message.  You can print them yourself, work with a local printer or order them ready to go with Canvas Corp.  If there is a doubt on how the fabric will react with your printing and embellishments, call for a sample to see how it works.  Let us know if you have a sublimation printer and we can tell you about our poly/cotton blanks.  


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