Printing Watercolour onto Fabric

Ok, so I've felt called to write a post about Textile Design, and a few things that I believe you need to know if you are a beautiful brand wishing to print watercolour onto fabric. Even if you are a designer, you may find this really helpful.

"What do I need to know to be able to print Watercolour onto Fabric?"
This question comes up almost weekly from my clients... so here is a little info for you to equip you with some knowledge when it comes to printing watercolour onto fabric...

1 // YOU CANNOT PAINT WATERCOLOUR DIRECTLY ONTO FABRIC

Has anyone ever tried this? Because it just doesn't work. Watercolour is obviously water-based, so when you apply the paint to the fabric, the fabric fibres just absorb all that water, and the colours bleed into all those fibres. You can create beautiful effects with SHIBORI fabric dying which is a beautiful technique using ink, and traditional folds... feel free to youtube, there are lots of tutorials on this.

So when you are browsing pinterest, or a beautiful boutique and you see watercolour on fabric, it has been "digitally" printed to achieve this. Watercolours are ALWAYS painted onto watercolour paper to begin with, and then they are scanned into the computer, edited, perfected, repeated, and then the correct files are prepared for printing.

2 // DIGITAL PRINTING VS SCREEN PRINTING

I wanted to shed some light on this because this is another common question that comes up from my clients. Many brands that I work with already have a manufacturer that they use to produce their garments, alternatively they might be a brand that is just starting out. Either way, if you are wishing to produce a watercolour design onto your fabric (cotton, silk, whatever) then you need to chat to a manufacture that uses 'DIGITAL' printing technology. Some manufactures offer Screen Printing, however this type of printer cannot achieve various gradients in watercolour artwork, as Screen Printing only uses solid colour. See examples below.

3 // DIGITAL PRINTING - NATURAL FIBRES VS SYNTHETIC FIBRES

This is just a little bit of information that I'd like you to be aware of if you are researching printers and manufactures. As far as digital printing technology goes, there are special printers that only print onto synthetic fibres (ie: polyester, satin) and then there is a different technology all together for printers that print onto natural fibres (ie: bamboo, linen, silk). So make sure that is another question you ask when you are researching both local, and off-shore manufacturers.

For more examples of textile design, you can view my gallery here.