Textile printing has been around for centuries. Clothing has signified different things throughout the century, and so did the printing. It was a way to show you class, wealth, and frankly personality. Not much has changed since then — clothes still play a big role in the way we want to present ourselves to the world. Different fabric types are part of the equation, adding to the way you want to present yourself to the world.
We have talked about how textile printing works, starting from the flags to everyday clothes. Today we will touch upon a different topic. We will cover the most used types of fabric, their properties, and how you can identify them when necessary.
Catch a crash course into different fabric types and what makes them awesome.
Woven vs. Knitted
There are thousands of different fabrics, most of which are woven or knitted. You can learn more about it from this article, but we will briefly cover the basics below.
Remember, your favorite knitted sweater it’s soft for the touch and flexible. These properties of the fabric are achieved thanks to the way the material has been made.
The knitted fabrics are made from one continuous piece of thread. The thread is looped and interlocked with each other to create a web-like structure. The fabric doesn’t come undone easily and is more stretchy and flexible. Different knitting techniques also make for different fabrics with slightly different properties.
Unlike the knitted fabrics, the woven ones are made from individual and separate threads that fray easily. As a result, the material is much less stretch. For these properties, it has many uses. The variety of woven fabric types is also impressive, as you will see below.
Fabrics by type
Not only the way fabrics are made makes them different but also a source of the material.
Knowing which type is very important for choosing the right ink and method of printing and even for achieving the right effect with your print.
1. Natural Fabrics
As the title goes, the natural fabric is the ones made from natural fiber. It’s usually sourced from the sources that can be found in our immediate surroundings, like plants and animals.
One of the most used fabric types in the world, cotton is soft, light, thin, and affordable. It breathes well, doesn’t try quickly. It’s not capricious and can create all kinds of clothes and homeware. Button-up shirts, dresses, socks, T-shirts, and bedsheets are not out of limited.
Not that great of a choice for more difficult clothes and layers. Also, it’s not very warm — so walking out with just a cotton T-shirt on might not be that great of an idea. Great for digital printing and other types of printing.
The warm material that is warm and drapes well. It has small “hair” and can be itchy because of it. The material is often expensive and needs special rules for maintenance — an excellent choice for warmer clothes and winter wear.
It can be used for digital printing but usually requires special pre-printing procedures. The printer heads have to be positioned far away from the actual material. If not followed, the hairy party might damage the printer.
Made from the fiber plant, it is one of the most durable and strongest materials available. It has one of the longest longevity amongst fabric types. The perfect material to wear in the warmer weather because it keeps the clothing feel cold and comfortable.
The fabric is equally popular in the clothing industry as it is in utilities, such as kitchen towels, napkins, placemats, etc.
Being one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world, silk is a rare fabric created from the larvae of the mulberry silkworm to construct their cocoons. Smooth and soft, it is also one of the strongest textures. It’s mainly used in the fashion industry, but expensive furnishing, and industrial usage, isn’t rare.
The fabric type blends with other textiles and can be recolored in any color. Considering that we often use color for psychological reasons, it’s a great property. But, the fabric is difficult to care for and needs special treatment. But it is great for digital printing.
2. Synthetic Fabrics
Unlike the natural, synthetic fabrics are manmade and cannot be found in the environment. The process of creation involves human involvement and often implies transforming one material into another.
Polyester is one of the most versatile and inexpensive fabrics of today that comes in all kinds of styles and forms. It can withstand repeated washing, doesn’t wrinkle. It isn’t as warm as the natural fibers and doesn’t let the skin breathe.
Contrary to the popularity of the material, it isn’t as easy to print on. Digital printing is definitely not the best option. The best printing types used would probably be sublimation.
You can also hear people calling rayon viscose. It is not an entirely synthetic fiber, but not it’s natural, but it definitely can be thought of as manmade. It is made of wood and requires chemical processing. The material is cheap and feels like soft cotton. Working with the material might be challenging, considering its shirty properties.
It’s not as breathable as wool or cotton, but it looks beautiful and drapes easily. Not that difficult to print on with a digital printer.
3. Mix Fabrics
As the name says, mix fabric types are made from both natural and synthetic fibers. It is usually done to maintain the best properties of both — like to make cotton more elastic by adding polyester or smooth wool — and is very common in today’s fast fashion industry.
Of course, the specter is huge. Just imagine how many variations you can get with all the synthetic and natural materials at your disposal. It’s an exciting world to get into.