Printing Art on Fabric
Every printed fabric is different, and although most people already know this, they can't really say why. Knowing the difference can help you decide which fabric to choose to create the desired effect of your artwork on fabric. Will your fabric be used just as a piece of textile or do you want to go a step further and use your art on fabric for clothing, scarves or other accessories?
We've put together this handy guide to help you have a basic understanding of what different fabric properties mean, so you can make an informed decision which fabric you want to print your artwork on. We have grouped together some of the simple characteristics of fabrics you can print your art on (if you know you need something stretchy, or you know it has to be waterproof) so that you can jump right in.
Know the characteristics before printing artwork on fabric
When printing art on fabric, there are a number of basic fabric characteristics and properties that you will want to take into account. These are physical characteristics that you can often tell by touch or by looking at a fabric that will have an impact on the effect of your artwork. The most common ones are detailed below, however there are so many different fabric characteristics and properties, that if we were to list them all, you'd never get round to that art project you're planning to print.
Breathability - This is the fabric's ability to allow moisture vapor to be passed through the material. This helps the clothing that is made from it to not become too warm or uncomfortable. Due to this, breathable fabrics are great for sports wear.
Weight - If you're planning to print artwork on fabric for a summer dress, you want a lightweight fabric. If you're making a coat, you'd want your artwork on a heavier, opaque fabric. So choosing the right fabric for your art is key.
Drape - This, in essence, is how your fabric hangs. If it hangs in graceful folds, it is said to have a good drape. If there isn't any drape, or very little drape, it would have poor drape. These are stiff fabrics for your artwork; and they are incredibly useful for certain things, for example detailing on a mask for a costume.
Durability - Durability is sometimes just as important for printing art on fabrics as it is in tyres. If you are making, for example, a hat, you want it to be able to withstand being put on and taken off hundreds of times. If you are making cushion covers, you want them to last throughout people sitting on them and leaning on them.
Softness - Sometimes you want to print your artwork on fabric that is super soft; if you are making clothing or blankets for example. However sometimes a coarser, textured or stiffer fabric is required. Take into account how soft or otherwise you need your art on fabric to be.
Fabric Construction For Artwork on Fabric
Most fabrics (but not all) will come under one of two categories when it domes to their construction properties; woven or knitted. This affects the physical appearance as well as the characteristics of fabric and your artwork on the fabric, but is not always as easy to tell.
Woven - These fabrics are made up of woven wefts and warps. In that "over, under, over, under" way that you may have been taught at school, with strips of paper.
Knitted - These fabrics are made my looping the wefts and warps rather than weaving them.
Wefts and Warps - The warps are the lengthwise, or vertical, yarns and the wefts are the transverse, or horizontal, yarns.