We print using a wide format, direct-to-textile printer running fibre reactive dyes. We print on natural fibre fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk up to widths of 145cm (about 58″). Our favourite fabrics include:
- quilting weight cotton for our art quilts and dressmaking
- medium weight cotton for cushions and other homewares
- cotton lawn for dressmaking and scarves
- cotton velvet for cushions and homefurnishing
- silk habotai and chiffon for scarves
Digital printing with reactive dyes is a three step process:
- First we load the specially coated fabric onto the printer and print directly to it using reactive dyes
- Next the fabric is steamed to fix the dyes and form the permanent chemical bond between dye and fibre.
- Finally the fabrics are rinsed to remove any excess dye, washed, dried and pressed.
Lots of other digital printers use pigment inks on fabric. Unlike reactive dyes which make a chemical bond with the fabric, pigment inks sit more on the surface, rather like a paint. We’ve found that often reactive dyes create a fabric that washes better and of course, stays completely soft with all of it’s beautiful drape.
As an artist who loves to work with a layered approach, I chose to digitally print with reactive dyes for other reasons. The dyes we print with work in a very similar way to the Procion MX dyes that I hand dye with. I can combine both processes with ease, layering digital print with hand dye while retaining the softness of the fabric. And, just as with my hand dyes, I can use discharge printing and painting methods to strip colour from the digital prints. The creative possibilities are huge!
Unlike with traditional printmaking methods such as screenprinting, with digital print it’s just as easy to print with hundreds of different colours as it is two. This makes the technique particularly suitable for printing intricate designs or photographic images.