Behind-the-Scenes: Fabric Printing

Posted by baker miller

In our last blog post, we discussed the steps it took to create prints for our plus-size clothing brand, baker miller. We talked about standard printing techniques today in the fashion industry - rotary printing, sublimation, and digital printing.
Our printing house, located right outside downtown Los Angeles, guided us on the best printing method for our viscose jersey: rotary printing. With this process, the dye would absorb into the fabric evenly and effectively and hold better and longer than other types of printing. Our colors would be vibrant and intense.
How does rotary printing work? Once the print design is complete, a textile artist separates the design into individual colors. The design for each color is then etched onto a separate, cylindrical screen. For example, if the print contained three colors, then three screens would need to be created.
The engraved screen rotates on the printing machine while a squeegee device inside the screen pushes the dye through the screen and onto the fabric. The dye is piped to the screens from the paint containers placed next to them.
Here is a photo of the printing machine at our print house (note this is NOT our fabric):

fabric printing factory
After our factory engraved our screens, they next prepared the dye. The same dyes used in fabric dyeing are used for textile printing, but they are thickened with agents to create a print paste. Creating a print paste allows the colors, when being applied, to stay in place and ensure clean designs and crisp lines.
The next step was the strike-off, a fabric sample printed to our requirements. Once we approved, it was time for production printing. Here is a strike-off for one of our fabrics:

fabric printing strike off

After the printing, the fabric passed from the main cylinder through a drying and steaming chamber to set the color. This process ensures that the prints do not fade over time.
Next, the fabric went through thorough washing and drying. This step is necessary to remove unfixed dyes, thickeners, and other components of the print paste.
After that step, a softening finish was applied to the fabric to make it smooth and soft.
Then we were done!
Here is a photo of our printed fabric on the fit & flare dress:

baker miller plus-size blue dots fit & flare dress
Printing for a small brand like baker miller is difficult – most print houses have large minimum yardage requirements. But we found a factory willing to print in small batches. We're happy to offer our customers made-to-order dresses in our prints.

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