3 Popular Garment Printmaking Techniques

Published/Updated on:
October 24, 2022
Garment construction plays a large role in fashion businesses differentiating themselves from other brands.

Whether it is the way the garment is draped, the type of fabrics, or the overall style, the construction is what attracts and keeps a loyal customer base. In addition to that, garment patterns are another factor that many people often consider when choosing which fashion brand to buy from. As a result, whether it's floral or graphic designs, garment patterns have become a new method for fashion firms and individuals to show their individuality and sense of style.

Garment printmaking, which is a process of decorating textile fabrics by application of pigments, dyes, or other related materials in the form of patterns, has actually been around for thousands of years. Many experts believe that early printing techniques such as woodblock printing and silk screen printing originated in Asia and then spread to the rest of the world.

As technology improved, so did printmaking techniques, and now there are even design softwares that create and transfer the print onto the garments. Nevertheless, each method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

This article will cover some of the most popular garment printing techniques so that fashion designers can decide for themselves which one suits their needs the most. 

3 Popular Garment Printmaking Techniques 

The main goal of garment printing is to apply colour to textiles in specific patterns and ensure that the dye is bonded to the fibre so that it resists washing and friction. Popular techniques include:

1. Screen printing

Although screen printing is one of the oldest garment printing techniques, it is still very popular today since the patterns it produces are often the most durable.

Firstly, a stencil of the pattern is created onto a screen made of either silk or nylon mesh. The screen is then mounted onto a metal frame which is placed on top of the cloth that is to be printed. Following this, dye is poured onto the screen and a squeegee is used to press down on the stencil, which allows the ink to be spread on the screen and into the material. 

While screen printing produces vibrant colours, it is also limited in the number of colours that can be used at once. Moreover, it is an expensive process which is why it is recommended for printing large quantities of clothes. As a result, if a fashion designer wants to use this method, they will need to carefully consider if their sales will be able to cover its cost.

Get a taste of the screen printing experience in TaF.tc’s Textile Processes and Principles course where you’ll learn exactly how this process works! 

Garment Printing

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2. Heat transfer printing 

This method uses a heat press machine to print a pattern onto the garment. The machine consists of a hot plate, temperature and pressure controller, a handle, a timer and a soft rubber pad.

The pattern is first printed onto a transfer paper and then placed on top of the garment. It is then placed inside the heat press machine through which the pattern is transferred onto the garment. One of the advantages of using this method is that the pattern can contain a variety of colours, which allows for more colourful patterns. However, as heat transfer printing requires manual labour, it is often more time-consuming than other techniques. 

3. Direct to garment (DTG) printing 

While DTG printing was introduced in the 1990s, it only came into popular use in the late 2000s. As the name suggests, DTG printing involves directly printing the ink onto the garment without an intervening medium such as a screen or a transfer paper. The design is first created through clothing design softwares such as Adobe Illustrator. Then it is placed in the DTG printing machine which uses modified inkjet technology that ‘prints’ the design onto the garment and ensures that the dyes penetrate into the fabric. 

In addition, inkjet manufacturers can also create specialised products for different fabrics. For example, acid ink is used for silk and nylon garments while reactive ink is used for cotton and linen garments. Therefore, it ensures that the fashion designer’s patterns are accurately printed onto the garment.

As a result, fashion designers are able to use more colours and create more detailed patterns with this technique. However, this method often works better on white garments rather than dark-coloured garments. The technique may also require extensive washing and steaming after printing for certain fabrics, which adds to the labour times. 

A Garment Worth Noticing 

While there are other garment printing techniques, these three are the most popular as they have shown to produce the best results. When deciding what type of print to use on a garment, it's also important to know which printing technique will assist you to get the desired result. As seen above, some methods may produce long-lasting designs but only enable a limited number of colours, while others may produce more elaborate patterns but take longer. At the end of the day, garment printmaking remains a means for fashion designers to exhibit their creativity and so, the design of the pattern is the most crucial element in creating a garment worth remembering. 

attern Making and Garment Construction

As a leading design school in Singapore, the Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre has a wide range of classes and certifications to help fulfil your goals! Browse our list of programmes to learn more.

Thasnova Rahman Thamim

Thamim loves writing and has experience handling social media pages as well as writing blog posts. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading and watching films, particularly if its of the science fiction, fantasy, and historical genres. Some of the clients whom she has worked with include ID21, 365 Cancer Prevention Society, Rentokil, and Her Velvet Vase.

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