Printing on Denim Fabric

Last updated on July 31st, 2023 at 12:30 am

Printing on denim is an issue we should be careful about, otherwise, you may have a latent problem that you are unaware of until it is too late.

Printed Denim Fabric

Denim is made from “Bean dye” with the warp threads heavily covered by starch mixed with indigo or sulphur dye. If you want to print on it the only method you can use, is to use pigment print to cover the dark color of denim. However, when you do that the pigment dye applied is on the surface of the fabric; to make it clearer, it is on the starch mixed with indigo or sulphur dye but not on the cotton fibre. When the printing is done, the printed design may look acceptable without giving you a clue that there is a hidden problem. However, when garments are made from this fabric and washed, you will notice that the printing has disappeared leaving only faint marks where the printing used to be. This is used because during washing the starch is washed away and the printing which was attached only to the starch went with it.

When you order printed denim you must tell the printing how much you want the printing to stay
on the fabric after wash. The following are examples:

  • 100% of the printing to stay
  • 70% of the printing to stay
  • 40% of the printing to stay
  • 5% of the printing to stay

If you want 100% of the printing color to stay on the fabric after wash, you must do the following:

  • Before printing you must desize the fabric very thoroughly. Desize means to away the starch on the fabric.
  • The pigment dye must contain sufficient “binder” to make the dye stay.
  • After printing you must get the fabric through the “baking process” for sufficient time and temperature.

If you do the above 3 steps thoroughly, the printing will be color fast and remain bright and fresh after washing. However, I’m not sure this is what you need because; usually garment buyers or consumers would not like the printing on denim to be color fast to stay bright and fresh like new. They probably would like 30% or 40% of the printing to go away after washing with 60% or 70% of the color to stay. In such case, the 3 steps as described above must be done to a different extent:

  • You still desize the denim thoroughly before printing.
  • You still use “binder” in your pigment dyed, but use less amount.
  • You still get the printed denim through the baking process but at lower temperature and for shorter time.

For the above adjusted process, a certain amount of the dye will be washed away when the garment goes through the washing process, to achieve the slightly faded look desired.

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He is Abu Sayed, the founder of the blog site Textile Apex. He is a Textile Engineer having eight years plus practical experience in the Textile and Clothing industries. With a deep love for fashion and a keen eye for detail, he combines his creative flair with extensive knowledge to offer insightful and engaging content to his readers.
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3 thoughts on “Printing on Denim Fabric

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