KALOPSIA'S TIPS - PREPARING YOUR FABRIC FOR ORDERS
A product is only as good as the fabric it’s made from. Often we get asked about what to consider when buying or checking fabric before sending off for production. So here are our tips and throughs on what to look out for and think about when buying, printing, weaving or knitting your fabric.
Digital printing is amazing! It allows for some brilliant results and contributes to about 50-80% of the fabric we work with. There are however still things that need to be considered when using it.
TYPE OF PRINT
There are many processes used to print fabric. Different inks, printers and steaming processes. These can all have advantages and disadvantages. We won’t go into all of them here, but it’s worth while doing some research into them to insure you are getting the right print for your needs.
When the fabric is coated, printed and steamed it is pushed, pulled and stretch through all sorts of machines and processes. This can sometimes lead to the print not sitting perfectly in line with the grain of the fabric. This normally just leads to a slight bowing towards the end of the fabric. Not a big issue unless you have not allowed enough run-off for your products (we would suggest at least 10%.)
This can of course create problems for items such as silk scarfs or pocket squares. Silk seems to be more prone to this issue than other fabric which can lead to print being notably off the grain. To make things worse, because of the normally tight grain of silk, it can also be very difficult to spot this unless you know what your looking for or have straight blocked lined patterns.
The best way to test for this is to pull a thread across the top or bottom of the fabric (on the blank unprinted border, not on your print of course!) if the print is in the grain, the thread should pull the full length of the fabric. If it pulls out earlier and looks like it’s coming out at an angle you may have a problem.
The reason this can be a problem is due to the way silk is hemmed for a machine roll hem. The folder follows the edge of the fabric and picking up and rolling the edge of the material under itself. If the print is off the grain, the folder will follow the grain and push the scarf out of the folder.
Compensating for this often leads to the edge of the scarf stretching and becoming distorted (basically the print is sitting on the bias through the fabric and this allows it to stretch unnaturally) causing the corners to poke out at an odd angle.
This issue effects the hemming of all silk differently - some doesn’t make too much of a difference while some is near impossible to hem correctly. So it is an important factor to be aware of and to alert your product manufacturer too if you spot it. The earlier it’s caught the easier it is to do something about and printers can be warned about the issue and re-prints can be made if needed.
Placement prints can be tricky to get right and often requires a few samples. The processing that the printed fabric goes through can lead to a slight shrinking or distortion. This is normally no problem but if you have printed a placement design it could be a real problem.
We would suggest speaking to your printer first before printing. Check with them about the fabric and how they can behave and always measure them when they arrive with you!
Also remember that fabric doesn’t act like paper and each batch can be different. When working with fabric insure that you are familiar with the materials.
All fabrics have different tolerances, as do all print and dye process. Fabrics and fibre (especially naturals) are living materials and variations do happen. (This is part of the fun of working with fabric!) Differences in base fabric colour, the effects of processing, slubs, pulls and bowing, can all be part of a material’s characteristics.
So be aware of what these are and be ready for variations with in the tolerances of your materials. If you are not aware of these you could spend a lot of time and money trying to achieve something that isn’t possible with the fabric your working with.
Most prints, weavers, dyers etc will be able to talk though these with you. They will have a good understanding of these and will direct you to the right fabric, weight and finishing.
THE ‘RIGHT’ FABRIC
Not all fabrics are created “equal”, some work brilliantly for some products and not for others. As a general rule we would say to always speak to your product manufacturer before ordering fabric as ordering the wrong material may cause some real problems.
WEIGHT IS KEY
Weight is the issue that can make or break a product. Fabric that is too heavy or too light can be used but it will never give as good a result as a “correctly” weighted fabric.
WHAT WOULD WE SUGGEST?
Throughout of the Assemble catalogues you will find information on what we believe is the most appropriate type of fibre for each product. This is of course just a rough guide and there are a ton of other brilliant materials that will work perfectly for each product.
If you are ordering fabric by the meter rather than printing it, it’s worth bearing in mind that different weaves and colours from the same supplier may not be the same weight. This is no problem for a production point of view but the end product may not look completely uniform if the weights are different.
Always get a sample. Always, no excuses, don’t just rush an order. Every time you use a new material or trying a new product, get a sample!
Samples of both the fabric and product are to insure that you get the quality you are looking for and that manufacturers can insure that they can work well with you materials. If you are not getting a sample and something later goes wrong, you might be in trouble and it will be up to the manufacturers to whether you get a refund or if the fabric/products can be re-produced.
Most print and fabric providers will offer samples in one form or another (either for free or for a small charge) always take them up on this service. Get samples and give them a good feel and make sure they are what your looking for.
If your not sure about the fabric, send us a swatch or it! We are happy to advise where we can, just don’t be disappoint if we say a material isn’t right for the job.
KNITTED OR WOVEN?
It’s worth noting the difference between these two processes and what they are used for.
As a general rule we don’t process knitted materials, as we do not have the machinery to do so. There are some notable exceptions to this rule but if your still in the process of learning the difference, it’s best to stick with with woven for the moment!
Jersey is a knitted material - traditionally used for t-shirts, sweaters and jogging bottoms etc - we can not and do not process jersey but there are some fantastic companies that do! So if you are looking for these items we can certain point you in the right direction!
Note - Cotton is a fibre, Jersey is a type of knit. Cotton jersey is normally the type of jersey you might be working with but cotton and jersey are not the same thing. Apologies, but it can sometimes cause a lot of confusion and time if you are not aware of it.
Your printed silk probably isn’t thick enough for a tie. It’s a sad thing to have to say but tie silk is thick, it’s really thick. It’s also expensive, very expensive and for this reason it’s probably not stocked by your printer as standard. Trying to force silk that is too thin to work for this, is something we have been asked to do many times.
If you would like to produce printed silk ties, we would advise speaking to someone that specialises in them. There are a few companies around that do this and they will be able to give you a much, much better finish.
Alternatively, heavier materials such as cotton, linen and wool works brilliant with the way we process ties and are all brilliant alternatives to silk.
ASK US IF YOUR NOT SURE!
It’s impossible to be an expert on everything so if you are ever not sure about a material get in contact and we can talk it through. Whether it’s by email, call or social media. Give us a message and we can have a chat!