This past week has been all about printing.
While my wonderful pattern-maker is finalising all details and adjustments, it is time for me to finalise all fabrics and patterns.
Normally when we design a collection, we start with choosing the fabrics but with this collection, we did it the other way around. We started with shapes and figured out the rest afterwards. We had to reverse the process, in order to figure out how we could minimise ( and one day hopefully completely cut out) our waste.
Because we had to re-invent the process, it has taken us a little longer than normal to design this collection but we have learnt a lot during this process.
Back to printing.
What is the most sustainable way to print ?
What is the most cost effective ?
What limitations are there for various printing methods ?
Block Printing – a method that dates back to as far as 200AD. Simple and probably one of the most sustainable ways to print but not the best in time-efficiency.
Screen Printing – relatively cost efficient and sustainable if using water based inks but creates a fair amount of ink and water waste. There are also some limitations to maximum screen sizes. Set-up costs relatively high if using more than 1 colour, as each colour requires its own screen. Best for simple prints.
Digital print – probably one of the most costly methods but also one of the most sustainable, in terms of ink and waster use but requires more energy than other hand printing methods. Low set-up cost and you can create some amazing multicolour patterns using this method. The only other set-back, if using water based ink, is that the colours don’t come out very bright even after 2 applications.
Natural Pigment print/dye – completely natural but time consuming and difficult to produce in larger scale locally. Not at all flexible in terms of style and pattern.
Having looked at all above methods, we decided that digital printing was probably the most sustainable and flexible but it wouldn’t be cost-efficient for our customers so decided to screen-print our fabrics.
With that in mind. We have to look at the all the garment patterns to see how our prints would work and figure out how we can maximise the use of our total fabric widths that range from about 1,1m – 1,4m and a maximum screen size of 0,9m x 0,9m. We are OK with placement prints but it is much trickier with an all-over print.
Luckily, we still have a few more days to get it all finalised.
Fabrics will all get ordered next week and printing will get done a few days after that. So exciting !
There aren’t that many sustainable suppliers and printers in UK but here are a few that I have found. Hope you find it useful.
Rapanui (Bulk t-shirt printing )
3rd Rail (They print with a variety of inks. Ask for water based ink)
Fabrica Textiles (Water-based inks on Organic Textiles)
Saule Print (Water-based inks on standard woven fabric only but ca do organic jerseys)
Sustainable Fabric Suppliers
Offset Warehouse (UK)
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