Technical Note 06 – * folds and creases in whole garment printing
Documenting technical developments discovered whilst pursuing the project Locus of the Dress
One area I have been looking at is the visual qualities of whole garment printing as opposed to flat cloth printing. Generally the process of making textiles for fashion involves printing cloth that is pattern cut to construct the garment. As many of the ideas that support my practice is around releasing memories and experience in worn clothing I am often imposing imagery and color onto previously worn garments. Although I have unpicked and printed garments I have been interested more in printing the whole garment for this project.
This brings quite a few problems as well as opportunities. What I have found is –
1, that you need a large scale dye sublimation press to attempt whole garment printing, although you can do gloves and very small scale garments on sample presses, such as the one I have in my studio. I have been using the large roller press at UCA Rochester.
2, that garments can be bulky and too thick to pass through the press. Or if using the sample press the thickness in some areas inhibits a flat, consistence press stopping the heat and pressure to get to all areas of the garment/cloth. This can happen too when buttons or zips etc are too bulky. The result creates a halo effect around the thicker sections and often the image does not print in this area.
3, it is difficult to lay the garment flat as the way it is constructed often makes it impossible. This creates covered areas that cannot be printed on and so creates a series of folds and creases that stay unprinted. I actively manipulate folds and creases in the print as I like the visual effect.
4,the garment can often shift as it is fed through the roller press and thus not have the planned visual composition planned. The garment can be stuck down to the paper with masking tape but often this will leave a permanent sticky patch. I have found that stitching the garment to the paper makes a more predicable print, stops it from shifting, but you have to be careful not to sew onto the surface of the garment as this will act as a mask/stencil to the print.
5, due to using man-made fibre for dye sub, the garment can often be permanently heat pressed into shape and not flexible or re-shaped once it has been through the heated press.
6, button and zips etc can melt in the printing process, ruining the garment and often the press too.