From freehand painting to transferring designs to flat surfaces that are coated with dye and stamp onto the fabric, today I am all about prints and printing. The process allows fabrics or apparel pieces to have a unique design and stand out. So I started this post as a research. What do I know about the history of prints in fashion? Are there any interesting facts about prints?
1000BC (Russia) & 4th century BC (Egypt)
The simplest printing technology involved a block of material, usually wood. Skilled people used to draw designs on a wood`s flat side. The design has a raised position obtained after carving. The next step is to add colour or viscous dye in order to press the design onto the cloth.
Prints were popular among footwear as well. The best example is Tutankhamen’s sandals imprinted with images of his enemies. He believed that by wearing the sandals, he can crush his opponents underfoot.
6th century BC (Greece)
Prints become a symbol of luxury for the Greeks. Only the wealthy ones could afford to have their clothes dyed in bright colours, stripes and dot prints. At the time, these design can be spotted on peplos – the simple sleeveless outer garment.
18th century – Chinoiserie
In Europe, the 18th-century marked a huge interest in Chinese clothes, tea and porcelain. European textile manufacturers adapted and learned fast few Chinese dye techniques. The garments of the time had prints of the pagodas, temples or other Chinese inspired symbols.
Accessories are better with prints too. Parasols are light umbrellas that protect the owner from the sun. They were the perfect accessory for the display of taste and become very popular in England in the 18th century. As you probably guessed, parasols used silk, satin or fabrics imprinted with stunning designs as materials.
20th century – Social changes, wars and prints
When women asked for the right to vote and work outside the home, they also gave up uncomfortable garments. The length of women`s skirts rose and tailors started to use fewer materials in order to make clothes.
During the first world war, the French designer Paul Poiret earn recognition for his creations sh0wing the war can`t stop style. Colored textiles, ornaments and textile print designs were still important for him and his clients.
The printed dress trend appeared in 1930. In order to save money, women had to buy plain fabrics but the desire to stand out become stronger. Floral, polka dots, checks were the perfect solution.
Prints have been with us for many centuries
Printing is a cheaper way of creating designs by using dyes and pigments. There is a huge variety of techniques for printing designs to warp yarns, fabric or garment pieces. I only chose above to mention some aspects I found interesting about prints. To me, the understanding of textiles is quite interesting so I will dive in again, more about prints.
The direct printing methods are:
- Block printing – one of the oldest technique, see more in the first paragraph
- Mordant printing requires a mordant and emerging the fabric into a dyebath
- Blotch printing involves colouring the background and applying design motifs as well.
- Overprinting is an application of a design onto a fabric already dyed. Differs from blotch printing because the shade has the same intensity on both sides.
- Warp printing means printing the warp yarns before weaving.
Other printing methods
Other printing methods include resist printing (batik, tie dyeing & ikat), discharge printing, heat transfer printing, photographic, electrostatic and flock printing.
There is a printing technique I want to mention because to me this is pure art: the batik technique. This method originates in the Indonesian Archipelago and involves applying melted was from a tjanting (a special cup) onto the cloth. The wax will coat the fabric and the dye/ pigment can`t reach the fibres.
While high street & high-end brands choose to feature different prints, some customers tend to choose plain fabrics. Do polka dots, animal print, florals, geometric, checks, slogans dictate a low-quality fabric? Well, yes and no, depending on the fabric used.
* PR Sample
What are your thoughts regarding fashion through prints? Do you wear them frequently or you are more into block colours?