Virtual Tour of a Fabric Factory

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Quilting, Sewing | Comments


Have you ever wondered how fabric is made? Your favorite fabric is most likely either screen printed or digitally printed. In the fabric factory, designs are rolled out one at a time and everyone works together to produce quality fabrics for your projects. Discover the many ways beautiful fabrics to life, and then learn how to dye your own custom fabric.

Now, let’s take a closer look!

In some fabric factories, like the Pagong factory in Japan, workers screen print fabric section by section as it is rolled out on a long “easel.”

The Kansai Eye blog explains how the Pagong company used to specialize in printing kimono fabrics, but switched to fabrics for western apparel over the last several years.

The Marimekko Blog shares a pair of articles showing how their pretty screen-printed fabrics are made in a Helsinki, Finland, fabric factory.

Their process has undergone an overhaul in the last decade as they’ve developed more advanced printing screens for the operation. After being printed with a layer of color, fabric is traditionally heat-set before another layer of color is added.

Another type of fabric factory involves digital printing on textiles. The Spoonflower factory in Durham, North Carolina, prints fabric on demand for customers who place orders via their Web site.

As you can see above, all of the colors are printed onto fabric simultaneously with this fabric production method. A bonus of this production method is that Spoonflower customers can design their own prints and order them by the yard.

Julia of All Sparked Up shares more fun photos from her visit to the Spoonflower fabric facilities.

Another fun aspect of digital printing is the connection to modern technology, such as body scans. What’s that, you ask?

Sally Aitken shares some photos from her visit to TC2, the Textile Clothing Technology Corporation, in Cary, North Carolina.

The photo above shows a section of fabric that was printed only in the areas needed for a skirt sewing pattern. This means that less dye, water and energy is used to print the fabric, and the white scraps can be recycled and used again.

A newcomer to the digital printing market, Modern Yardage is a company that digitally prints fabric designs from licensed designers.

Above is an example of a 2-yard cut of fabric with four half-yard designs printed right next to each other. The fabric is shipped directly to the customer after their order is placed. As a result, fabric is not over printed.

But what if you can’t decide what fabric to choose? There’s something great about visiting a local fabric shop and perusing the actual fabrics, which you can touch and feel.

Michael Lawrence at Books, Quilts and Sewing shares some photo outtakes from his trip to the Moda fabric warehouse in Dallas. As you can see, the rows and shelves are labeled to store plastic-wrapped bolts of finished fabric. After the factory, fabric typically goes to a warehouse to be stored until the orders roll in. When your local fabric shop places an order, the fabric is shipped from the warehouse to your hometown.

Now that you know how factories do it, learn to design and dye your own custom fabrics in the Craftsy classes The Art of Cloth Dyeing and Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist. Come back to the Craftsy blog on Thursday. We’ll be taking a look at how to dye fabrics using items from nature, from plums and onion skins to blueberries and tree bark.

Have you ever visited a fabric factory? What part of the fabric-printing process most interests you?

Comments

  1. Josie says:

    thanks for sharing this. i have visited numerous fabric mills in my apparel career including woven and print mills. in the case of the printing mill, i mainly enjoy seeing the set up of the various screens, then how the printing is done from one screen to the next.

  2. Stormyeyes says:

    I have been interested in screen printing for years. Since I was a teen about 50 years ago! I just never had the time or the place to do it. Those flowers look fab.

  3. Mary McNeill says:

    Very interesting.

  4. Rosemary says:

    While on a Quilt History Tour I visited Cranston-VIP in Massachusetts. It was exciting. While I had studied the process in college many years ago, there’s nothing like seeing it. Check out their history at http://www.cpw.com/?page_id=2

  5. Liz Plummer says:

    There’s a wonderful printing museum in Mulhouse, France where they demonstrate the old methods of printing using natural dyes, mordants and printing blocks: http://www.musee-impression.com/gb/musee/default.html

    A couple of years ago I compiled a Google Map of textile museums on my blog which might be of interest to readers of this blog post:
    http://lizplummer.com/blog/useful-information/google-maps-of-textile-museums/

  6. Kelly Baker says:

    I am mostly interested in quilt history. That part really gets me going. Ive taken a break from quilting as my mom has been ill and there has been mass stress with

    that. I have to be able to relax to quilt but look forward to doing more real soon.

  7. Seijawahlman says:

    My industrial visit during my graduation studies was to a Fabric factory. The works they do their has inspired me a lot. The creativity of their designing team and the printing process done on the fabric is appreciable.

  8. Margaret Hibbard says:

    I really DO NOT like painted fabrics. I am a longarm quilter and when I have to undo (rip out) an area on the painted fabric that does not look right, the fabric is non forgiving and leaves unsightly holes. It may save the fabric manufacturers money, but in the long haul I do not think this is a good way to create beautiful fabric.