How to print on linen: all about linen fabric prints
Why not make a sustainable choice and print on linen fabrics? maake tells you why printing on linen is a great choice for your business.
People like to use a natural piece of textile like linen, as it is sustainable. Yes, this is a popular choice of textile. It’s a natural fibre that allows the body to breathe. It doesn’t irritate the skin or make you feel overheated in summer.
It's high quality and it doesn’t stick to our skin in the heat.
All about linen fabric
The world has used linen for centuries. And no wonder. It’s a very hard-wearing textile and the quality is excellent. Actually, Egyptians were mummified with this textile in ancient times. Much later, it was even used as currency instead of money.
Today, we produce flax all over the world to make this cloth. The most common areas where the flax plant is grown include Canada, China and Russia.
We make this type of cloth from the cellulose fibres that grow inside the stalks of the purple-flowering flax plant. We make linseed oil out of flax, too. Incidentally, flax is an annual plant and only grows for one season every year.
Flax is one of the oldest plants used by humans. We have made linen from very fine flax fibres for hundreds of years, to print on clothes and other products like table linen, sheets and towels.
We extract the fibres from the plant, spin them into yarn and weave them into lengths.
Linen is a popular fabric cut, as people find it relatively easy to source. But it's more expensive than cotton.
You'll see everything from magnificent print masterpieces on show in museums to humble products like bathroom face cloths made from this cloth on sale in stores worldwide.
People enjoy wearing this comfortable, versatile textile in hot weather as it’s very lightweight, you see.
Here's an interesting fact: 100 linen’s distinct fibres and open weave mean that it creases very easily. Most designers don't worry about that. They love the unique texture to print on.
This natural fibre costs a lot to produce. We make it more affordable by blending the yarn with other fibres.
It is one of the most sustainable fabrics. A natural fibre, it's biodegradable and environmentally friendly, too.
Why print on linen fabric?
- Its fibres are long and sturdy, like leather, and material made from these fibres is extremely hard-wearing and long-lasting.
- This textile absorbs moisture well and is quick to dry.
- This sustainable process uses eco-friendly inks to print on.
- People say that this particular material stimulates blood flow.
- It is a great textile choice. It is very hygienic and antiseptic.
- People like to wear this textile as it is lightweight and breathes well.
- This is a natural fabric made from flax.
- You can print on these fabrics using any shade– as many colours as there are dyes.
- This textile softens every time you wash it by hand in cold water. Avoid strong cleaners, and be gentle with the fabric: don’t wring or tumble dry.
For more advantages of using this type of fabric, we’ve compiled a go-to blog on The coolest fabrics for summer. Read it now!
The linen printing process involves applying pigments, dyes or other related fabrics to fabrics. These fabrics form patterns.
Medium weight and heavyweight fabrics and blends offer stunning textile quality for use on a printer.
Our clients choose this type of cloth for a number of different products, including upholstery, handbags and other accessories, quilts and clothes.
Because of what the fibres are structured, they may come loose. This will leave a white or beige mark. That just adds to the item’s beauty.
maake likes to use a virtual process for printed cloth. This is a very popular method on this type of cloth. The ink utilised in the process stick to the textile surface by means of a binding agent.
You'll notice that the pattern looks like it has been painted on the sheets, as if the textile was paper. It’s that perfect!
Linen fabric printing methods
The type of printing processes used depends on the fabric you’re using. maake uses either the textile or sublimation process (see below) for digital printing on linen fabric. Print on fabric is similar to dying fabrics. Dying fabric involves you using only one shade. You don't use a selection.
This reproduction method involves you repeating a pattern on the entire piece of fabric, or just a part of it, depending on what you’re looking for.
The digital textile process for printed linen
The digital reproduction process for fabrics is known for its sustainability, which makes it ideal for linen. It uses water-based inks that are eco-friendly and don’t contain chemicals.
This is a major advantage of the digital reproduction process.
There are other advantages, too. You can stamp your design on exactly the amount of fabric you need. And as you’re using the water-based type of ink, this method is very sustainable. There is no compromise on design, either.
Indeed, this method offers endless opportunities for design, shade and patterns when you use it on linen.
This method of reproduction is very accurate and precise, too. It shows you what a custom fabric will look like. And this includes the pattern and your exact choice of colours.
After it’s printed, the fabrics wash beautifully. Thet also have an excellent drape and texture, which improves every time you wash them. They literally gets better after each wash!
Also, the latest generation machines are designed to be fast and environmentally friendly. They offer faster output, printheads of a higher resolution and handle fabrics better.
That’s what makes them ideal for reproduction on fabrics to use in fashion, interior décor, homeware, custom items and much more. Indeed, all natural fabrics work best with the digital reproduction method.
Printing natural linen
At maake we use custom natural cloth and the digital direct-to-textile process. As a matter of fact, our customers prefer this method because it's so sustainable.
Our clients don't only reproduce designs on fabrics for fashion, accessories, upholstery and soft furnishings (cushions, couches and curtains, etc).
They also use this method for custom tea towels, napkins, table runners, aprons, cushions and any other homeware products that they need for sewing and manufacturing.
Ours is one of the most eco-friendly reproduction processes available for fabrics and it uses digital pigment inks. And we use no water in this reproduction process. We use 95% less energy in this process, too.
Using the digital process for reproducing on this type of fabric offers superb quality; it doesn't matter if the fabrics are medium or heavy in weight (gsm, or grams per square metre add); the results are excellent.
People use this fabric for upholstery, cushions, handbags, quilts and clothing.
How maake prints linen cotton
The digital method for linen cotton uses pigment ink which sticks to the textile surface with a binding agent.
The result is superb. It looks as if one has painted the design onto the fabric.
Because of the way this textile is structured, some fibres come loose during the process and leave a white or a beige mark. That just adds to the beauty, individuality and patina of the fabric.
All linen-fabric that we blend with synthetic fibres (we’re talking the Eco linen look here), is reproduced using the sublimation method.
We’ve also compiled an informative blog on Digital printing on fabric which we recommend reading before you print on any type of fabric.
Advantages of printing the fabric linen
The fabric linen is often blended with cotton to make a custom cotton like textile that is much softer and doesn’t crease as much as 100% linen.
- You can copy a design, logo or pattern, or photos. It’s up to you.
- It is not expensive to use the digital process for linen print.
- The price tags for this process stay the same, no matter how many colours you use.
- Great quality with excellent accuracy and sharp reproduction.
- A sustainable method of reproduction – you make just what you need.
- This method requires less water and electricity.
- Order a small sample first – we can’t stress this enough and it’s vital. It will give you an idea of what the pattern will look like on a bigger custom item and how the design and colours print.
We use the dye sublimation method of reproduction for natural fabric with special thermal paper sheets at maake. This method is excellent for all polyesters and man-made fabrics, plus linen, blends, polyester and poly blends.
This relatively new professional reproduction process using thermal paper offers excellent results on fabric.
The sublimation process is a chemical process involving reproducing designs in a mirrored form on a specific type of thermal paper called ‘dye sublimation paper’.
How the sublimation process works
To bring the design from the paper to the fabric, printers use heat and pressure. In this scientific process, the heat causes the water-based ink to evaporate into a gas. And this gas then bonds chemically with the fabric fibre.
The printer then transfers the pattern from the paper to the fabric. In this process, the inks penetrate deep into the fabrics and create a permanent print.
The sublimation method with thermal paper is an excellent method for linen; it reproduces detailed designs and numerous shades on synthetic fabrics including linen fabric blends.
Advantages of sublimation printing on linen
- This is a sustainable reproduction method, as the water-based inks used in this process require no water and don’t fade or peel over time
- It creates great detail, every time
- If you use this method for linen, you’ll find it’s excellent for all runs, both small and large
- The prints come out clear and bright every time. No excess ink is left behind on the paper
- All designs are durable and won’t scratch off.
Different types of linen material
- Damask linen is a rich fabric, an exquisite blend of a plain linen weave and satin weave fabrics. The result is dainty and embellished, and looks very similar to embroidery.
This high quality textile resembles natural linen with the added bonus of a silky sheen. We make suits, dresses and other luxury linen garments from damask linen.
We use a jacquard loom to create damask fabric. This gorgeous textile is great for tablecloths and serviettes. There's a variation, called Venice linen, which we use for curtains.
- Loosely woven linen is very absorbent. We use it mostly for towelling products and babies’ nappies.
- Plain woven linen has a distinctive loose weave. It is a soft and absorbent material. We use it for various products including luxurious towels, dishcloths and cloths for cleaning glassware. And we make handkerchiefs out of plain woven linen natural.
A similar textile is called butcher’s linen. We often use these very hard-wearing fabrics for aprons and heavy-duty garments.
- Sheeting linen is a heavy cloth that we use mostly for garments and men’s suits.
- Linen blends: There are numerous fabrics on the market. We blend many of these with linen to create specialist fabrics.
This popular cotton blend is what we use at maake. It features a cotton rich combination, 50% linen and 50% cotton. This is a wonderful cotton linen blend, as the cotton gives the fabrics body and stops them from creasing.
- Linen and polyesteris a very common fabrics blend. It's relatively inexpensive, as we blend it with polyester. And it doesn’t crease like 100% linen does.
The best linen products
The most common products to shop for that are made from these fabrics include:
- Bedding: sheets, pillowcases, bed covers, quilts and duvet covers
- Table accessories:tablecloths, table runners and serviettes
- Clothes: Formal and casual garments and men’s suits
- Kitchen items and accessories:dishcloths, tray cloths and tea towels
- Fashion accessories:handbags, belts, etc
- Personal products:handkerchiefs
- Footwear:casual shoes
- Décor and lifestyle accessories:upholstery, cushions, throws, curtains, etc.
Here we discuss the different linen fabric available at maake and the linen reproduction options – what products we feel suit each linen textile best.
We also explain how designs and patterns look on each different fabric. This will help you and give you an idea of what your final order will look like.
Decor and homeware
- Thinking of curtains, tea towels, a gift or other products for the home? Melino linen is the most lightweight fabric in our range and it’s ideal for those products.
This cotton/linen mix textile has a slub texture that tends to create a stunning extra depth to the fabric. The texture of the fabrics is slightly irregular, but the fabric is smooth and soft. Colour prints on these fabrics mix beautifully on its natural base.
- For tablecloths, cushions, curtains, clothes and jackets, gifts, etc, Eco Linen Look is the ideal choice. We create this sustainable textile blend from 53% Recycled Polyester and 5% linen.
It has a natural looking base and structured drape. The cloth is extremely versatile; it’s perfect for tableware, cushions, curtaining, garments and outerwear.
Want to make a jacket or light upholstery for a piece of furniture? Choose Limani linen as these fabrics are a bit heavier and crisper than our Merino fabric. It’s our medium-weight cotton/linen textile choice for this type of product.
Limani has a slub texture that gives it a natural, tactile feel. Incidentally, we use it for a lot to print on custom readymade homeware products and accessories too. Take a look at the selection we offer at maakeHome. Like Melino linen, Limani has a natural base and trim, and colour lights up and prints beautifully. Choose your print, then add it to your wishlist or basket now!
Printing linen in 3 easy steps
For great quality and quantity price saving, let maake assist with your print requirements. Check out our fabric sample book to see how designs print on these fabrics. Another great tool is our Colour Atlas, which features 2,400 colours on a metre of fabric to show you what each colour looks when you print on different base fabrics. You can read all about how to use our Colour Atlas effectively here. Order this invaluable tool now! Delivery linen is fast and efficient. We’ve set the standard high!!