Fabric printing methods and my homemade duvet cover

Over a year ago I shared a photo on Instagram of a duvet cover I had made from my Senora fabric,

Homemade duvet cover

As I was hanging it on the washing line at the weekend and marveling at how little it has faded in the year it’s been in use. I thought I’d share it again in a blog post.

It’s quite an interesting (I hope) way of explaining about the printing process I use.

Duver cover reactive ink digitally printed

Digital printing isn’t all the same. There are different processes available, some are more costly than others but have more benefits in my opinion.

My fabrics are all printed with reactive inks as opposed to pigment inks. I will try to explain the reason I chose this route.

To print with reactive inks the fabric first has to be pre-treated to allow the ink to actually penetrate the fibres of the fabric.

This results in a much nicer handle to the fabric. The fabric is softer, drapes better and the colour is much more resilient and less likely to fade or abrade.

The colour gamut is also larger with reactive inks meaning that the number of colour possibilities is larger, although this is improving with pigment inks.

1950s 50s style duvet cover

You will be unlikely to get a true dark black (or at least one which will remain black after washing) with pigment printed fabric, but as you can see from my photos the black ground on this print (which has been machine washed multiple times at 40 degrees) is still very black.

When fabric is pigment printed the ink is bonded to the surface of the fabric – it sits on top of the fibres and the colour does not actually penetrate the fabric.

I don’t know if any of you have ever sewn with a pigment printed fabric but I have often heard people complain that if they have had to unpick stitches in darker fabrics, the holes where the sewing needle has penetrated the fabric sometimes shows up since the ink hasn’t actually penetrated the fibres.

Often fabric that is pigment printed has to be washed at low temperatures and sometimes by hand or even dry cleaned to preserve the colour brightness which isn’t always convenient.

The extra cost of reactive printing is down to the equipment that the mills need to buy and the extra processes the fabric will need to go through to be printed.

I guess ultimately it comes down to personal choice and what is most important to the individual. In my case I choose reactive printing every time.

Despite the extra cost I feel the end result is worth it.

Atomic quilt cover

1950s 50s two tier lampshade

I also made a 2 tier lampshade to match the bedlinen. Luckily Ikea have been selling sheets and pillowcases in an orange that matched the orange in the print really well so I bought an extra pillowcase and cut it up to make the bottom tier.

The bedside lamps were originally from Ikea and had glass shades but one smashed when my husband punched it across the room one night in the middle of a bad dream (that’s a whole other funny story) I  bought 4 lampshade hoops that matched the diameter of the surviving shade and then made them up and they finish the room off nicely. 

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