Printing on fabric

I wanted to print on some canvas for a project and am wondering what type of ink would work best for the fabric, but also the press….

Any suggestions? Ideally the ink should be able to withstand the washing machine.

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I assume that you are going to use photopolymer plates? Using handset type is to be discouraged because of the tremendous wear it will suffer printing the rough surface of the canvas.

In times past, the printing of linen and canvas sacks (feed and grain sacks, flour sacks, etc.) was accomplished via letterpress, BUT the type and plates where generally iron, which would hold-up while printing the fabrics. I have several fonts of iron type that were used specifically for that purpose.

yes… i would use polymer. any thoughts on the ink?


Can’t help you out on the ink, but hopefully someone will have some useful information.

I’ve had pretty good success using Van Son Rubber Base with dryer — you definitely want an ink with dryer. Oil base ink probably would be somewhat more impervious to scuffing or damage from washing. Depending on what size piece of fabric you’re printing on, a hand press or large proof press would be your best choice. I printed on aprons with an Ostrander-Seymour hand press and with my Poco, but getting the extra fabric out of the way was more difficult with the Poco.

I’ve printed on fabric from time to time…. and always found Silk Screening to be more applicable for that use.

Just for fun I printed on some t-shirts with a mag block w/ a Kelsey 3x5. Press is small enough to slip the shirt over.

Printed on the shirt pocket area. Came out really nice looking, crisp even; but the ink (water based) washed away.

I wonder if a rubber plate, such as used for rubber stamps and for certain kinds of flexo might be good—if the detail is not too fine. I remember printing on paper napkins with rubber plates a good while ago. Keep us posted on your results—it would be a good thing to know.

i would try the silk screening inks which are made specifically for fabrics. may have to be heated to set if i remember correctly, maybe just have to iron with a non- stick paper between image after printing and before washing?