Buying wholesale fabric doesn’t have to limit your choices as a designer. Today’s printing technology allows you to design beautiful custom pieces without any quantity restrictions.
However, there is still a lot to consider when designing a one-of-a-kind piece. Below we’ll take a look at printing options today, including trends and other customizations that can be added to your order so that you can create a stunning piece for your clients.
Custom Printing Options
Print services can bring fabric to life. Through the incorporation of vibrant colors and patterns, an upholstered sofa or room’s draperies can become statement pieces that reflect the tastes and personality of a client.
There are typically two types of custom fabric printing wholesale available:
- Rotary/flat bed printing
- Digital printing
Rotary/flat bed printing is a direct-to-fabric printing technique where the image is engraved on precision cut stencils, also known as screens. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design and can produce vivid colors and intricate patterns on your upholstery fabric.
Crisp lines and detailed images are created using screen printing, allowing ink to penetrate the fabric and hold color better and longer for a custom print.
Digital printing on fabric is also known as DTG, or direct-to-garment printing. A digital print is an ink-jet based method of printing colorants onto fabric. This printing process allows for lower minimums, eliminates screen charges and removes the need for screen storage.
A new trend is emerging where larger designs are printed onto larger rollers so corporations can brand their company or advertise their message.
Custom Printing Trends
Custom printing is a great way to reinvent and refresh a home or office. The simple addition of a new slipcover can turn an average sitting chair into a declaration on style. Even a few throw pillows can liven up a space.
Textural elements continue to be an important trend in design. Texture helps prevent a design from falling flat and can come in the form of mixed tones, unique designs like herringbone tiled floors and the incorporation of patterned wallpaper.
Of these textural elements, linen upholstery fabric is popular, especially when used for creating furniture pieces and even wallpaper. In today’s environmental crisis, natural linen fabric also brings a warm and inviting feel to a space without compromising sustainability. Linen is one of the most environmentally-friendly fabrics available, making it a top choice for clients whose design choices must align with their own personal goals and beliefs.
Reimagining design classics is another big trend in design. Your client may have a favorite chair or dining table that has been passed down through family generations, yet needs a modern boost. Slipcovers, tablecloths and reupholstery projects are a great way to incorporate punchier designs and patterns without changing the foundation of the beloved piece.
Look for bold patterns that incorporate outdoor elements like flowers and leaves, as well as colors like jewel tones, rust colors, and golden, earthy hues, to continue as well.
For outdoor living, a collection of coastal looks inspire dream getaways in clients’ own backyards. From oyster to sky blue, custom printing can offer a vacation look at home.
Other Customizations When Fabric Printing
The color and design of your fabric printing order aren’t the only choices you’ll need to make. The best wholesale fabric suppliers will work with you to make sure you take advantage of ALL of the customizations available to you, including these options below.
Manufacturers permanently add backing to fabric to help prevent seams from slipping and to boost durability. Your project will determine what type of backing that you need. If you’re designing furniture, you will want to consider latex backing since this type of coating helps prevent soil from sifting through the fabric.
Knit backing can help a lighter weight fabric hold up against everyday wear and tear. This type of backing allows you to consider fabrics like chenille or silks for projects that need more durability.
One of the most popular protective finishes used on fabric is a nano coating, or a very thin transparent plastic polymer film coating that helps to repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt. Other options include Scotchgard and Alta treatments, which protect the fabric against dirt and spills.
You can also opt to have manufacturers apply antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal treatments to prevent the buildup of bacteria, fungi and dust mites. These treatments are typically needed for design projects at schools, hospitals and outdoor environments.
If you are designing for customers in a commercial space, the fabric you use must meet a certain fire rating. For example, the state of California requires that furniture must comply with TB117-2013. This regulation requires that upholstery fabric pass smolder cigarette tests.
Fabrics used in public places must also meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law. If your design project involves work in the public sector (federal, state and local government buildings, hospitals, medical facilities, etc.), it’s important that the fabric you use meets fire codes.
Fire retardant applications are also often required under California law for public spaces. Fire retardant applications can be sprayed on or brushed on and help limit the spread of a fire. Rather than igniting, the fabric is protected under intense heat.
Finding The Right Wholesale Fabric Provider
The best wholesale fabric supplier will offer these customizations above as well as meet your quantity needs. As we mentioned at the beginning, today’s technology allows fabric providers to meet both customization and quantity needs. However, there’s an important note regarding this that you should be aware of when shopping for fabric.
There are distinct differences among the three places where you will typically look for fabric and printing services:
- Fabric retail stores
- Manufacturing company/supplier
- A fabric retailer will have a brick-and-mortar location that makes it easy to purchase what you need quickly. However, you’ll pay a higher price for your fabric and may not have access to the best quality fabrics because they often cater to a mass-market audience of casual consumers. You’re also much less likely to have printing customization opportunities at a fabric retailer since the retailer sells its fabric as-is.
- A fabric distributor is more likely to have the quantities of high-quality fabric that you need. However, you’ll still pay more to work with a distributor since the distributor purchases the fabric directly from the manufacturer. The distributor will then increase the price before selling it to a retailer or directly to a buyer.
- A fabric manufacturer or supplier is also more likely to have the quantities of high-quality fabric that you need. However, because you are skipping the retailer and distributor and going straight to the manufacturer for your materials, you can take advantage of a lower overall price because you won’t pay for the markups.
When looking for a fabric manufacturer or supplier to work with, make sure you NEVER rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. It is always better to request a free swatch so you can see the color in person and are more likely to receive the color you desire.
Dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. One solution to avoid this is to have your own custom dye lot created. This can help ensure your upholstery fabric features the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
Finally, it is important that you receive your order in a timely manner so you can meet your production deadline. A quality wholesale fabric supplier will work with you to determine an accurate timetable for receiving your order, even if you select customizations like fabric printing.