I think we all agree that having a pre-printed design outline on our fabric is just soooo much nicer than a wobbly pencil line but how many of you actually realise what is involved in getting that outline there?
Well I can tell you that from my point of view it is not a simple task. Although it does not require copious trips up and down the stairs it does involve many trips to the screen printers, on my hands and knees trying to explain the validity of my request to have the job done yesterday! You see my screen printer is one of those arty farty surfer dude types who would rather be down at the beach on his surf board than doing the job, and although charming with is long hair and surfer shorts has a very relaxed and laid back attitude. You know why they call Cape Town the “Mother City” don’t you? Well its because everyone is always expecting – “expecting it to be ready tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”!! So you get the jist?
To get the outline printed onto fabric, I have to first trace it onto tracing paper, with a fine micron black pen and steady hand (?) – scan it into my computer and save it in a compatible file for the printer. I then email it to him about 5 times before he finally acknowledges that he has received it and he then makes a film positive which is similar to a transparency with the design printed on.
This film is then coated with a photosensitive emulsion. When the screen is dry it is placed on a vacuum light table and exposed to a special light. This screen is now blocked and taped ready to be used for printing – to put it simply the outline is burned into the fabric.
This is where Lorna comes in – Lorna is the lady who actually processes the printing. She is an absolute star and the (real) boss of the company. I always go armed with a box of biscuits or something to charm her up and get my work pushed ahead of all the others that are “expecting” their jobs done tomorrow:)
I should probably mention that each piece of fabric has to be the exact same size otherwise the print would end up all over the place – so I import the fabric from the UK ready cut into exact sizes ready for print. Initially it took a few weeks to get the exact grey colour line that we needed for the outline – at first it was too black (hard to cover with stitching) and then it was too pale and after many tries we finally got it just right.
And there you have it from design outline to screen printed fabric!
Best wishes Trish