Best way to put an image on dress?
March 22, 2010 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Best way to put an image on dress: screen printing or fusible interfacing and machine sewing?

I am interested in making some simple dress designs of mine more exciting by adding images to the lower skirt area. These would be black or grey designs on bright, neon-colored dresses.

Of the following options, which would last longer: Having the image screen printed on the dress or cutting the image from pre-shrunk fabric then using fusible interfacing and machine sewing to attach it? I have only tried screen printing once and failed horribly, but I'd give it another try if I knew it would give me a better quality product. I assume professional screen printing would be the best option, but I'd be DIYing it. ;) Maaaaay not hold up as well.

Are there other options I'm not thinking of?

Thanks so much for your input!
posted by jaynedanger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you doing a one-off or a production run?

If doing a one off, you could applique or do a freezer paper stencil technique. For the applique, you'd want a fusible web and/or a stabilizer not interfacing. Make sure the fusible is the right kind for your fabric. (woven or knit) Woven fabric will be easier to applique on; you won't need the stabilizer.

If you're making more than a few of these designs, screen printing would be the way to go. Although, I don't find any difference in longevity between my freezer paper stencil designs and screen printed ones. The stenciled designs are not as crisp looking as the screen printing though. That may not be an issue if you're going for a certain DIY look.

There are good ideas for surface design on textiles in the books Lotta Prints, Printing by Hand and Bend The Rules with Fabric including block printing, stenciling, screen printing, photo transfers, bleach pen drawing, embroidery etc...
posted by vespabelle at 4:30 PM on March 22, 2010

I imagine that screen printing would hold up a littler better; just think of how long the images on t-shirts last. I wonder if sewing something on -- especially something that is backed with interfacing -- would interfere somewhat with the way the skirt flows and drapes. This would depend on what the fabric the dress is made of, though. I have a heavy denim skirt with several pieces of fabric sewn on to it, and it is fine. I think you will run into problems with a lighter fabric, though.

Depending on how intricate the design is, you could try block printing it on or stenciling it on. Freezer paper stenciling is very easy to do but can be time-consuming if you are doing several dresses with the same design, as you'd need a new stencil for each dress. Embroidery is another idea, but this can be super time-consuming (though it produces beautiful results).
posted by kitty teeth at 4:31 PM on March 22, 2010

I had never heard of the freezer paper technique. I will look into that! Thanks!
posted by jaynedanger at 4:33 PM on March 22, 2010

I came to recommend freezer paper stenciling too.

Depending on the complexity of your images, the applique idea could be a pain- having to sew around lots of curves and corners could make it lumpy even if it's fused to the fabric. It would also have a substantially different look than a screen printed/stenciled design. But that could be the look you want.
posted by doift at 4:35 PM on March 22, 2010

I have never tried screen printing but have enjoyed using applique. This is an excellent tutorial from one of my favorite craft gurus on getting started with applique.

Or you could use reverse applique, which is even easier. There are a variety of ways to do it, depending on how polished you want the finished product to look and how many colors you want to use, but I just put a leaf design on a skirt using these instructions and it turned out great first time.
posted by stuck on an island at 7:55 AM on March 23, 2010

Love all of the tutorials. Thanks so much for the help! I'm actually going to try out a few of these methods.
posted by jaynedanger at 5:54 PM on March 24, 2010

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