Fabric Designs

The designs created on the fabric plays an important part in making the fabric more beautiful and more fashionable. It reflects the craftsmanship as well as the customs or culture of the wearer. It varies from small geometrical patterns to pictured designs. Sometimes it is also designed with religious figures for religious purposes.

Fabric design is one of the oldest and most functional forms of decorative art. It dates back to 3000 B.C. People in ancient world wore patterned cloth. In the beginning, patterned cloths were manufactured by hand. In 1712, George Leason founded automated cotton printing works in Boston.

Types of Fabric Design

Batik Fabric

Dyed Fabric

Embroidered Fabric

Painted Fabric

Printed Fabric


1- Batik Fabric

Batik Fabric – It is a method of dyeing fabric where wax or glue paste is used cover those areas on the fabric which is to be undyed. Later on the wax is taken off by boiling.

Batik is an art that applies specialized method to dye the fabric, commonly cotton or silk. The popular batik patterns are flowers, plants, birds, animals, insects and some of the geometric forms. There are more than 3,000 of such designs or patterns. The invention of computer has added more new and exciting patterns to the existing collections.

The word batik is believed to be originated from the word ‘ambatik’, meaning ‘a cloth with little dots’. ‘Tik’ also mean little dot, drop, point or to make dots. It is also thought that, batik may have been derived from the Javanese (in Java) word ‘tritik’ which means a dying process where the patterns are done after tying and sewing the areas. It was similar to tie dye techniques.

True origin of batik is a mystery. Evidence of batik has been found some 2000 years ago in Middle East, India and Central Asia. Batik is most prevalent on the Indonesian Island of Java. The batik of Indonesia is unique and unparalleled.

Today, Malaysia and Indonesia is leading in batik industry. The industry is also thriving in the Philippines, Thailand, Germany, Dutch, China and some of the African countries. The finest batik cloth is still made in Java, Indonesia.

Batik Process

In the batik process, the area where the pattern is to be done is not painted. Instead, wax is applied to the area which has to go pattern-less. The fabric is then immersed in dye. The area, which is wax-free, gets colored. The fabric is dried and then heated to remove the wax from the fabric. The more number of colors the fabric has, the process has to be repeated.

The ancient method of batik process involved drawing on the cloth with a wooden pen and then wax it, known as ‘canting’. But with the rise of Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, large copper stamps, or ‘caps’ was developed, which allowed for large scale application of wax. Previously, batik fabrics and garments were worn by upper class people only but today it is available for general population.

Batik Methods

There are different ways to create batik. The splash processes of batik splashes or pours the wax onto the cloth. Stencil is used in screen-printing process of batik. The hand painting is done with the help of a pen filled with wax. Scratch and starch resist is some of the other methods involved in batik painting.

Uses of Batik

Batik is widely used to apparel, home furnishing, canvas, wall hangings, tablecloths, scarves and household accessories. Batik sarees are very popular in India as well as around the world. Batik paintings by artists grace homes and offices.

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2- Dyed Fabric

Dyed Fabric – In this process the fabric is dyed with a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to the fabric it is applied to.

Dyed fabric is the fabric, which has been made from the colored fibers. It is colored by substances, which has an affinity to the substrate to the fabric it is applied to. These dyes are obtained from animal, vegetable or mineral origin with no or very little processing.

Animal origin dyes are like Tyrian purple, Kermes, cochineal. Vegetable origin dyes are contributed by safflower, turmeric, indigo, woad, alizarin (madder), logwood, etc. Iron buff is a good example of inorganic dyes.

Mauveine was the first man made organic dye discovered by William Henry Perkin in 1856. Uncountable number of dyes have since then been prepared improving the properties with every attempt. The fastness of the color and its permanency depends upon the dye and the process used.

Types of dyeing process

Acid dye – In this process, water-soluble anionic dyes are applied to fibers from neutral to acid dyebaths. Usually fibers of silk, wool, nylon and modified acrylic are dyed.

Basic dye – Water soluble cationic dyes are applied mainly to acrylic, wool and silk fibers.

Direct (substantive) dye – This process uses either sodium chloride or sodium sulphate in neutral or little alkaline dyebath. Usually cotton, paper, leather, wool, silk and nylon is dyed.

Mordent dye – The process requires the use of mordent (a dyeing substance) to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber like water, light and perspiration fastness.

Vat dye – This dye is insoluble in water and does not dye fiber directly. Reduction in alkaline liquor gives the water soluble alkali metal salt of the dye. This form dyes the textile fiber.

Reactive dye – This dye contain a reactive group, haloheterocycle or activated double bond. It is applied to the fiber in a weakly alkaline dyebath, which forms a chemical bond with an hydroxyl group on the cellulosic fiber.

Disperse dye – A substantially water insoluble, developed for dyeing cellulose acetate. The dyes are ground finely in the presence of a dispersing agent. It is in the form of paste, spray dried, or powders. It is used to dye nylon, triacetate, polyester and acrylic fibers.

Azoic dye – An insoluble azo dye is produced directly onto or within the fiber in this process. This is achieved by the treatment with a diazo component and a coupling component.

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3- Embroidered Fabric

Embroidered Fabric – Ornamental needlework is applied to the fabric creating patterns

Embroidered fabric is made by stitching strands of a material on another material layer to give a decorative designs and patterns. Embroidery is done to decorate clothing and household furnishings like table linens, tray cloths, towels and bedding. It is also used as a form of art through the creation of pictures in tapestries and wall hangings.

Most embroidery is done by using thread or wool stitched onto a woven fabric. Traditionally embroidery was done by hand but now it is also machine embroidered. Machine embroidery can be used for both, creative work on individual pieces as well as for mass produced clothing products. Literally any evenly woven fabric can be embroidered.

The use of embroidered fabric dates back to 3000 BC in Egypt. Since then different culture has contributed their unique designs and technique. The Chinese mastered in silk-thread embroidery. Scandinavians counted techniques like Hardanger in evenweave fabrics. Indians elaborated in gold and metal embroideries where as Italians crafted delicate laces and cutwork.

Types of Embroidered Fabric

Assisi Embroidery – It is counted thread embroidery from Italian town of Assisi started in the 13th century. It is also known as voiding, a negative embroidery, where background is filled while the motif is left blank.

Bargello or Florentine Embroidery – This is also called Flame stitch, which uses a unique stepped satin stitch.

Blackwork Embroidery – This is a simple form of embroidery where black thread is used on white or off-white fabric.

Bunka Sishu – This is a Japanese embroidery style originating in the 20th century. It creates very detailed pictures, which looks like oil paintings.

Canvas Work – This is embroidery on canvas.

Counted-thread Embroidery – This produces a symmetrical image because the warp and weft fabric threads are evenly spaced. Evenweave fabric is usually used and the fabric threads are counted by the embroidered before starting the embroidery.

Crewel Embroidery – This is at least a thousand years old. The word crewel is derived from the curl in the staple of the wool. Crewel wool has a long staple and can be strongly twisted apart from its being fine. It is free style embroidery.

Cross-Stitch – This is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery where X-shaped are used to form a picture. Other stitches like ¼, ½ and ¾ are also termed as cross-stitch.

Drawn Thread Work – This is also a form of counted-thread embroidery, but here the threads from the warp and the weft of even weave fabric piece is removed and are grouped or bundled together into a variety of patterns.

Goldwork Embroidery – The use of gold upon the fabric.

Hardanger Embroidery – This is a form of embroidery which is worked in white yarn of a colored Hardanger cloth by using drawn thread work.

Whitework Embroidery – This is white embroidery done on white material in mercerized cottons.

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4- Painted Fabric

Painting on fabrics are a very old method of decorating the cloths made. It is done by hand. Painted fabric is popular in wall hangings, tablecloths and bedsheets. Different patterns in different colors are painted to add to the decor of the room.
Garments are also painted to enhance the beauty of the cloth.

Patterns of Painted Fabric

  • Floral
  • Geometric
  • Religious

Usually floral designs are popular. In wall hangings, religious figures are also painted and used for religious occasions.

Uses of Painted Fabric

  • Wall hangings
  • Table cloths
  • Garments
  • Upholstery

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5- Printed Fabric

Printed Fabric – This is a fabric on which a pattern is printed with an ink or dye.

A printed fabric has a pattern printed on it either with ink or dye. It is usually a flat fabric woven from a variety of threads such as acrylics, nylons, cottons and polyesters cotton. The fabric is tightly woven with rich woven designs and patterns. It adds color and glamour to the fabrics with bright printed floral or subtle replicating patterns, simple earth tones or fake fur fluorescent.

Printed fabric is a traditional choice for upholstered furniture. The printed designs are usually associated with thinner and delicate fabrics. It is the mainstay of the garment and soft furnishings industries.

Types of Printing

Block printing – It was first developed in China. In this type of printing the carvers use to carve fine work on wooden block and then cover it with ink. The wood is pressed upon the fabric to create duplicate pattern of the original.

Roller printing – In this type of printing, the fabric is fed into a giant set of rollers where a one of the rollers continually imparted a design on the fabric as it rolled past. Usually vertical lines are created on the fabric by this process.

Pigment printing – This is the process where pigment is used for printing.

Copperplate printing – This process was used on silk which is a pattern printed by disposition. Pen is available in fabric stores that is used to draw on paper and then set the paper over the fabric and press it with hot iron. New technique use paper that is run through an inkjet printer and then ironed on to fabric.

Dye sublimation – In this process, an image is digitally printed in reverse with a special type of dye sublimation toners or inks onto regular media. The image is placed on top of polyester. In scientific terms, a material is directly converted into a gaseous state from solid dying the threads.

Direct printing – This is a type of digital printing to fabric which accepts the ink from inkjet coated printer similar to inkjet paper.

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