Arthur Gauthier, co-owner, Fabric4You.com, celebrates a blossoming 20 year career in the fashion and clothing business. His latest endeavor—Fabric4You.com—is an online shop offering quilters, clothing designers, interior designers, and everyday sewers the ability to order customized fabrics.
Fabric4you.com produces short runs on quality material using pigment dye ink and any natural fiber including cotton, linen, silk, and viscose. Customers choose fabric according to intended end use. Each media requires a different and specific technique. “Certain variables such as how the fabric accepts the ink, curing temperatures, washing instructions, and the fabric supplier themselves play major roles in our choice of fabric,” explains Gauthier. Pacific Coast Fabrics supplies the majority of the company’s material.
Running several operations out of an 8,000 square foot facility in Millersville, MD, Gauthier prints on a 64-inch Mutoh America, Inc. ValueJet 1628TD, and cures the fabric with a Graphics One, LLC (GO) Kala Calendar DS67 roll press.
Using pressure, temperature, and time, the GO Kala cures natural fabrics and sublimates material for various uses such as t-shirts, shorts, and jerseys. Though more expansive than a heat box, which only has the ability to cure direct to fabric fixation, it offers added versatility.
Challenge of Achieving Color
Colors are changed or replaced by simply setting the printer, but matching hues is the real test. “The biggest challenge of digital textile printing is getting the color right and duplicating that color again months later,” shares Gauthier.
“We create profiles for all fabrics we use so that colors are consistent across the board,” says Gauthier. Through profiling he keeps specific color values to a high standard between different media types. “CMYK, RGB, or LAB values offer different shades. When similar artwork is inconsistent with color values, it becomes difficult to determine the color,” he continues.
Fabric4You.com uses ErgoSoft AG TexPrint 14 RIP software to achieve necessary coloration. “We also have an i1 X-Rite, Incorporated spectrophotometer that allows us to try to match a color exactly by placing it directly on an item—say, a blue shirt,” explains Gauthier
Many times, change in coloration is done on the image file manually, and it is not always easy to get the printer and ink to read the file exactly as one wants. “There is a big learning curve and it involves a lot of trial and error,” cautions Gauthier.