Testing fabrication methods for custom print garments
with Amber Guo and Phoebe Cai
We tested many methods for fabricating personalized data garments for Dressed in Data: Green Housing Study. Here are some notes on the processes we tried and their successes and failures.
Special supplies: inkodye; inkodye wash; bucket; gloves; straight pins or tape; cotton fabric; cardboard; optional: print objects, photo paper, spray bottle
Notes: Dye works best on cottons or other natural fibers; synthetics do not take the dye well. Colors are often pastel shades and may not appear on darker fabrics.
Verdict: Work in progress. Best for pastel or muted colors. Not an ideal choice for fabrication during a New England winter (N.B. this can be done inside with a UV lamp).
Special supplies: Photo printer, Teflon Sheet, Iron (350 degrees and above), Vinyl cutter (or X-ACTO knife)
Notes: Does not work with laser/high-heat printers.
Verdict: Work in progress. Best when used with the vinyl cutter.
Special supplies: thermochromatic pigment, screen printing ink
Notes: Body heat is sufficient for color changing. Test with white ink first to see full range of color change. Pigment can be used in different amounts to create a gradient of color intensities.
Verdict: Work in progress. Interesting approach that requires further testing (e.g. with screen printing) and an exploration of appropriate applications.
Stencil sticker painting: screen printing without a screen
Special supplies: laser cutter/vinyl cutter/scissors, paintbrushes, fabric paint, vinyl sticker paper
Notes: This is similar to screen printing in that it uses a negative stencil, but unlike screen printing, it does not use a screen to apply the ink. Because of this the ink may be uneven or gloppy. Additionally, it may be difficult to keep the ink within the stencil; laser cutting tends to burn the stencil edges which then do not adhere well to transfer tape and to the shirt. A vinyl cut stencil may be more effective.
Verdict: Less than ideal. Can be used for testing initial prototypes before making a full investment in silk screening. Vinyl cut stickers can be great for personalizing phone cases, computers, or many other things!
Special supplies: stencil, simply spray stencil spray paint
Notes: the spray came out as an inconsistent drip and ran out quickly. The spray drenched the paper stencil as well as the fabric underneath, without effectively filling in the design.
Verdict: Difficult to manage and ineffective. Do not use this!