In a sense, fabric printing is more or less the same as fabric dyeing. Both involve coloring agents to give fabric different hues and shades. However, there is one principle difference between the two. Dyeing requires techniques that allow the fabric to be colored as a whole. The color would be solid, uniformly spread across the fabric. Printing is a technique of coloring the fabric by following a clearly defined design or pattern. It gives the fabric more palpable taste and style. It also allows artisans to get creative on the medium they are working with whereas dyeing only makes the fabric turn from plain white to having some colors on it. The technique of fabric printing is an old form of art that has been known to human for a long time. Traditionally speaking, this technique can be separated into four major styles. The first is direct printing. With this style, pattern is drawn on fabric and colorants (containing thickeners, dyes, and mordant or other substances that work as the fixer for the color) are applied to the design directly. The second style involves the mordant being printed on a pattern first before fabric dyeing process. The color will only stick to the cloth after the mordant is applied.
The next printing fabric style is resist dyeing. This style involves the use of wax. The wax would be applied on the fabric following a pattern. The wax does not accept the dye so when the fabric dyeing process completes, the areas treated with the wax will not display color. This helps create a pattern that is more defined as the uncolored areas are left right along with the colored ones.
The last textile printing style is discharge printing. With this style, fabric that is already dyed will be treated with a bleaching agent following a pattern. The bleaching agent will remove parts of the dye, leaving pattern printed on the fabric. Both resist and discharge styles were quite common in 19th century. Modern industries commonly use direct printing style. Printing on fabric is a delicate matter that requires several steps to be done prior to getting the final results. The steps need to be followed thoroughly and properly so as to prevent getting a product that is not on its best conditions. Both traditional and modern printing industries follow more or less similar steps before offering the products to buyers.