Tie-dye is versatile and popular, especially in the spring and summer. Who doesn’t want to wear all those swirling colors?! Whether you’re dying the shirt yourself or buying pre-dyed garments, you can screen print on it. Expert Colin Huggins shares tips and best practices for printing on tie-dyed garments.
Photo by Stark Screen Printing
TO DYE OR NOT TO DYE
While it’s easier to buy pre-dyed shirts from a distributor, sometimes customers will ask if they can dye their shirts afterward. Customers hosting events and excursions like field trips, Disneyland groups, etc. will ask about tie-dying shirts. As long as you cured the garment properly, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you plan to dye the shirts yourself, dye before you print.
Printing on tie-dye is like printing on polyester-blend apparel. The ink will bleed more easily than traditional cotton material. Tie-dyed fabric feels a little rougher than most garments. It has been handled and processed, so the shirt won’t feel as soft to the touch like a Bella + Canvas t-shirt.
You can use water-based or plastisol ink to print on a tie-dyed shirt. Because the dye in tie-dyed garments is not the same as what's used on standard cotton shirts, you’ll want to use a low-bleed ink and/or a low-cure ink. It’ll prevent dye migration.
Approach printing with tie-dye the way you’d approach printing on poly blend garments. Always run a test before printing the job to test for dye migration. Choose your white underbase wisely.
As always, be careful with the heat. Using a low-cure ink means that the ink will cure before dye migration happens. Cure at the lowest temperature possible while still reaching full cure.
Photo by Golden Press Studio
As with everything in screen printing, keep a close eye on your production. If you follow these best practices, you’re sure to get quality prints every time.