Color in T-shirt screen printing is very important, especially when working with unusual materials such as organic fibers and water-based inks. These will need to be taken into account when planning the design for t-shirt printing. The color of the fabric is very important because it will affect the appearance of the design.

Dark colored fabrics are more difficult to screen-print for T-shirts. The darkness of the fabric dye affects the appearance of the ink colors when they are absorbed into the fibers and embedded during the curing process.

How to screen print t-shirts with fiber reactive dyes

Fiber reactive dyes are permanent fabric dyes. They do not wash off or fade easily. That is why it will be difficult to apply a simple technique, unless the process involves a more complex color separation method.

You will need to discharge the fiber reactive dye from the area of ​​the fabric where you plan to print your design. Use bleach thickeners, such as Monogum or liquid detergents, mixed with household bleach, or use the Clorox Bleaching Pen to bleed the colored area.

When the area has been bleed to a lighter color, it is ready for the printing process. Before applying ink to fabric, make sure the area has been neutralized, rinsed, and dried. You can cure the design by heating or air drying.

Using Fiber Reactive Dyes for Screen Printing T-shirt Designs

Although fiber reactive dyes are used to dye fabric, they can also be used to print the design on white cotton T-shirts. Like water-based inks, fiber-reactive dyes have a smooth feel. They also do not fade or wash off easily.

The fabric can be dipped, sprayed or dye painted. It can also be selectively dipped in a dye bath as in tie-dying or batik. For screen printing, the dyes will need to be mixed with sodium alginate to thicken it to the same consistency as T-shirt screen printing inks. Without the thickener, the dyes will just flow through the mesh.

Other t-shirt printing methods for use with fiber reactive dyes

When you know the t-shirts are made from fabrics dyed with fiber reactive dyes, you’re much more prepared to use plastisol-coated heat transfer vinyl, laser- or inkjet-ready heat transfer papers, or direct-to-garment digital screen printing.

Heat transfer can add more character to the design, especially when you need to personalize the shirt with names, people, or organizations. You can also use arts and crafts supplies like glitter, sequins, and beads to add pizzazz and glam to your T-shirt design. The t-shirt screen printing process is so easy to do that you can work with your kids on this project.