Custom Fabric Printing UK - The story so far.
Hello and welcome to the story of Custom Fabric Printing UK and the why…
Why have I decided to stick it out with reactive dye printing and not admit defeat months ago and go with the easier process of pigment printing. The simple answer is we need the bright banging prints you only get from reactive dye printing as well as the longevity of the print over the pigment process. Simply you can not get the colours, vibrancy and punch with pigment that you get with reactive (when it prints right!) I mean look at it its stunning!
It’s been marred with production issue, broken machines, flawed fabric, ink date expiry you name it, it’s happened. Reactive dye printing is not easy, it could have been easier if it had not been for these other issues, but it definitely built resilience.
Owning my own printer has always been a dream of mine. I looked into it in 2015 when I visited print wear and promotion (@PrintwearP #printwearandpromotion ) and saw all the wonderful machines that I could not afford! It was if I win the lottery if I ever become big enough… Then in 2020 I applied for #ScottishEDGE and never got through but I got an email and business life as we knew it changed forever!
In the midst of the pandemic lockdown I applied for and won a place in Unlocking Ambition and nothing has been the same since!
That’s the how we ended up here and this is the why.
I had to do a project about environmental impact and thought what my biggest challenge as a business and it was a quick high quality and consistent supply of cotton jersey. Every month or so I would run out of a print and although I only needed 1/2 metres, I would have to order 60 metres to justify the shipping (at such small volumes shipping costs is as much as the fabric itself).
Nowhere in the UK was offering reactive dye printing at a small enough volume for me to justify and that meant my only option was China and the carbon footprint that goes with shipping small volumes.
We had 2 weeks (over Christmas) to get all the testing done, let’s just say nothing went according to plan but I did the presentation, and TCS-eco secured the deposit and an additional impact fund for 10 of the best projects (out of the 40 submitted), woo hoo!
With this funding my project took shape and I thought if this is a challenge for me then it’s a challenge for EVERY other small business or hobby sewer out there. We want lovely prints; we want them now, but we don’t want 10 metre minimum order volumes and we don’t want to wait weeks for the delivery.
Buying from UK Based businesses that import form China or Europe can be advertised as a 10 day turn around but that’s if you order at the right point in the month (hidden away in the T&C) if you order from them the day after the UK based supplier orders placed their order, you have a month and 10 days (6 weeks) to wait for it to arrive and then wait for it to be processed and posted, you have ticked that box, paid your money and then you have to wait!
This is the most frustrating bit, this bit where you have paid out a lot of money and have nothing to show for it, that's why I dreamt of printing my own and I thought, I can offer these services to other businesses as well and custom fabric printing UK was born.
Read blog 2 for the story of reactive versus pigment, its painful.