As I’ve written before on the site, I have become a fan of discharge screen printing, but sometimes the results can be unpredictable. For example, I printed a whole batch of American Apparel jersey cotton t-shirts. Most of them came out to a light brown color, but some came out blue.
Discharge printing works by removing the dye from the fabric, and it really works only on all-cotton shirts. It sometimes works on poly-cotton blends, but you might not get the results you wanted. I was tasked with printing some more shirts for the softball team sponsored by Bar Matchless in Brooklyn.
The team selected a poly-cotton shirt in heather blue denim made by Tultex.
They didn’t have any specific instructions in terms of print color. I was allowed to do what I wanted. At first, white seemed like a good choice, but I didn’t like the result. It looked like I had printed on top of the shirt, instead of printing in the shirt. Also, black seemed to fade away into a low contrast color. (Please excuse the poor white balance.)
The black might look a little gold to you, but trust me, it’s not. It’s the similar effect of that white-gold/blue-black dress meme from a couple of years ago.
I tried a series of different colors, including clear discharge. This “ink” removed the dye from the fabric but does not add any color. I was concerned whether this would work with a poly-cotton shirts that was dyed blue, but the results looked great.
You can see that the natural color of the fabric complements the heather blue denim color really well, certainly much better than what I saw in my tests using white ink or black ink.
Here’s a look at the whole print on the shirt:
This example reinforces something I’ve learned over the years. Order a bunch of extra blank shirts to run test prints. You might be surprised how well one combination might work.