Color Designs in Cloth
It is thought that the earliest attempts at making "fancy materials" consisted in painting designs on a fabric by means of a brush. In more recent times the design was cut in relief on hard wood, the relief being then daubed with coloring matter and applied by hand to successive portions of the cloth. The most modern method of design-making is that of machine or roller printing. In this, the relief blocks are replaced by engraved copper rolls which rotate continuously and in the course of their rotation automatically receive coloring matter on the engraved portion. The cloth is to be printed is then drawn uniformly over the rotating roll, receiving color from the engraved design; in this way, the color pattern is automatically printed on the cloth with perfect regularity. In cases where the fabrics do not unite directly with the coloring matter, the design is supplied with a mordant and the impression made on the fabric is that of the mordant; when the fabric is later transferred to a dye bath, the mordanted portions, represented by the design, unite with the coloring matter and thus form the desired color patterns.
Unless the printing is well done, the coloring matter does not thoroughly penetrate the material, and only a faint blurred design appears on the back of the cloth; the gaudy designs of cheap calicoes and ginghams often do not show at all on the under side. Such carelessly made prints are not fast to washing or light, and soon fade. But in the better grades of material the printing is well done, and the color designs are fairly fast, and a little care in the laundry suffices to eliminate any danger of fading.
Color designs of the greatest durability are produced by the weaving together of colored yarns. When yarn is dyed, the coloring matter penetrates to every part of the fiber, and hence the patterns formed by the weaving together of well-dyed yarns are very fast to light and water.
If the color designs to be woven in the cloth are intricate, complex machinery is necessary and skillful handwork; hence, patterns formed by the weaving of colored yarns are expensive and less common than printed fabrics.