printing methods for canvas

Fabric Printing Methods for Canvas

Canvas Corp specializes in blank fabric items that are perfect for a wide range of printing methods. We thought it would be fun to explore the various types of printing methods and how they look on a wide range of canvas blank surfaces.  Many of the customers we work with start with a great idea for a new printed product, but many of them don’t realize all the options and choices they have when it comes to creating or having someone else bring their idea to life, while other customers have been in the fabric printing business for a long time and they are not always aware of the new blank surfaces that might be a perfect fit for their customers, so let’s explore together.

Screen Printing (Silk Screening) – push ink onto a surface through one or more prepared fine mesh screens to create words, pictures or a design.   Most screen print machines allow up to 6 screens.  Each color has its own screen so the more colors, the most screens the higher the cost.  The benefits of screen printing are the high quality results, the permanent nature of finished product and the durability of the product.

You can also screen print onto a more diverse group of surfaces including textured canvas, burlap and even wood.  You will need to choose an ink color for each of the colors in your design, as the process does not mix them like a printer does to create a process color print.  You can also do your own screen printing by making your own screens or using Screen Stencils  like these Martha Stewart Screen Stencils.  A version of screen printing is to do so with a resist ink that is generally clear on lighter fabrics or black on black fabrics.  You can print an all over print or specific design and once dry you can paint or dye the item and the area printed with the resist will appear.

Screen printing on burlap

Screen Printing is a great option when you want to print on a textured surface such as this burlap and canvas French Market Bag by Canvas Corp – bag created for the Renegade Craft Fairs

Embroidery – creating words, art or a logo with stitched thread.  Generally done with an embroidery machine, but the technique can be done by hand.  The treads can be standard colors or you can choose metallic and specialty threads.  The embroidered design becomes a permanent part of the surfaces and is very durable.  The limitations of embroidery are the lack of detail you can get in the actual finished design, the higher cost when using multiple colors, the surface design must allow the machine to move around to apply the design, so there are some limitations.

embroidery on canvas apron - custom apron ideas

You can also monogram your garments with embroidery or any of the other printing method.

Monogram blank aprons for bridesmaid gifts, children’s parties or for a cooking class

Direct to Garment Printing or DTG – is a process of printing on fabric using a specialized inkjet technology.  This technology allows you to print in full color without the need for screens and separate inks with a soft finish as the print becomes part of the fabric.  This technology works the best with smooth, soft fabrics and there is little to no set up, so you can print fewer pieces in many cases.  The DTG process allows the colors to be softer and look as if they were part of the fabric verses sitting on top of the fabric.

One of the benefits of offering both the surfaces and printing options, Canvas Corp can print the garment before it is made like we did with the Scrapbook Expo apron pockets, which were sewn on after the print was done.

Vinyl Printing  – perfect for small runs with as few as 1 piece as an option.  The set up time is much quicker than other printing processes.  Think of it as creating one piece at a time, but the end result is durable like screen printing with professional results.  You can create custom designs using any graphic software or scan in custom art, you print the art and then cut the vinyl by hand or with a machine.  The vinyl designs are generally one color printing unless you do two or more layers, one at a time.  You heat press the art onto the shirt to cure the art and you have a custom, high quality design.  You can also apply vinyl to a wide range of surfaces, making it more flexible than other printing options.


Heat Transfer Printing – This method requires you to print the design onto a flexible non-textile surfaces and then transfer it to the fabric with heat.  You can print a large quantity of transfer designs and set them all at once or keep them on hand to apply as needed, allowing you to produce your finished goods very quickly once the design work is done.  This is also a good option for shorter run projects that you plan to repeat.  You can produce a relatively detailed and complex design with this process.  While some processes are ideal for cotton and natural based fabrics, this process is a great choice for synthetic materials such as polyester.

Dye Sublimation Printing – This is a great alternative when you are looking for a way to create small run rolled goods to create your own fabric.  The unique heat sensitive inks are applied to the fabric and become part of the fabric.  The machines are expensive, so outsourcing this method may be the best option.

Hand-Painting  – You can convert your art into any of the above printing process to get the look you are going for and repeat the production of the piece, but if you are going for a hand-made look, consider hand-painting each pieces or screen printing the outline and hand-painting the color onto the piece.  You can also hand-paint over the color with textured fabric paint to give it a unique look.  Be sure to use a paint that was designed to use on fabric or add a medium that converts your paint to a fabric paint and follow the instructions on how to seal or finish the piece for best results.  You can hand-paint your own designs like this adorable deer by Lucy at Craftberry Bush or print the outline and color each one in and wow the art looks amazing on the canvas pillows.

Stamping, Stenciling or Block Printing  – You can apply art with a stamp, through a stencil or a larger block that you repeat to get a great allover look.  Using a fabric or pigment based ink you can make your own fabric or design for your product or brand that allows it to stand out.  There are blank stencil sheets that you can cut our the design, making it easy to stencil more than one piece at a time.  Order pre-made stamps or hand-carve them to get a very unique and one of a kind look.

So if you are looking for ways to bring your art, ideas or brand to life, choose unique surfaces such as aprons, pillows, trendy totes, zipper totes, etc. and then pick the print process that is right for you.  You can also print your art on single panels and turn them into art of their own or cut and sew them into products for your brand.

There are so  many options and the team at Canvas Corp would love to help in anyway with helping you find just the right blank surface, the best fabric for your project, suggest printing options and in some cases produce the entire project for you.  We love to support our local shops and suggest you do too, if your local printers do not have some of the surfaces that Canvas Corp offers, you can buy them blank or suggest to your printer that they contact them direction.

You can shop local for many of the processes or let Canvas Corp quote you on screen printing your art or putting you together why a high quality customized printer that can help bring your vision to life.

Screen printing on t-shirts has been done for a very long time and now Canvas Corp offers a wide range of blanks you can print your way… banners, pennants, backpacks, pillows, pillow shams, tree skirts, stockings, placemats, table runners, adult aprons, children’s aprons, books, bookmarks, eyeglass cases, tote bags, sacks, wall hangings, wine bags, treat bags, napkins, chargers, baskets, plant holders, coasters, bread bags, shopping bags, book covers, portfolios, purses, zipper totes, stretched canvas, saggy baggies, trick or treat bags, santa bags, gift bags, give away bags, makeup brush holders, pencil holders, craft holders, puppets…..and the list goes on.

Give us a call today to discuss creating a custom tote, apron, craft or home decor item for your business, brand, office, school, Etsy shop or local gallery.  Creating affordable items that represent your brand is a great way to expand your brand through premium advertising, selling items, creating unique shopping bag for retail sales or combining them with other items.






Canvas Corp Brands is the home of Tattered Angels, 7Gypsies and Canvas Corp (Canvas Home Basics). We are a manufacturer of surfaces, paint and vintage reproductions coming to you from Springdale, Arkansas.

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This blog is a compilation of inspiration from the Canvas Corp Brands family including Canvas Corp, Tattered Angels and 7Gypsies.