Let's Talk Fabric Vibrancy!

Let's Talk Fabric Vibrancy!

There are millions of ways to dye fabrics! Vat Dying, Digital Inkjet Dying, Disperse Dying, Sublimation... the list goes on and on. Here at WayMaker, we use a combination of Sublimation and Digital Printing to transfer our designs to our fabric bases. But how does the different dying processes effect vibrancy on our wide array of fabric bases? 

Let's dye-ve into the process!


First Things First: Dye Sublimation vs Digital Printing

Dye sublimation

Dye sublimation is strictly for synthetic fibers, like polyester. WayMaker Fabrics prints the design onto a clay paper, and then transfers the design to the fabric using a heat press. (It's like a giant T-Shirt Iron On!) Currently, we offer 3 polyester bases: Athletic Knit, Jersey, and Stretch Twill.

The Athletic Knit and the Jersey need to be exclusively dye sublimated, but because of the cotton content in the Stretch Twill, it can be printed on Digitally, or dye sublimated.

Digital Printing

We use Digital Printing to print on natural fibers. Think Cotton, Modal, Rayon. With Digital Printing, the design is printed directly onto the fabric! This process works like a home printer, just a much larger scale. Tiny ink droplets are sprayed on the fabric to produce the desired color and image. Once the design has printed, we use the same heat press to seal the ink into the fabric. Until it is heat set, the ink can be washed out in a normal wash cycle. Pictured is our Cracked Ice design and is printed on Modal French Terry.

Color Vibrancy Depends on Fabric Bases!

As of February 2024, WayMaker Fabrics offers 11 unique base fabrics! We're always interested in adding fabrics, so check our website waymakerfabrics.com to see if we have added any since you found this blog.

Each of our base fabrics reflect color vibrancy differently. This is due to fiber density, fiber content, and the weave or knit of the fabric. 

Synthetic fibers like polyester tend to produce more vibrant colors than natural fibers. There are a few reasons for this. Synthetics are engineered to absorb and retain dye molecules. The polymers in these man-made fibers are heat-resistant, allowing them to withstand the high temperatures needed for dye sublimation. Natural fibers like cotton and wool lack these properties. Synthetic fabrics printed with the sublimation technique result in bolder, more vivid hues compared to printing on natural textiles. 

The vibrancy of natural fibers can vary for several reasons. The specific type of fiber impacts vibrancy - cotton reflects color differently than wool or silk. How the fibers are constructed also matters. A tightly knit fabric will show color differently than a loose weave. If the fabric has been brushed or treated to create a soft, fuzzy surface, this will scatter more light and dilute the color. The density of the weave or knit pattern also affects how vividly the fabric reflects printed designs. All of these factors change how ink is absorbed and reflected back from natural fabric surfaces. So, when printing on natural materials, the exact fiber content, weave style, surface finish and density all contribute to the final vibrancy of the printed colors.

This image shows the same heathered design printed on Athletic Knit, (Dye Sublimated, on polyester/synthetic fiber,) vs Cotton Lycra, (Digitally Printed, on Natural Cotton) Note the difference in color vibrancy! Both are still burgundy; however, the Athletic Knit is more vibrant.

I used Cotton Lycra in this blog because it is the most popular knit base we offer!

We've created this handy chart to compare different vibrancies before you buy our fabric online. You can also see the pricing, print width, primary fiber content etc. 


We offer the following stretch fabrics:

Cotton Lycra

Modal Jersey

Modal French Terry

Athletic Knit


Stretch Twill

We offer the following non-stretch fabrics:

Tencel Cotton

Quilting Cotton

Rayon Crepe

Cotton French Terry (it has some ease/give but no true stretch)


But, the fabric I order from XYZ company doesn't have varying color vibrancy. Why does yours?

I cannot fully answer that for you. I can share with you that in America, we are regulated regarding environmental impact, so using an environmentally friendly printing process is important. You might be ordering fabric that is printed, or dyed overseas where attention to environmental impact is not as important or regulated. According to Fortune Business Insights, Asia Pacific dominates the Textile Export industry. This is not only the fabric they manufacture but includes printing (while less common) and dyeing (more common).

American digitally printed fabric is on the rise, but we still import a great deal of fabric from overseas. Digitally printing fabric is a fairly new process, but it has really opened up the market, and as the market shifts new technology will arise, and digitally printed fabrics will continue to improve as technology improves.


Do you offer physical fabric swatches so I can view the true colors and vibrancy before purchasing? I'd like to verify the shades in person!

We are so glad you asked! Our fabric swatch books let you preview the full spectrum of shades and hues across all our 11 base fabrics.

It's a rainbow of fabrics at your fingertips! Compare pops of color on synthetic fibers next to rich tones on natural fabrics. See how colors dazzle on Athletic Knit or become muted on Cotton Lycra. You'll be amazed at the difference real fabric samples can make.

Best of all, the swatch book pays for itself! Order today and get $5 off your next fabric purchase. The swatch book is totally FREE with your fabric order! 

Click here to pick up a swatch book today! 

Still have questions about fabric vibrancy?

We'd love to hear from you and address your concerns! You can reach out to us using the contact submission form. 

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1 comment

I learned a lot! Even the idea that the brushed surface scatters the light and makes the colors more muted…well, it was a bit like science class! Thanks, Christina!


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