The Textile Design Wordbook

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran in the textile design industry, I am sure you have once bumped into a technical term that almost sounded like a foreign language.

I get you. I've been there too. 

Because I¬†enjoy¬†making your life easier, I've prepared this glossary to guide you, and hopefully, to help your communication with¬†the fabric manufacturer (and with me). ūüėÄ


The design tile that once is repeated along the fabric, it creates a seamless effect - without borders or margins. 


The range of combination of colors that one design can have. When you buy a print in the print shop, you receive 3 different colorways (sometimes more), which means you will get 3 different color combinations for each print. If you want to change the colorways yourself, this quick tutorial can help you out.

Source File

The file where the artwork was originally created. It comes in EPS and PDF for vector files and PSD for Photoshop files. With the source file, you can easily adjust colors, change size, apply your brand label to the print, and more.

Vector file

The graphic file that is constructed using mathematical formulas, like so it stores its lines, shapes and colors. A vector file allows you to resize the artwork with no limits. Vector file formats: EPS, AI, PDF, among others.

Raster image

The graphic that uses many colored pixels or individual building blocks to form a complete image. Raster image formats: JPG, PNG, TIFF, among others.

Color Mode

How the components of a color are combined based on the number of color channels in the color model. You must ask your fabric manufacturer which color mode they require for printing. Color mode formats: RGB, CMYK, among others.


DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. It refers to how many dots of ink are dropped down when printing a file. Most fabric manufacturers require 300dpi, but some of them print on 150dpi, or 200dpi...

Placement Print

A print that is applied to a specific place of a garment. It's different to a repeat print, which prints continuous tiling of artwork. It is most commonly applied to the fabric after it has been cut and/or made into a garment; and not directly onto a length of uncut fabric.

Non-directional print

The elements of a print are placed in different positions across fabric, in a way that it appears to have no direction at all. Non-directional prints are great to reduce fabric wastage, as your garment can be cut across the fabric in any direction.

Digital Printing

The printing process that uses ink jet technology to print colorants onto fabrics. It is very popular in the fashion industry and it can print highly detailed artworks, as well as photographic prints.

Sublimation printing

The process of printing onto a special paper, and then transferring that image onto fabric. The ink is heated until it disintegrates into the fabric. The result is a permanent, full color image that won’t peel or wash away from the substrate. 

Flatbed Printing

The printing process where individual screens are made for each color and design motif. Flat screens print a finite area and not a continuous pattern.

Rotary Printing

The printing process where where each color is engraved onto large cylinders that then roll the color across the fabric. As the cylinder rotates, the squeegee device pushes print paste through the design areas of the screen onto the fabric.

Direct Printing

Direct printing means printing directly on the surface of fabrics with different types of dyes and pigments


A scaled or full-size model of a design. It is used for demonstrating how the artwork will look like in the end product.


Very helpful, thank you!

Melissa July 15, 2020

Oh my goodness, I had no idea about some of those words, lol! It’s such a useful post, thank you!

Alisha Kelly July 06, 2020

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