Gary Layzell, Marie-Josee Belleau and Keith Browning offer advice to garment decorators on working with outerwear

Result’s brand ambassador, Gary Layzell

I have had a request for a large back print on a softshell jacket. On applying vinyl transfers I have experienced a black, mouldy effect coming through. What have I done wrong?

This is a common problem across nearly all softshells and is caused by the polyurethane membrane used in the construction of the garment. Unless you use a very high end transfer then the problem is almost unavoidable and can appear anywhere between 24 hours and two weeks after printing.

Result’s new R231 and R232 options use brand new material technologies to avoid this issue and with some expertise even lend themselves to screen printing. However, they are still polyester and care should be taken with application temperatures to avoid dye migration.

I have always avoided putting transfers onto nylon or polyester jackets because the edge of the transfer seems to break and peel away. Is this due to the waterproofing on the garment?

The secret to achieving the best results when applying transfers onto such materials is the ‘pre-shrink’. This is when you ‘set’ the material with the heat press before applying the transfer. This stabilises the material and avoids it shrinking under the transfer when it’s applied. It’s this shrinking that causes the broken edges to the design.

Using a small pad just under the print area will also aid in the stability of the material and help to avoid damaging the zips and fasteners.Try to ask your transfer supplier to offer you transfers with a low melt polyamide adhesive. This will also allow you to bring down the application temperature which is much friendlier to man-made fabrics.

Most Result jackets, such as the R221M, are waterproofed on the inner side of the material and have good decoration access points, therefore allowing the printer to work with raw nylons and polyester.

Stormtech’s decoration manager, Marie-Josee Belleau

Is it possible to embroider waterproof jackets?

We offer embroidery on our waterproof jackets and to ensure the same level of protection we offer a waterproof seal after the decoration is complete. The technique is to apply a heat-transferred waterproof patch to cover the back side of the embroidery. This ensures that no water can penetrate through the garment and will keep you warm and dry. The patch is flat and does not compromise the fit or comfort of the jacket. For lightweight jackets like the Stormtech PX-1 and PX-4 we offer a variety of decoration methods like heat transfer, screen print, deboss or laser etching. As the fabric is lightweight and technical in nature, these techniques are preferable to embroidery.

A design a customer wants is too dense and complicated to embroider on their fleece jacket – what would you suggest as an alternative?

With the nature of the fuzzy feel of the fleece, one great option would be to go with an appliqué. The logo can then be easily heat transferred or screen printed and sewn on as an appliqué (also referred to as a patch). If the logo works on a flat fabric like a softshell but doesn’t show as many details on the fleece, then an option is to add a slight background fill. We would also look into editing the logo to meet the requirements for embroidering the fleece. Another amazing option would be to offer laser etching. When laser etching is applied to fleece it provides a great visual affect highlighting a customer’s logo while remaining tonal and subtle. Laser etching can really increase and add value to what would normally be a simple fleece product.

Regatta’s sales director, Keith Browning

What are your top decoration tips for softshells and waterproof jackets?

We recommend embroidery as the best way to decorate a softshell. The smooth finish of the softshell takes the details of finest embroidery perfectly; it also has better longevity in wear and appearance over a heatseal alternative.

We recommend using a screen print on waterproof garments as it gives a great finish. With the exception of the Stormflex jacket, all our waterproof jackets can have screen printing applied to them.

Some decorators avoid jackets as they are concerned that processes such as vinyl and screen print, which require the use of heat, could damage the products. What’s your advice?

If the heat setting used to apply the prints is correct there will be no issues at all. If the heat is too high, however, you can damage the waterproof coating on a jacket, or potentially burn the fabric and ruin the garment. We always advise using a Teflon sheet when heat pressing to protect the garment.