Tips on preparing a great fabric label design

Posted by Gus Svab on

Most of you probably know already that the printing of the label is only half the equation, design is equally important. And no, I'm not talking about how to draw the perfect logo, or what to include on the label (I will leave the latter for another post), but how to get the most out of what you already have and are eager to get printed.

Printer resolution:

Usually measured in dpi (dots per inch),  or how many printed points a printer is capable of imprinting onto the material.The higher this value the more dots can be printed on an area, so more detail can be included.  Good digital (fabric) printers will do at least 300dpi .Weaving devices will be limited by the width of the thread and material type, and are usually lower resolution. Flexographic (offset) printers are the ultimate high resolution monsters, and do all in full colour too. If this is something you can't compromise on and don't mind the costs and large minimum quantities (usually 1000+, but 5-10k+ are not unheard of) this is the way to go.


As important as the printing device, but a lot less technical and easier to grasp: The rougher the surface of a material the lower the resolution of the final product. Consider stamping a design onto a smooth piece of paper using normal ink! You will most likely end up with a continuous imprint of the stamp design. Now try the same on a piece of chunky knit! Chances are your print will have huge gaps in it and will be distorted if legible at all. Printing works exactly the same way: The smoother the material's surface the more contact the printer will have with it, and you will have less "holes" in your artwork.

Material roughness goes like this (on average, but can vary by thread density):

Nylon -> Taffeta/Satin -> Cotton

Print resolution

The overall resolution of the label will be either the printer's or the material resolution, whichever is lower. Sometimes the loss of detail is not a problem, and can even be artistic: accentuating the rawness of the texture, however make sure important text is always readable!


1mm TM symbol on a  25mm Satin label

TM symbol magnified
The purpose of the symbol is simply to be there,
and looks great even if the texture of the satin distorts it a bit


Size matters

Needless to say, that all the above depends on the label size. Try to squeeze a good looking 2" nylon label onto a 1/2" tiny strip, and your results are going to be well, not good looking. Likewise, if you have a small-mid size label where the detailed design simply doesn't look right, try to increase the label size if possible! Reverse this approach if your label has to be a fixed size, and try to let go of that curly wurly subtext you had in mind for your 15mm care label.

But why do I have to know all this?

Because you want a good looking label silly:) Yes you are not the printer, but the artwork will be coming from you, and the worst thing you can do is have unrealistic expectations. Understand the process, and be real: if you want your A6 rainbow leaflet printed on a 1inch satin strip all you can expect is disappointment when you open your box a week later and stare at mushy text with a smudged artwork in 500 copies on a tiny piece of man made fibre.

As a general rule of thumb:

  • Easy logo with a couple of words, or a one word brand -> woven label or small satin strip
  • Complex logo, a fair amount of text, with care instructions -> mid-large size satin strip digitally printed
  • High text density, warning labels where readability is paramount -> Digitally printed nylon
  • Fine art print with lots of detail in vivid multi-colour finish -> flexographic print on satin


Export - parting ways with your artwork

This is the last step where you are directly involved in the creation process, but just as important as the rest.
Send a vector file whenever possible! Most printers will accept Adobe Illustrator formats (.ai, .eps) or editable pdf. Some can handle Inkscape (svg) or others. A vector is great for the printers as they can scale the artwork without any loss, and easily make any edits that might be necessary for their printing method. Just make sure you don't forget to convert any text to outlines (AI), or to paths (Inkscape), or embed the fonts, otherwise the printers might not be able to use your file!

There are times when you can't produce a vector (maybe you don't have one in the first place, your designer doesn't give it to you, or you can't send it over due to licensing limitations), in this case your only option is to export to bitmap. Most printers will accept PNG or JPG, just make sure that the export resolution is high enough so nothing is lost when your design is imported on the far end, and needs to be scaled!

Here is a handy checklist that you or your designer can follow when submitting artwork for printing:


  • ask what format is supported
  • convert text to outlines (ai) or paths (inkscape) or embed fonts if licence allows
  • make sure, that any embedded rasters are 300+ dpi (aim for 600)

bitmap export:

  • make sure the vector is scaled up to at least your print size
  • export with at least 300 dpi resolution, aim for 600 if possible
  • select the highest quality, and choose white background if you can (PNG) avoid compression (JPG)
  • don't select any anti-aliasing, or any other post processing option


The same label when exported without (left) and with (right) anti-aliasing

You can see the greyed pixels which are
supposed to smoothen the edges of paths.
On a thermal print though this will make the text lines look thinner, and harder to read.

A note on colours:

Depending on the type of label you can have one, a few, or multiple colours in your artwork. When setting up for black on white digital printing (standard care label) make sure that your artwork only contains pure black as a colour. Don't submit a file with a greyscale palette! Same goes for woven labels where usually only a handful of colours are allowed. The AI recolour artwork option will be of help here. 



As you can see the end product is subject to many factors, and the material you are printing on can make a huge difference, so it is a good idea to factor these in when you are at the proofing process. Some printers will only show you a digital proof, maybe a screenshot of their label designer app, or a pdf. While it will give you an idea of the general layout of things, bear in mind, that an artwork will look sharp on screen most of the times, but can look quite different when applied to texture.

For piece of mind try to get a physical proof if time and your printer allows, or at least a pre-printed sample of the same material/printer.

A good (and time-saving) compromise is to get a high-resolution photo taken of your print and emailed to you.



We at Naked Labels print care labels on nylon and satin, and while we don't do flexographic prints or woven labels we tried to be totally unbiased in the comparison. We believe, that you should choose the one that best suits your needs and would be happy to advise even if you need a label type that's not in our portfolio.

If you want to know more of our process read this post:

Any questions: please leave a comment, or get in touch at our facebook page:


Share this post

← Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.