This section is from the book "Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting", by Antoinette Van Hoesen Wakeman. Also available from Amazon: Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting: For Use In Schools And In The Home.
It was in India that the printing of fabrics in various patterns and colors originated. The first printing of fabrics in Europe was near London in 1676.
The processes of printing cloth are very complex, but so perfectly is the machinery for this purpose adjusted that beautiful work is done with great rapidity. At Manchester, England, twenty-five yards of calico are printed in one minute.
There are two kinds of fabric printing, - block printing and machine printing. In block printing the pattern to be printed is cut on a block of sycamore wood as for wood engraving, the parts to make the impression being left prominent, and the rest cut away. An ingenious invention makes it possible to apply several colors at once by means of one block.
The printing which is now almost universally used is by means of cylinders covered with engraved copper. Each cylinder prints a single shade or color. There is a color box in the center of this machine, and by means of screws and other fine mechanical adjustments the pitch of each roller is so arranged that its particular color falls on the proper place with the most minute exactness. Although the machinery for doing this work is intricate and costly, and everything connected with it must be very carefully considered, the process is not expensive. If it were, calico and other printed cloth would not be as cheap as they are.