Garment Dyed vs Pigment Dyed vs Piece Dyed vs Yarn Dyed

by Gooten Editorial Team on Mar. 20, 2024

Deciphering the Difference Between several PoD dyeing methods.

As you seek the best production partners for your print on demand apparel business, it helps to have some baseline understanding of the different techniques and processes used for your garments. For instance, there are a number of common methods for adding color to a piece of clothing or textile before it is printed with your design and you may frequently encounter these descriptions as manufacturers describe their blanks.  You may encounter descriptions such as: garment dye, pigment dye, piece dye, and yarn dye.

These terms can be a bit confusing, but each one represents a method that may impact the final finished product. Let’s take a closer look at the different dyeing options, exploring just a few of the methods in which custom apparel can be richly colored.

Everything You Need to Know About Print on Demand Dyeing Methods

What is Garment Dyeing?

Let’s start with a process called garment dyeing. In garment dyeing, a piece of cloth is cut and sewn into a finished piece of clothing. Dye is then absorbed into the finished garment during the washing process. This results in even, consistent coverage.

Garment dyeing is an especially popular option for knit fabrics, as it actually makes the fabrics softer to the touch. Additionally, garment dyeing works well when darker colors are being used, as this process tends to produce deeper, richer tones. The biggest downside? Garment dyeing tends to be a little bit more expensive than other methods.

What is Pigment Dyeing?

Pigment “dyeing” is a bit of a misnomer because it’s not actually a dyeing process.  When fabric is “dyed” it’s the fabric fibers that absorb the colors of the dye.  Pigment dyeing, however, is more akin to fabric paint and the color sits on TOP of the fabric fiber rather than INTO the fiber. Like garment dyeing, pigment dyeing is typically done once the cloth has been cut, sewn, and more-or-less finalized. Pigment dyeing is a bit more complicated than garment dyeing, as it involves the use of chemical enzymes and bonding agents to ensure the pigments remain in place. And while pigment dyeing allows for greater precision, the results tend to fade after several wears and washes.

What is Piece Dyeing?

Piece dyeing works quite differently than the previous 2 processes, which dye a finished garment (a sweatshirt, for example). With piece dyeing, the process begins before the cloth is cut or sewn into its final shape. Rather, the dyeing process is performed on large pieces of knit or woven fabrics, as well as cotton fibers. Once the dye has set, the pieces can be finalized via cutting and sewing.

Piece dyeing works best for darker colors, and is probably the single best option for single-color apparel manufactured at a large scale. In most cases, unless a garment is marketed otherwise, most of your basic print on demand shirts are piece dyed.  Large rolls of fabric are dyed to the appropriate colors and then cut & sewn into garments.

What is Yarn Dyeing?

Yarn dyeing describes a process in which individual fibers are dyed. Once they have soaked up plenty of color, the individual pieces of yarn are knit or woven into a piece of fabric.  You will most commonly find striped, checked, gingham, plaids as fabrics that are yarn dyed and then woven into those patterns. 

Which Type of Dyeing is Right for my Print On Demand brand?

One of the benefits of print on demand is that there are a large number of brands, styles and garments available to you that span the spectrum of what you want to offer. This article hopefully has helped you decipher these differences as you compare various garments and read product specifications. 

At Gooten, we’re pleased to provide our partners with a huge assortment of brands, styles and garments with access to our network of tested, best-in-class print on demand production methods. Here are some of our most popular brands: 



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