Vocational Vocabulary: Substrate / Textile

Vocational Vocabulary - Substrate Textile blog article cover

While the terms Substrate and Textile aren’t used very much in ‘day-to-day’ speech, you will probably hear them when you attend trade shows, or other events catering to the garment decoration /  sign graphics industry. So what do they mean and how do they differ?

What is a ‘Substrate’?

Substrate is a term used to describe the base material onto which images will be printed. This could include:

  • Plastic films
  • Textiles (see below)
  • Papers
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Etc…

How does this term relate to garment decorators?

A Substrate could refer to a Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl, a T-shirt that you will be DTG printing or screen printing, and it can also refer to hard surface promotional items like Metal Sign Boards, Mugs and other Sublimation print compatible products.

What is a ‘Textile’?

Textile is a term usually used in reference to the fabric in clothing. And while this is accurate, textiles can include any flexible material made of natural or artificial interlacing fibers. These include:

  • T-shirts (garments / clothes)
  • Banners
  • Twill / Appliqué
  • Flags
  • Towels
  • more

How does this term relate to garment decorators?

While garment decoration shops deal mostly in clothing, like t-shirts, sweaters, caps, etc… it’s good to know that most ‘textiles’ are customizable (like the examples listed above). If you don’t offer these non-clothing products currently, consider adding them as ‘Add On’ promotional goods.*

*Did You Know? Wellington House not only offers Custom Printing and Cutting services for Heat Transfers, but also prints Indoor/Outdoor BannersStickers, and Large Sign/Vehicle Graphics.


– Substrates are any material that can be printed on, whether soft or hard.
– Textile is more specifically a flexible or soft material (usually a type of cloth) that can be decorated.

Have questions about which materials or processes work on different Substrates or Textiles? Contact our team of specialists by email or phone:

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