Star Steamer

Fabric steamer for fixing prints on cotton - wool - silk using the relevant dyepastes

Nowadays dyepastes will include the popular method of digital printing using inkjet dyes.

The chemicals and thickening traditionally added with the dye is now added to the cloth prior to printing.

The steaming process replicates the dyeing process and takes about the same amount of time.

The printed area is wetted out by the hot steam: hygroscopic chemicals in the print paste help by attracting moisture.

The gum thickening in the print paste prevents spreading. Each printed shape is like a mini dyebath.


The upright cylindrical steamer gets its name from the hooked star used for hanging the fabric.

The diameter of the cylinder depends on the length of fabric to be steamed.

The following sketches are not working drawings and not to scale.

They show only the general design of the cylindrical star steamer.


Points to consider

The conditions in the steamer for natural fibres need only be atmospheric.

It's important to ensure that the steam exhaust is large enough to avoid pressure build up in the steam chamber.

Steam creates a very corrosive atmosphere for metal

therefore mild steel should be galvanised or substituted by using stainless steel.

Water in the base chamber should not boil, an adequate temperature controller should be used to avoid boiling.


Decide on the length to be printed and then make the star.

Hooks should be about 1.5 cm apart. Make a mockup wooden star or cross, longer than necessary and use nails

1.5 cm apart along the arms. A measured string can then be wound round the nails and the size of star can be determined.

Once the star that accommodates the length of fabric has been made, the diameter of the inner cylinder can be determined.

The depth of the steamer is determined by calculating the fabric width plus adequate clearance at the bottom.

Steam times can be up to 1 hour therefore adequate water should be held in the base tank to avoid too frequent refilling

of cold water from the feeder tank.

If you are good at joints make a star instead of a cross

Back to main page