Screen Printing at Home

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I like to screen print on various articles of "blank" clothing to make them interesting and unique, something to fit my style. You can buy a screen print kit from Michael's craft store (and use the 40% off coupon in the paper ad) or use my method. I do my own and it's relatively cheap.

Note: Read through my directions all the way before you begin, make sure you understand. I can get confusing at times.

Supplies:

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  • article of clothing to print on
  • Speedball (brand that I use, it works the best) screen printing fabric ink (it's about $8 a jar, but it lasts a long time.) (Also, make sure you get the jars that say "Fabric" or else it might not set forever)
  • a medium sized paint brush and various sized smaller brushes
  • Mod Podge glue
  • embroidery hoop
  • panty hose
  • newspaper/wax paper/ cardboard (something to put in between the sides of the fabric so it won't bleed through in reverse)
  • a printed, monochromatic design
  • Sharpie pen
  • old fabric (to test your screen on)
  • iron

Directions:

  1. Take the panty hose and affix it to the embroidery hoop. Be sure to stretch it tight, otherwise it could ruin your design when you apply the paint. (Like you would if you were doing embroidery, but you'll have excess hose.) Trim the excess off so it won't get in your way. You'll now have the beginning of your screen.
  2. Lay your printed design flat on a table and then lay the "screen" down (fabric side down) on top of the design. Make sure everything you want fits inside of the hoop. Good.
  3. Now with a Sharpie trace every part of your design, fill it in if you want, especially if it's an intricate design; this will help you later. After you finish tracing you're ready for the next step.
  4. This step requires patience and a bit of a steady hand. Don't be scared, this step takes a bit of time and is the most difficult. I should state that if you have a complicated and/or intricate design it probably won't come out exact. I found this out my first time, but you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. It's "important" that you flip the screen over to the reverse side so you don't glue it down to the newspaper. Panty hose side up, or whatever you're using for a drop sheet. Again, a lesson I learned the hard way.
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  6. After that longwinded speech, here's what you do: Using the Mod Podge and smaller paint brushes, you want to paint "around" the "outside" of your design. You are blocking out everything you don't want paint to touch. The negative space. Take your time and make sure to cover the negative space well.
  7. After you finish with the Mod Podge let it dry. Or if you're impatient like me you can use a hair dryer, low power so you don't stretch the panty hose.
  8. After it's dry you're ready to screen print. But first, you really should test out the screen on a piece of scrap fabric just to make sure it's what you want and that there isn't any negative space that happens to be uncovered.

To print on fabric with your new screen:

  1. Take your shirt (most likely) and put a piece of cardboard inbetween the sides. Smooth out the fabric, but don't stretch it. Lay the screen on the fabric, panty hose side DOWN. Panty hose should be in direct contact with fabric. Take your medium sized brush and the Speedball fabric paint and slab it across the screen. Don't be afraid to put enough on, but don't use too much either. After it looks like you've covered your design, dip the tip of the brush in the paint and stab the design. This will ensure that you get through the screen and cover your design. After you feel comfortable that you've covered it well, carefully peel up the screen off of the fabric. The end result should be your design on your shirt or wherever you've decided to put it. Remember to test it first so that you get it to where you want it.
  2. While the ink dries you can wash out the screen so you can reuse it. They are surprisingly durable. I've got one that I've used over twenty times for various items and it still works like the first time.
  3. Let the ink dry and after it has dried well, iron over it for about five minutes to set the ink. These instructions come on the jar of Speedball screen printing fabric paint. After that the design should be permanent. (Unless you bleach it and then who knows?)
  4. After you gain more and more experience and get a feel for it, you can try to do designs with multiple colors, layering, et cetera. speedballart.com is a great resource for tips, actual kits, inks, et cetera.

By Roy from Richmond, VA

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December 27, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks for the tips! Thought it worked great!

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April 3, 20120 found this helpful

I have always wanted to learn fabric screening. This was helpful, but would be much more effective with photos. I am a visual learner. Kind regards.

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July 13, 20150 found this helpful

I want to try this. Do you have a video how to do this project.

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