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Cheap screen printing tutorial

Alright, I've finally had the time to "screen print" another shirt, so here's the tutorial...

Materials needed: a t-shirt, yucky/cheap paint brushes, an embroidery hoop, screen printing ink (I use Speedball brand), a glue that isn't water-soluble (I use Mod Podge), curtain sheer material/tulle/old nylons, and a computer with a printer (or a good hand for drawing things).

Find an image you like and that has good contrast. My cow needed to be "cut out," and I've only got Microsoft Paint on this computer and it worked fine.

Save the image as a Monochrome Bitmap file and it will turn it black and white. If this loses all the detail, fudge around on Paint or try a different picture, haha.

Print it out so the image is the size you want it on the t-shirt (and also so it's not bigger than the embroidery hoop you spent ¢67 on).

After pulling the sheer curtain material/tulle/old nylons tight across the embroidery hoop (and screwing it shut real good), trace the image onto the material with a pencil with the material close to the paper, not upside down so it's far away.

You should be able to see the pencil outline easily without squinting too hard. If it's too detailed, fudge some more.

Turn the thing over and with the glue, paint all the "negative space," (all the places you don't want ink to go, the white space). Make sure the material isn't touching whatever surface you're working on otherwise you'll end up gluing the whole thing down, obviously.

Some people say you can use tape to fill in the bigger area, but I think that painting the glue on all over the larger spaces is the best part, but do what you will.

After the glue dries, center the image on the shirt face down, and I sort of stipple the ink through the material making sure it's fully saturated, but also making sure not to glob it all over the place.

Carefully peel it back, wait for it to dry, and follow the "setting" directions on the ink (mine is to iron it on medium 3 - 5 minutes each side with a piece of cloth/paper between the iron and the ink).

I hope that helps some!

Edit 5/11/06: I get emails when comments are made and will always try my best to answer questions, even if they have been answered in all these pages of replies. No need to come to my personal journal to drop notes; I get them--I promise!

Edit 8/13/06: Here is a brief FAQ I compiled that might help some people with their questions so that they don't have to scroll through all these pages of comments trying to find it or emailing me with them.

What paint? What glue?

Speedball brand Screen Printing Ink and Mod Podge glue are both what I use. I don't like the way fabric paint looks on fabric and I've never tried acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium, though I know people have gotten results to their liking with both. Mod Podge is a non-water-soluble glue. It cannot be washed out once it has dried. I buy both at Hobby Lobby and have no idea where else they are carried.

My printed image looks pixelated and rough; help!

If you used nylons/tulle, that's probably why. I like those two fabrics if you're really on the low-cost side of DIY, but a sheer curtain material works much better as the "weave" of the fabric is much tighter, making a more detailed screen/print.

Will the ink bleed through to the back layer of my shirt?

Maybe. Use caution as you would when working on a shirt any other time--put some newspaper between the front and back.

Can I print on other things?

Yes, so long as you use the right type of ink/medium mixed in your acrylic paint. Speedball makes ink for metal/wood/plastic (I believe) and there are a number of mediums you can purchase for your paint.

Can I wash out the glue?

No, that's the whole point. The glue doesn't wash out so you can use the screen with the same image over and over again. I think it's a little too much effort to make to use just once; if that's what you want, I'd do a stencil instead.

How do I do more than one color?

I'm sure you can separate layers in Photoshop and such and make multiple screens, but I've yet to try it out myself.

I'm from Such and Such publication; can I reprint this tutorial?

Please email me: kristyk51 at yahoo dot com.

Eat meat, stupid.

No, thanks.

This is a stupid idea.

Then don't do it.

I'll probably continue to edit this as needed. Thanks!

Find this archived at my blog here: http://stringstothings.blogspot.com/


( 823 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 1st, 2004 09:49 pm (UTC)

I'm SO glad you posted this! I've always wondered how to do that! DAMN!

I'm so going to try this.
Aug. 5th, 2004 12:21 am (UTC)
i love love love your icon
Thanks! - erichews - Aug. 1st, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - college_coed - Sep. 23rd, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bonnyclade - Oct. 3rd, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - missinight - Oct. 6th, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
got me into the game! - markm81 - Jul. 2nd, 2006 11:59 am (UTC) - Expand
great for a logo - gds4v - Nov. 17th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
You will love screen printing - elite12 - Sep. 6th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 09:53 pm (UTC)
excellent instruction!
Sep. 8th, 2006 09:58 pm (UTC)
wow nothing like searching up random silk screening tutorials via google and finding people you know having commented.- and like 2 years back even.
(no subject) - solsoly - Feb. 23rd, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 09:57 pm (UTC)
what kind of paint!?
what kind of glue!?
Jun. 1st, 2004 09:59 pm (UTC)
Speedball brand screen printing ink and Modge Podge glue.
(no subject) - rockannroll - Jun. 1st, 2004 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashey - Jun. 24th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - girlx512 - Jun. 24th, 2005 02:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
glass and mod podge - cheves - Jul. 2nd, 2005 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - belindashort - Jul. 30th, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quezada - Aug. 22nd, 2005 09:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - violetdaisies - Jun. 1st, 2004 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
what kind of paint and glue - cheves - Jul. 2nd, 2005 05:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kallejefuz - Jul. 13th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - abbienager - Jul. 15th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilyvekiw - Jul. 16th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I forgot to add the best part:

The screen can be used over, and over, and over, and over...

Which is why I prefer this over the "contact paper stencil method" any day. Just make sure to rinse the ink out when you're done :o)
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:43 pm (UTC)
Tres Preguntas (3 Questions)
Rinsing out the paint won't rinse out the glue?
Can you take it off the hoop so you can reuse this?
Where do you pick up Screen Printing Ink?

I want to do this so bad now - and have 10 blank shirts I bought at Walgreens to try this out on. Yippie!
(no subject) - girlx512 - Jun. 2nd, 2004 07:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - queenbri2244 - Jun. 2nd, 2004 08:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - starweaver - Jun. 2nd, 2004 08:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:22 pm (UTC)
un be fucking lievable.

Jul. 15th, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
  By | PM The word is "unbe-fucking-lievable. " Unfortunately, the report is not unbelievable at all.
(no subject) - lizyjole - Jul. 16th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - colleeneguha - Jul. 16th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:44 pm (UTC)
Best instructions ever! Wheee! I'm looking for shirts to make already :D Thankyou!

<3 Mara
Jul. 15th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
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Jun. 1st, 2004 10:46 pm (UTC)
I havent seen that technique before, thanks girlx -- it looks easy and fun! Now I'm off to buy nylons... fortunately I'm in LA so probably wont get too many weird looks. :)

Back in the 70s my parents screen-printed lots of stuff. One was a postcard with a big black bird drinking out of a soda bottle -- their number was 229-2659 or CAW-COLY

Another technique was using an object for it's own silhouette. Across a stretched screen, lay down a flat simple object -- leaves are great. Using a roller or brush, paint a layer of glue. Carefully pull up the leaf, then when the glue is dry you have a no-work stencil!

Jun. 1st, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC)
wow you're my hero. thankyousomuch :D
Sep. 17th, 2010 09:11 am (UTC)
Re: A++
I know. I looked at this thread years ago and im still using the same technique today. East London Locksmith
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:55 pm (UTC)
You are the greatest person ever. EVER. I have been wanting to do this, but couldn't find any really clear instructions. Is the speedball ink expensive?
Jun. 1st, 2004 10:57 pm (UTC)
I don't think it was more than $6 for a jar, but I could be wrong, but not really wrong.
(no subject) - veggiecoreangie - Nov. 28th, 2004 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - girlx512 - Nov. 28th, 2004 02:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 1st, 2004 11:10 pm (UTC)
You rock my world. Seriously.
I'm sooo excited to try this!!
I have always wondered how this worked.
Yay! Thank so much!!
Jun. 1st, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
Cows are friends, not food
omg, that is the craftiest thing I've ever seen. You are my hero. ;) I love the cow design, too.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 1st, 2004 11:56 pm (UTC)
i'm not exactly what you're peeling off in the second to last step/picture
Jun. 1st, 2004 11:56 pm (UTC)
i'm not exactly sure*
(no subject) - girlx512 - Jun. 2nd, 2004 07:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dagfari - Dec. 14th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2004 12:27 am (UTC)
thank you thank you THANK YOU! I've been trying to make sense of other peoples tutorials in the memories of several communities and this is the ONLY one that made sense! Are these pics going to stay up? I wanna make a memory ;)
Jun. 2nd, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
They should be staying put for quite some time.
(no subject) - fashion_purse - Jun. 26th, 2010 10:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2004 03:47 am (UTC)
that's so nifty! i would have never thought of that, ever. i do regular silk screening, chemicals and the whole nine. i like this idea a lot better :)
May. 15th, 2005 07:05 am (UTC)
I do it with all the chemicals.... this is much cheaper by far!!! I love you!!!! I wish I could have thought of something sooooo ingenious!
Jun. 2nd, 2004 05:47 am (UTC)
that's hella rad
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