How to Screen Print Your Own T-Shirt

How to Screen Print Your Own T-Shirt

The idea of printing your own custom t-shirts is exciting. It may seem too difficult to do at first, but screen printing your own shirt is actually possible, even at the comfort of your home. Here are the steps and also some tips for an easy and fun screen printing:

Step 1: Gather your materials.

One of the most common types of screen printing is with the use of silkscreen. You can do it just like how you use a stencil with your art projects. A step-by-step process will be given to help you go through the process. To begin with, here are the materials that you will need:

  • Silkscreen with frame
  • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
  • T-shirt
  • Gloves
  • 250-watt bulb
  • Fabric ink for silk screen printing
  • Squeegee
  • A small piece of cardboard that can be placed inside your shirt
  • Pitch black room

Step 2: Make your image.

For starters, you can create or choose any black image. A solid one without thin lines is preferred. Once you have created or chosen an image, you may proceed to print it using a laser printer into a transparency paper.

Step 3: Prepare the emulsion.

Mix the emulsion and sensitizer together. For proper preparation, follow the instructions provided on the bottle. Once mixed together, pour a little on the silkscreen and spread it out evenly using your squeegee. Make sure to cover the area where you will put your image on. Repeat the process of pouring and spreading the emulsion until you cannot see through the screen anymore. However, take note that an even thin layer of emulsion is preferred for better results. Once done, the screen must be left in a pitch black room to dry up for about two hours.

Step 4: Place the image on your screen.

Put down the screen and frame with the screen side on the lower part. Place the transparency paper with the image on the screen where the emulsion is spread. To keep the transparency paper in place, you may put a glass over it or just simply use a tape. Place your lamp with the 250-watt bulb for about one to two feet away from the screen and leave it there for around 10 to 15 minutes. If you can start to see faint blue lines on the screen and you can clearly see the image, then you are doing good and you may proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Clean the screen.

Remove the emulsion off the screen using water spray. Continue doing this until you can see the image properly burnt on the screen. Once the screen is completely dried up, cover the exposed parts with tape.

Step 6: Print your image.

Place your t-shirt on a flat surface and put the small piece of cardboard underneath the part where you will do the printing. Put the screen over and pour a small amount of fabric ink across the screen. Using the squeegee, make a strong yet smooth swipe down the screen. You may repeat swiping the ink across the image to push the ink on the t-shirt. Once done, lift the screen and remove the cardboard. You may also want to place the shirt in your oven for about 30 seconds in a 400-degree Fahrenheit heat to make the print last longer.

It may take some time before you can make complicated designs with the use of screen printing, but with lots of practice and patience, you can create wonderful custom t-shirts.

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