Friday, August 27, 2010

Father's Day Gift Idea: Screen Print a T-Shirt

Father's Day is fast approaching and we have found the perfect DIY gift idea, from Do-It-Yourself Gifts - personalised screen printed t-shirt! Screen printing is usually expensive, time-consuming and difficult - but Do-It-Yourself Gifts has devised an easy and inexpensive way to DIY a screen-printed t-shirt...

Silk Screen Priting Supplies:

• Embroidery hoop
• Organza (or other sheer material)
• Masking tape
• Fabric paint or screenprinting ink
• Squeegie
• Prewashed shirt
• Pencil
• Scissors
• Mod Podge
• Paintbrush or foam brush
• Piece of cardboard
• Iron

Screen Printing Instructions:
The basic concept behind how to screen print involves pushing ink through a screen that has a design on it. If you block ink from going through the negative space on a screen printing mesh, it will show your screen printing art on your item. Make sense? Sound confusing? Just follow the step-by-step directions below and it will become clear.

Step One
Prewash your shirt to remove factory chemicals, and don't use a fabric softner in the washing machine or dryer (it leaves a slight residue behind on your clothing, and you want the shirt to have a totally clean surface).

Use an emroidery hoop that will be big enough to fit your design within it, and allow the squeegie to move freely inside it. Stretch a piece of organza through the hoop and tighten it. If you don't have organza, you can use another sheer material like an old sheer curtain...the color doesn't matter, as long as it has tiny "holes" for the ink to pass through. Don't spend a lot on your material...check the clearance rack for scraps of fabric or a thrift shop for a sheer curtain panel.

DIY screen printing

Once the fabric is stretched tightly, trim it to fit the hoop. Cover the edge of the hoop with masking tape to keep it from sliding.

Screen Printing Kit
Step Two

Print a screen printing design on your computer or use a picture that you can easily trace around. Lay your hoop with organza over the design, and using a pencil,carefully trace around it onto the material (make sure the material side is down so that it is against the paper).

Screen printing designs
Screen printing process

Step Three

Using Mod Podge (an all in one glue, sealer, and finish that you can purchase at most craft stores), cover all the areas OUTSIDE of the design. Remember, you are keeping the design open so that the paint can pass through the screen there. You may need to use a big regular or foam brush for the large space, and a fine brush to get up close to the design. When you are done with one side, flip it over and do the same thing on the other side of the fabric.

If you'd like, you can choose to put a second coat on both sides once the first coat dries. This ensures that all of the little holes in the material are sealed that you want to be sealed. Trust me, a shirt with a bunch of little ink spots around your screen printing art looks terrible!
Step Four

Once the Mod Podge dries, you're ready to print your design onto your shirt. Place a piece of cardboard between the two layers of your shirt to keep the design from going through to the other side. Lay the hoop where you'd like the design to appear on your screen printed t-shirt. Squirt some ink above the design. Make sure you have enough to cover the design, but too much will cause it to "bleed" under the open areas of the mesh.

Screen Printing Shirts
Screen Printing at Home
Using your squeegie spread the ink around inside the hoop, allowing it to pass through your design and onto your shirt. Be careful not to press too hard, or the ink may leak around the design and make the edges of your design less crisp.

Silk Screen Printing Equipment

Don't be discouraged if you put a little too much ink on your first time. Just scoop it to the side and use less next time! It takes a little practice to learn how to screen print.

Step Five

After you're sure that the ink has evenly passed through your design, carefully lift the hoop off of your newly screen printed shirt. It looks good, doesn't it? You should be proud of yourself!

How to Screen Print

Rinse the hoop out, and now that you know how to screen print, you'll be able to use it again and again (or just take the material out and start over).

Carefully place the shirt (with the cardboard still in between the layers) somewhere it can dry overnight. Once the ink is dry, place a thin cloth over the design and iron for about 30-45 seconds to set the design. Turn the shirt inside out and repeat the ironing. Make sure your iron is set on the wool/cotton setting, and that you don't use the steam setting (no water).