Screenprinting Shirts DIY

I first learned to do at home screen printing about a year ago.. and its pretty darn intimidating when you start honestly. I'm by no means an expert at it even now, but I still love being able to create new things at home…even if they're not perfect ;) Last year I got to make t-shirts for my entire multi sport league (we played a different sport every week) it was really fun & the team loved saving the money cause this ended up being about half as expensive as paying a professional. Screen printing team photo So today Im going to walk you though the steps to making and screen printing your own shirt. I have an incredibly literal sense of humour. I used to joke that instead of going to a band's show wearing that bands T shirt, I would instead make my own shirt that just said "MUSIC" and I could wear it to every show I attended. See, I'm literal and cheap! I realized quickly that the possibilities for this idea were endless. So today I'm creating a "MUSIC!" shirt using at home screen printing. If a design is small enough, I can usually fit two designs on one screen, and just use tape the cover the other design when its not in use. Realistically its going to take some practice to get really good at this. I recommend trying your print on a piece of cardboard or old rag first before trying it on a shirt that you paid good money for. Materials I Used
  • T shirt
  • Printing Screen
  • Squeegee
  • Transparent paper
  • Fabric Screen Printing Ink
  • Photo emulsion liquid
  • Access to Sink
  • Access to Dark Room
  • Access to sun/bright bulb
  • Cardboard & Garbage Bag

Step One - Design your Shirt printing First things first, I had to make my design. I used adobe programs such as photoshop & indesign. So I finalized my design in black and white then printed out on transparent paper. Everything that is black will NOT get exposed to the light. Leaving it open to allow ink to pass through. Step Two - Preparing the Screen screen printing diyThe emulsion comes in two parts: the sensitizer and the emulsion. Mix these together, and then spread a thin layer of the photo emulsion on the screen. You want the emulsion on the flat side of the screen. Do this in a dark room as to not burn the image prematurely. Let dry for several hours in pitch black before proceeding. You want it to be a smooth, thin layer.


Step Three - Burning the Image still I burned this on backwards because when you flip it over the image will face the correct way on the shirt.[/caption] Burn the image into the screen using the power of the sun. Bright bulbs will also do the trick - though it may take a bit longer. Lay the transparency paper down on top the of screen with the screen side down on top of a dark surface such as old towel or garbage bag. Secure with clear tape or a piece of glass laid over top. If you are leaving it outside in the sun - under 5 minutes If you are leaving it outside in cloudy weather - 5-10 minutes If you are using a bulb indoors - 10 -15 minutes (place lamp directly above screen - about two feet away is ideal)

When the image is burned, you will see faint blue lines outlining your design. Then you can run cold water through the screen. The water should only pour through where the screen is unburned. Continue spraying until you can see through your image very clearly. Let the screen dry.


Step Four - Printingscreen printing diy

Because I have two images on my screen, I put newspaper under the bottom half to be sure only what I wanted to print would appear.[/caption] After transferring your design into the screen you're ready to print! Lay the screen carefully on your shirt. Make sure the shirt is pulled taught. I like to put something solid like a piece of cardboard in the shirt to help keep it straight, as well as avoid any paint bleeding through. Poor a dollop of paint on the top of the screen and use the squeegee to pull down, up and across in a quick smooth motion. Use a fair amount of pressure to be sure the paint gets all the way through the screen. The leftover paint on the screen can be poured back into the paint can for another use. Leave to dry in a safe place overnight.

Step Five - Rock it! Wear with pride, and brag to all your friends that you can screen print things! screen printing diy

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