Screen printing at home lets you have full control of the design and the shirt, and gives you a totally personalized handmade result. Before you get started, make sure you have a place to work that is well-ventilated and that won’t be disturbed while your tools and shirt are drying.
1. Assemble Your Supplies
To make your screen, you’ll need an embroidery hoop with a square of gauzy fabric big enough to fit taut inside it, latex paint (leftovers from the DIY store are great), and a pencil. To test your screen, you need watercolor paint and a piece of paper. For the actual print, get screen-printing ink or fabric paint, both available at most craft stores, a sponge brush, and a sheet of cardboard.
2. Find a Design
The most important part of a screen print project is the design. The best way to get a great design is to search online for t-shirt vector art. Plenty of websites offer free vector art that is perfect for screen printing, and some of them can even be personalized with most photo-editing software. Look for a design that is striking, but not too complex for your first project.
3.Make the Screen
Stretch the gauze taut in the hoop and secure it in place. Put the design underneath the hoop so it is centered, then trace it lightly onto the fabric with the pencil. Using latex paint and a brush, very carefully paint over all the fabric that is not part of the design. The only visible gauze should be in the shape of your design. Allow drying thoroughly.
4. Test the Screen
When the screen is totally dry, test it before risking your shirt to it. Lay it over a piece of white paper, then paint over the screen with watercolor paint. When the screen is removed, the paper should have an image of your design in watercolors, with no spillover or extra marks. Wipe the screen clean and let dry before making your shirt.
5. Print Your Shirt
Lay your shirt out on a table and put the square of cardboard inside to keep the ink from bleeding to the back. Lay your screen on the shirt exactly where you want the design. Remember, measure twice, print once. You can’t go back if it’s crooked! With a sponge brush, paint over the screen with fabric paint or screen print ink.
Remove the screen, then let the design dry overnight before washing. Blot the screen clean with a rag, and you will be able to use it again and again. Try using several screens with different designs and ink colors to make unique multicolor screen prints!