I’m always trying to find a new (inexpensive) way to craft, and I have fallen in love with the art of screen printing! I was really intimidated at first… it seemed there were so many materials to buy, so many steps… but then I stumbled upon this post on Instructables.com showing a simple way you can screen print at home with just a few inexpensive items. Here’s an example of how I made it work for me:
Pre-washed tee-shirt, onesie, fabric bag whatever!
Mod Podge Glue (find it at craft stores)
Fine mesh fabric (gauzy curtain fabric or nylons both work)
A small paint brush
Painter’s tape or masking tape
Small piece of folded cardboard (box tops work well for this)
1. Doodle Time! Some of you may want to print out an image from your computer, but I love doing little drawings. In this case I took one of my favorite nicknames for my son (Booger) and drew it out on paper. For this version of screen printing, you don’t want anything to intricate; clean simple lines work best. I just drew out the word in block print on a piece of white paper.
2. Using an embroidery hoop and some cheap curtain fabric, I created a screen. You can get embroidery hoops at your local craft or fabric store. make sure you get a size large enough to contain your image, but not too huge. While you’re getting your embroidery hoop, go back to the clearance fabric section and pick up a yard of gauzy window curtain fabric (this will be enough to make a few screens). Some people use nylons for this step and that’s fine too, just make sure you have a small mesh fabric. Stretch your fabric over the inner hoop and then put the outer hoop on top, secure, tighten and stretch the fabric REALLY TIGHT! You want it to be really taut.
3. Next it’s time to trace the image. Put your screen face down on the paper, directly on top of the image. Trace the outline of your image with a pencil. When I initally wrote out the word Booger, I used thick lines and traced around these.
4. Get out your Mod Podge! Turn your screen face up (your image will be backwards) and paint in and around your image, filling up all the negative space (the parts you don’t want the paint to go). Take your time and make sure you cover it well. It’s really important to make sure you cover everything you don’t want paint! If you don’t, you’ll get little dots of paint in places you don’t want and you can’t remove the paint from the shirt. In my case, I chose to have some tiny spots uncovered because I was going for kind of a “sneezed on” look. If you get glue inside your image lines, don’t worry… you can spot fix those areas later.
5. Drying time! If you’ve got other things to do, just set your screen face up somewhere or even hang it on the wall! If you have no patience (like me) you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.
6. After your screen is completely dry, get out your pre-washed tee-shirt and lay it on a table. Make sure to put newspaper or cardboard inside to prevent paint from leaking through. Place your screen, fabric side down, on your image (your image should be right side up now). Double check that you have it right where you want it. Tape around the image with painter’s tape or masking tape. This will help keep the paint where you want it. Weight down your screen if you need to (sometimes I just use the mod podge bottle and a water bottle laying against opposing sides). Squirt some fabric paint onto the image. You won’t need a whole lot of paint. Using a small piece of folded cardboard like a squeegie, spread the paint around the image, making sure to get full coverage! CAREFULLY lift the screen to reveal the image below! Remember when I said not to worry if you painted glue where you didn’t want it? Take a second to dip your paintbrush into the fabric paint and do some spot fixing if you need or want it.
7. Set the shirt somewhere to dry (check the instructions of the fabric paint… most say 24 hours, but I found 12 is just as effective) and then go rinse off your screen in the sink… give it a good rinse to get all the paint off… and you can use it again!
8. When you’re done watching paint dry (teehee!) place a piece of paper (paper bags work good) over your image and set your iron to medium-low. Iron over the image for three to five minutes to heat set it.
9. Wear your one-of-a-kind tee-shirt and for pete’s sake… have someone physically restrain you from covering everything in your house with your D.I.Y. screenprints!
"booger" shirt for my son
"Ponytail Girl" shirt for my daughter
check out http://www.instructables.com/id/D.I.Y.-Screen-Printing/ for their version of the instructions (plus lots of other cool projects and ideas!)