This instructable seeks to significantly reduce the cost of silkscreening small numbers of shirts. For years I'd wanted to try it, but I couldn't justify the cost. Even the $100 screenprint "systems" seemed too expensive; what if I didn't like it? what if the quality was crap?
As far as DIY methods I found, nothing quite scratched my itch. Because I didn't know if this is something I would even like, I didn't want to have big picture frames or emulsion chemicals lying around. I wanted something I could neatly stow away and play with when I felt like it.
This is the instructable I wish I had found many years ago. The goal here is that you can walk into a fabric/craft store, spend about $20, and walk out with everything you need to make some decent-quality prints.
This procedure is basically a mashup of two other Instructables. The fabric-hoop idea I got from here, and the adhesive vinyl idea I got from here. I added a few tweaks, and the rest is history.
Step 1: Required Materials
Printout - An image of what you want to silkscreen, mirrored from how you want it on the shirt.
Adhesive Vinyl - You can probably get this cheaper online, but I wanted to use something that I could buy locally. I used this stuff, designed for the Cricut vinyl cutter. (~$10)
X-Acto Knife - If you have a vinyl cutter, by all means use it. I don't have one however, so I used an x-acto knife (~$2.50) to cut my pattern into the vinyl.
Sheer Fabric - I used an old window-curtain, but you can buy this stuff at any fabric store for $5 a yard. You're looking for a mesh that's open enough to allow the ink to go through, but tight enough for the vinyl to adhere. (I think this would work)
8" Fabric Hoop - This will hold the fabric taut. I got mine for $1.29
Scissors - For cutting the fabric and vinyl roll. you don't need anything fancy. I'm not adding this to the cost because if you don't have scissors, you should probably buy a pair to have anyway.
Masking Tape - Used for transferring the vinyl to the fabric, and for masking-off unused areas of screen. (~$2)
Pencil & Pen - These are for transferring our image to the vinyl.
Silkscreen Ink -This is probably the biggest variable in the kit. I was able to spend $4 on a 2oz bottle of ink. Depending on the selection at your craft store, you may need to spend more on a larger amount.
Scrap piece of cardboard - Used during the inking process as both a backing and a squeegee.
And that's it. Cheap! Some of this stuff you may already have. The rest you should be able to source locally. I'll be inking one item for this Instructable, but there is enough stuff here to make many more screens without needing to buy anything else.