Picture of At home silk screening on the cheap!
Silk screening can be fun, but it can also end up costing you a fortune. If you want to print your own clothes and bags, but are a poor starving student like I am, this is an easy and cost efficient way to add images to your clothes.
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Step 1: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started
Although there are a handful of things that you do need for this activity, most of them are everyday items that can be found around the house.

What you will need:
- Black and white image (printed or drawn)
- The t-shirt (can also be used on a bag, pants, whatever your heart desires)
- Fabric screen printing ink (I used a brand called speedball. Highly recommended and not a mission to find. Available at fabric and craft stores)
- A thick glue (mod podge is my favourite and is cheap and available everywhere)
- Embroidery hoop ($2.05 at Fabricland)
- A sheer material (I used an old pair of nylons that had a run in them)
- Pencil
- Paintbrushes (various sized depending on how detailed your image is).

Step 2: Finding an image

Picture of Finding an image
Find an image that you would like to use.

Remember that you are going to be tracing this image down the line, so if it is your first time doing this, you may want to chose an image with less detail.

Open it in Photoshop/MS Paint and convert the file to a black and white image.
When you've drained the photo of any colour, print it out and let's get started.

Step 3: The fun never stops

Picture of The fun never stops
Take the sheer fabric that you have found, as well as the embroidery hoop that you purchased for cheap. Stretch the fabric as tight as you can across the embroidery hoop, but it is delicate, so be careful to not stretch it too hard.

Once you have completed said task, take the image you have printed out (or drawn if you have a steady hand). Place the embroidery hoop face down against the image, so that the fabric is directly against your drawing, and using a pencil, gently trace the image onto your fabric. Remember, gently tracing is vital. I have known from experience that if you are using old nylons, the fabric can rip very easily.

When you are done tracing, even though you traced GENTLY, you should still be able to see a clear outline of the image you are drawing.

Step 4: Before you start painting on your t-shirt

Picture of Before you start painting on your t-shirt
Take your mod podge (or your white glue of choice) and fill up the areas of your image that you DO NOT WANT TO BE PAINTED. This is sometimes tricky for first timers to grasp, but it is vital in the completion of your t-shirt.

Again, fill in the areas that you do not want to appear on your t-shirt. See images to better understand.

Start with the areas closest to where you want the black ink to appear (image 1) and work your way out until you have enough of a border so as not to have paint drip into areas where you do not want to paint (image 2).

Step 5: Painting onto your shirt

Picture of Painting onto your shirt
Once you have made sure that the glue has completely dried, place the embroidery hoop face down on the t-shirt and slowly start inking the t-shirt. Make sure that it looks like it is fully set in, but don't feel that you need to apply too many coats to achieve a good quality image. It also might be helpful to place a piece of cardboard between the front and the back of your shirt, so that the ink does not bleed through the material.

When you feel that you are done, slowly peel off the embroidery hoop so as not to smudge the image you've just pained.

At this point, refer to the ink paint you are using in order to determine how long you must wait for it to dry. Waiting times vary from ink to ink.


Picture of GOOD AND DONE
At this point, your t-shirt should be ready to wear.

Put it on when you go out and show off how good of quality a t-shirt can be, even when not using expensive silk screening machines.
Anna Logg2 years ago
Um. Where did/does the dried up glue go?
reddoor5455 years ago
Would tulle be a good substitute for nylons?
raven756 years ago
excellent! great job have to try this. thank you for sharing!
Love this screen printing technique - I do it the same way myself ;-)
kit-kat6 years ago
Thank you I really hope I can do it. Kat
dchall87 years ago
I am sure Ingela found the other Instructable on this topic. I think it would at least be the polite thing to do to acknowledge the fact that you did your research first and still thought you should post another Instructable because you have something to add.

I did this based on the earlier version. For an image I took a picture and created a black and white image. Getting that right was the hardest part of the project, and it still came out wrong. Have patience and step back from the final image to make sure there are no problems. I tinted my Mod Podge with food coloring so I could see it. My table top was white and white Mod Podge was just too hard to see. I used inexpensive acrylic house paint (custom color from Home Depot) instead of the expensive Speedball paints. Acrylic house paint Never comes off a shirt. For a sheer material I got some cheap, not stretchy, lace at Wal-Mart. It was reasonably sturdy to transfer the design. To spread the paint quickly and evenly across the stencil I dumped a load of paint and spread it with an old credit card. As I recall all these hints came from Threadbanger's Instructable and the comments.

You can reuse the stencil if you clean the paint out quickly. You can make several prints at one time, but the paint (or ink) will start to dry and fill the holes, so keep the process moving and be ready with a hose to blow the paint out as soon as you are finished. If the paint dries, it is permanent. For that matter, you could probably use acrylic paint instead of Mod Podge to create the original stencil.
Kiteman7 years ago
Nice idea - can you re-use the screen at all, or is this strictly a one-off process?
gmoon7 years ago
What a cool technique! And much easier than typical silkscreening...
Babyshoes7 years ago
Cool! I would imagine that using a VERY soft, slightly blunt pencil for your tracing would be helpful in preventing rips in the nylons. Would a marker run with the paint, d'you think?
Wowzerz, that's awesome! It came out great too, and that's pretty funny. (The shirt, of course). Great job, hopefully I can do this!