Introduction: D.I.Y. Screen Printing

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Once you start screen printing your original designs you won't want to stop.

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Step 1: Pick Out Your Design

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First, pick out the design that you want to use and print it out. Make sure it's the right size.

Step 2: Hoops and Fabric

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Now, get out your embroidery hoop and fabric of choice. Make sure a thinner woven mesh fabric is used.

Step 3: Stretch the Fabric.

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Now, stretch the fabric over the inner hoop and place the outer hoop over the fabric and inner hoop. Make sure the fabric is pulled tight through both hoops.

Step 4: Placing the Image

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Place the hoop over the image with the fabric facing down. You'll probably want to tape it to ensure it does not move around.

Step 5: Tracing the Image

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Trace the outline of your image onto the fabric with a pencil.

Step 6: Mod Podge Time!

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With a paintbrush, take some Mod Podge (water resistant glue) and paint all the negative spaces of the outline with the fabric facing up. Let it dry completely. This may take a while.

Step 7: Prepping the Shirt

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After your screen is dry, get out your shirt and place a piece of cardboard in the middle. This will prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back.

Step 8: Placing the Screen

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Now, place your screen on the part of the shirt you want to screenprint with the fabric facing down. Make sure you secure the screen with some weights so it doesn't move.

Step 9: Screen Printing!!!

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Next, take your fabric ink and "glop" a little on the screen. Then use a piece of cardboard to spread it around, making sure that the image is completely covered. Once covered SLOWLY peel the screen off of the shirt.

Step 10: Iron the Shirt

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Once the shirt has completely dried, get out your iron and set it to medium-high heat. Place a piece of paper over the print and iron for about two to three minutes. Be sure to rinse the ink from the screen before it dries.

Step 11: You've Just Screen Printed!

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Congratulations! You've just finished your screen printed shirt.


tmjartcreations (author)2016-05-05

I can't wait to try this thanks

FieraN made it! (author)2016-01-18

This technique is awesome and affordable! I used an old picture frame and it works awesome too. Although its not interchaneable with another screen, there a hundreds of cheap frames at the thrift stores waiting for good use! This is my favorite skill yet! THis is a shirt I made for our business!

BannersT (author)2015-09-25

thanks for the awesome

whitney668 (author)2015-07-11

thanks for the awesome and easy tutorial!

DanielBennett (author)2014-12-19

Nice Pictures. I really like this pictures. And if any one want more variety of

Screen Printing then visit

Angelique416 (author)2014-11-23

Can the templates be reused? If so, about how many times? Thanks!

nragavan (author)2014-02-04

Get a non-steam iron - cheaper and more eco than dryer. I wonder if leaving in a closed tincan in the sun all day would do it too, in a hot climate,

asanders10 (author)2013-06-06

I'm trying to help a local artisans' group start up a screenprinting business in Africa. This DIY for making the actual screen looks totally do-able with local materials, but I'm wondering if anyone has tried printing on t-shirts with plant-based or other natural dyes so that we can keep it local and not have to import dyes? I've seen the "red dirt shirts" on Maui and thought that might work. Also, there's no Hobby Lobby for several thousand miles. Any advice for a DIY Modge-Podge replacement? Cheers.

PAWZ (author)asanders102013-06-07

Get yourself on Pinterest! I've seen loads of recipes and homemade tutorials for Modge-Podge on there. Be warned though, Pinterest is very addictive! :-D

Courtneyjackson7 (author)2013-05-11

Ok. I am trying my hand at this screen printing thing with not much success. I bought the speedball kit and was trying to make prints on those fabric type bags. No luck. It looks as if the bag is too porous but I've seen screen printing on those types of bags before. The print was blurry and uneven. Help! These were supposed to be Mother's Day gifts.

razorwinged (author)2012-12-26

hi! i just wanted to let you know that because i like this instructable so much, i have added it to my silkscreen guide...

thanks for sharing your ideas!

TheGeek1984 (author)2012-10-14

*THE* simplest screen printing directions I've seen with the best result. Thank you *SO* much!!

swarnken (author)2012-05-18

You know its not that hard to make a proper frame (if you want to do any kind of volume) with a square wooden frame you take the regular nylon used for silk screening, glue two adjacent sides on the front of the frame then wrap the two remaining sides around and glue/epoxy them to the other side of the frame. Then to get that extremely tight nylon you just drive sharpened pegs down the edges of the frame tightening the nylon, then epoxy the last two edges on the front to keep the tension. glossy water based exterior house paint with extra tint added, I thought lasted longer on my clothes than most store bought printed shirts and was much much cheaper that purpose made silkscreening tint. And usually if you screw up and acidently let it dry on your screen you can take it off with fairly mild chemicals without damaging your original image.

swarnken (author)swarnken2012-05-18

I should say this method might work for any type of stretchy material..its so important to have a really tight tension so that when you squeegee across the image it only snaps down and touches in a sharp line of the squeegee, because otherwise the ink smudges around like a water color image.

e.simpson (author)2012-04-02

Head's up! Make absolutely sure that your iron is NOT on the steam setting. (If you have a built-in steam iron) This makes the design melt/stick to the paper and leave behind a fuzzy paper residue.


builderkidj (author)2012-01-18

I'm gonna make a half life shirt and a Portal shirt!

poor_leno (author)2008-10-19

I like this instructable a lot! Could a 'thinner woven mesh fabric' be something like womens' tights/stockings? Cheers

Mel Fischer (author)poor_leno2011-11-28

I use old sheer curtains that I find at thrift stores - the tighter the weave of the mesh the better. Gets you a ton of fabric for a very cheap price, and it's recycling an old product!

likls (author)poor_leno2010-03-09

I've found lace with a cool pattern to make a girlie florally pattern. I like it especially when making a picture of a bomb. Atomic weaponry + flowery sweetness = best anti-war tee ever.

I used nylon pantyhose and it worked great. Depending on the size of your frame/embroidery hoop, you will need to stretch the nylons to as taught as you can without causing tears. The weight of the mod podge on the nylons will cause it to stretch a bit after you wash it and it dries. If you get a slight run in the nylons after you've put it on your hoop/frame, it's okay as long as it isn't in a place where your screen will remain open. In other words, as long as you mod podge over any runs, they won't hurt you.

MagicScarf (author)2010-07-18

i tried to draw on my screen in pencil, and found it rather difficult, even though i had it tightly placed in the hoops, i had to pull the fabric around to make it tight enough to get the pencil marks on....i was wondering if other people have found something like a sharpie marker to be better, or if they were having problems with the pencil too? i might have bought the wrong material....i bought something that said 1005 polyester but it just didn't work out very the end the image was not very clean at all. my art was very finely detailed and small lines, i think i just botched the whole thing really. so i'll try again : )

Mel Fischer (author)MagicScarf2011-11-28

In addition to a higher mesh count for fine lines, Tension is also very important.

If your fabric was loose enough that you had to pull it around to make it tight enough to draw on, it wasn't tight enough overall to get a good print from it. You need your mesh to be as close to immovable as possible, so it holds the image in place when you draw your ink over it with your squeegee or what have you.

When I first started hobby screen printing, I made wooden rectangular frames and stretched old sheer curtain material over them, attaching it with a staple gun to get it as tight as possible. Works great for average detail designs and I still do this for one-off prints when I have t-shirt parties for my friends - it might give you better tension than an embroidery frame if you can't get it tight enough. :)

Don't give up! Screen printing is tons of fun!

Try using a higher count mesh for thinner lines and small lettering. 250 or 300 should be good.

cool, thanks for the tip tim.

GeekyGirl1103 (author)2010-02-22

Could I possibly use this with acrylic paints instead of fabric paints?

likls (author)GeekyGirl11032010-03-09

Nope. Acrylic is water-based, so it'll fade or wash out after a first try. Plus, it's not very flexy, so it'll crack straightaway when you wear it. Use regular (read: boring) fabris paint from a craft store.

mslaynie (author)likls2011-03-20

Nope... acrylic paint only washes out while it's wet. Once it's dried it's a solid flexible plastic. Believe me, I've got paint in some jeans back from my art school days that went through the washer and dryer many many times and didn't change a bit! :D

ecampbell1 (author)mslaynie2011-03-20

well, the problem isnt really that it washes out. It is mostly that it cracks and chips when it is on fabric.

Mel Fischer (author)ecampbell12011-11-28

I have a shirt that I hand painted with regular acrylic craft paints that has lasted for dozens of washes over the last 6 years. It has held up remarkably well. Cracking depends on how thickly you apply your paint. I only had issue with some white that required a lot of coats to get it opaque on my red t-shirt, after about a year or so it cracked a bit. Other than that, it has lasted just as long as any of the shirts I've screen printed using water colour inks or plastisol inks.

mslaynie (author)ecampbell12011-03-20

Tell that to my jeans! ;)

8bit (author)likls2010-12-02

It is water based, but it cures AND dries. Once it cures, it should be nice and water resistant.

use606 (author)likls2010-10-14

Ive been useing water based for a year or two and i havent had any fadeing or cracking on my custom abrams tank shirt.

kingmii (author)likls2010-07-08

are there any other paints/dyes i can use or is it only screen printing paint?

likls (author)kingmii2010-07-28

fabric paint works, but it's thicker.

kingmii (author)likls2010-07-29


nutsandbolts_64 (author)2011-08-02

Water resistant glue? That's it? Does regular Elmer's white glue work? It's just that not a lot of those other brands over there are existent over here, so I always have to improvise materials around here.

Never mind, Mod Podge glue is just a sort of decoupage glue. Decoupage glue could be made from regular permanent white glue mixed in with water at certain ratios. I'll go 3 parts glue to 1 part water as that is the ratio used to seal decoupage projects, so it might as well seal a fabric for use on screen printing. There we go, improvised!

mcecil kieffer (author)2011-07-06

I have screens that I've used on several shirts. Is there a chemical to remove all of the design. It is faint but has caused some problems.

mischka (author)2011-06-27

Thanks for this, cool idea to use mod podge glue as a filler.

xtacticalmonkeyx (author)2011-06-26

what kind of fabric did you use for the embroidery hoops? What kinds do you recommend

craftsrme (author)2010-05-15

I just spent major money on  screen printing equipment. Wish I would have found this earlier. Can you apply emulsion without a special tool? I need to find the easiest cheapest way.

suckrpnch (author)craftsrme2011-04-22

I haven't done this, but i thought I heard about using the spine of a magazine as a ghetto method as well...

You need a screen coater. You can get one on ebay for fifteen bucks or so.

akyramoto (author)2011-01-07

I finally got to try this, I used 'organza' fabric from the fabric store, it's cheap and it works great!!

On my 4th design, I love that it's simple and interchangeable, I can make multiple screens but only need a few hoops. I just have to remount them in the hoop when I want to use them, so I only need to store my loose fabric 'screens' rather than tons of wood frames.

nimajneb2 (author)2008-11-23

What does the ironing do? And how important is it? ( I don't have an iron )

you can throw it in the dryer for about 5 cycles instead =]

How long is a "cycle" in the dryer?

modus_operandi (author)nimajneb22009-05-08

my guess is the heat "sets" the ink/paint in place so it bonds better to the fabric doesn't come out in the wash :)

GreigBery (author)2009-07-20

Can you use the same screen multiple times - in a row and at a later date? How could you make a multicolored image? Great tutorial! Yours has made the most sense to me so far. Plus I love the idea of using the embroidery hoops!

for a multicolored image you would make multiple screens like for example the image they used you wold make the screen for the outline then make one for the inside area, but if you would do one with a border make sure that the inside design will overlap with the border, and print the border second, that way if you don't have the screens aligned properly, which might be hard with out a press there will be a little room for error and it will still look fine,

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