How to make, and print with, reusable silk screens... cheaply!

Picture of How to make, and print with, reusable silk screens... cheaply!
This Instructable will show you how to make your very own reusable silk screens for printing on fabric or paper. The silk screens you will make will produce a high quality image that will save you time and money. Unlike most silk screening Instructables I have found, this method allows you to silk screen without messy photo emulsion paste. One day I will get a fancy silk screen station machine and use the paste, but today, I am broke...

A Cricut cutting machine is great to have for these projects but you can easily make your own designs without one.

If you want to get started, just click through the steps!
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Step 1: Gather your supplies!

Picture of Gather your supplies!
The first step is to assemble the tools and items you will need. You may have most of the things you need around the house. If not, a trip to Michael's craft store or Jo-Ann's Fabrics may be in order.

Here's what you need to make the screens:

-As many frames as the number of screens you are making. (I recommend several since you will need more for multi-colored designs.) I used painter's canvas on pre-made wooden frames from Michael's. You can use old picture frames or make your own. The overall plan is to have a wood frame, 1" or more thick, that is sturdy and absolutely flat on at least one face. It must be flat so you get the best seal possible against your project.

-A good sharp utility knife.

-A medium to light duty staple gun.

-Sharp sharp fabric scissors.

-Small hammer.

-Blue painters tape, the wider the better.

-A fine mesh material like the one shown. I believe it is a nylon drape. Any fine mesh that is sturdy will do. Silk is obviously the original, hence the name. I purchased mine from Jo-Ann's Fabrics for about $6 per yard. (It was 50% off at the time, from $12) The fabric was in the Home Decor section on a large roll. 1 Yard should make quite a few screens. (I have tons left over after making 2.)

Then, to silk screen, you will need:

- Silk screen supplies to include whatever ink or paint you want to use, a squeegee (Which can be improvised with many different household items.), and garments or paper to be printed on. In this Instructable, my wife and I are making "onesies" for our soon-to-be newborn.

clday1 year ago
This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to prepare this instructable.
anony-mouse2 months ago

ooh that's sooo cool

kajun19505 months ago

Color sequence for layered colors

White –> Yellow –> Gold –> Light Green –> Light Blue –> Turquoise –> Orange Rinse –> Orange –> Brown (if you want it lighter) –> Brick (if you want it lighter) –> Pink –> Scarlet (Bright Red) –> Red –> Brown (if you want it darker) –> Brick (if you want it darker) –> Dark Red –> Black

If doing true separation CMYK print yellow, cyan, magenta then black by layers Corel and the others can give you the separation masks then cut individually on your plotter

kajun19505 months ago

FYI old pantie hose works or new QUEEN size for a buck at dollar tree

Mena1422 years ago
Good instructable. Black should be printed last tho.
jgroner (author)  Mena1421 year ago
Definitely last! I learned that the hard way the first time and I should have mentioned it here! Thanks!
diverdan3632 years ago
some emulsion film are cheaper than yudu version with the sheets costing about 5 or 10
each theirs a liquid emulsion alot cheaper. your idea mention use of a stencil cutter which have limitations on art is my only concern but for simple projects it looks easy enough thanks
That's awesome! Fun and you don't have to do this all every time since you can reuse :)