Picture of (Kind of) Screen printing on the cheap
Usually, if I want a design on a t-shirt I will paint it, however there came a time when I found myself in a position of having volunteered to make 30 or so t-shirts with the same design and could not be bothered to paint them all freehand so I researched screen printing and have put this method together with what things I had to hand/were cheap
The only thing I had to buy for this was some black fabric paint (I had other colours but I wanted black!) and a sponge.

So, here goes...
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Step 1: Gather your ingredients

Picture of Gather your ingredients
You will need:
Something for the screen 
          This needs to be a thin mesh. I used tights because that's what I had in the house.
Something to hold your screen
          I used an embroidery hoop but you can use a wooden frame and staples
A design
          Unless you're very good with a paint brush and thick paint, go for something simple!
Something to block the design with
          You can use Mod Podge or PVA or special stuff but I used acrylic so I could see where it was
          Mine were ones I bought in the pound shop
Fabric Paint
          In the colour of your choice. You could probably use other paint but it might clog your screen up.
A sponge
          It doesn't need to be duck shaped like mine, that's just what Wilkinson had...

Will screen printing ink work any better, or just as good as, the fabric paint?

tech15101 year ago
I work for a screen printing company, when we put the shirt on the platen (in your case cardboard) we first spray it with "Tex-Tite". The spray prevents the shirt from moving while being printed, giving you a better quality print. Instead of buying specialty "Tex-Tite", you can buy generic Locktite repositionable/temporary spray adhesive. It is imperative to use repositionable spray or you will glue the shirt to the platen, also, it takes VERY little spray to tack the shirt down. Note: using the spray and cardboard combination might not work, I would recommend a cheap sheet of acrylic or similar, the paper would stick to the shirt... Great Instructable!
AJMansfield3 years ago
Now you're tell me the sponge doesn't have to be duck-shaped, after I spent like 4 weeks and $80,000 trying to obtain one!?!

JK :)
Colourful (author)  AJMansfield3 years ago
Haha I would be surprised if you'd spent 4 weeks trying to get one, seeing as I only uploaded this a week ago :P
Clearly AJ used this:

I would say, after having done something similar myself, pretty much any novelty-shaped sponge would work. For some reason, normal-shaped ones just look at me blankly, their invisible, judging eyes imploring me to take them back and trade them in for something more fun...

(Great tute, btw :) )
philobusta3 years ago
Very nice!!

I will definetly give this one a try!
doverman23 years ago
Not-so-pro tip: For those of you, like me, who have never done anything like this before in your entire life, there is a difference between fabric /dye/ and fabric /paint/. Hahaha Dye will just bleed your clothes a lot, I get the impression it's meant to completely change the color of the shirt. Details are non-existant, but if you just want a big dot, it might work?

As far as the actual screen goes, it seems to have worked pretty well so far, though I wonder if the first painting step could be skipped and the design traced onto the mesh with sharpie or something? The first level of paint didn't seem to do much for my mesh, and it worked better when I just picked it up and painted on it, rather than painting with it on the newspaper.

I haven't tried it that way, so it may not work, but just an idea?
Colourful (author)  doverman23 years ago
Ah yes, definitely use fabric paint rather than dye, dye will seep too much!

Painting straight on to the mesh without the paper behind does leave a better layer and so save time but I had problems tracing the design on to the screen as it stretched and buckled too much and didn't leave an outline that I could see well enough, also a felt tip bleeds too much through the mesh. A sharpie might work but I didn't have any to hand!
kjemielity3 years ago
you've saved me a ton of bucks!!! daughters airsoft group has been pestering me for t i can deliver!!
Monidaris3 years ago
Love it!!!!
Thanks for posting!
Absolutely Brillantey..
This is a truly good idea.. coz even my Bike Group Has T-Shirts, and getting it done from the professionals cost a Bomb. This will definitely give a personal touch and the rough and distressed look will go with the touring image we have. Thanks a Ton for this Instructable..

So simple, so BRILLIANT! I already have everything I need.

Love it :)

dangerine3 years ago
papoosue3 years ago
Nice work :) My daughter wanted to do just such a project a few weeks ago and we did it almost exactly the same as you did - same materials except that we used mod podge instead of acrylic pain - it was what we had to hand. I would agree with not getting paint on the embroidery frames (!) Ours turned out pretty well and daughter was very pleased with the results.

inkfzz3 years ago
guerilla screenprinting! i love it!!
Uncle Kudzu3 years ago
Now this is an interesting approach to printing on the cheap! I can't imagine it getting any more basic than this.

I've got the acrylic paint and my GF has a big embroidery hoop, so...
I've always wanted to try printing on fabric but was too lazy/cheap to buy the supplies. I already have all the stuff needed for this instructable and now I just have to decide what design I want to do first!

Thanks for the lovely, clear pics and instructions! :)
Colourful (author)  vanillasmoke3 years ago
Do everything! The screens take a while to dry so you can make loads while you're making the first. Or if you're incredibly impatient you can use a hair dryer!
Such a cool idea.I can definitely pull this off.

Kiteman3 years ago
Oh, I love this - finally a screen-printing method at my skill-level!
omnibot Kiteman3 years ago
Really? Coz I sort of expected this to be more "you":
this is so much more helpful
Kiteman omnibot3 years ago
That's rather cool, but if I wanted to screen-print a shirt, I would only be wanting to to do one or two, occasionally.
Colourful (author)  Kiteman3 years ago
Glad it's useful!
That's very clever. Thanks for the idea!
omnibot3 years ago
Nice one.
Colourful (author)  omnibot3 years ago
:D thank you