Introduction: How to Screen Print an Ugly Christmas Sweater for the Artistically Challenged

Scenario: You are invited to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party and you want to up your game with a little bit of DIY. You have lots of design ideas but you are not very artistically inclined. Here is how you can get a little help from your friends on the internet and still make a one of a kind Ugly Christmas Sweater that you might even wear after the party is over.


Your favorite ugly graphic. Tip: the simpler the better. You will need to convert this design into a stencil so the more intricate it is, the harder it will be to make the stencil. A good place to look is

A sweater to put your design on.

Black Sharpie and other color Sharpie.


Fine Mesh Cloth (look for chiffon at the fabric store).

Embroidery Hoop.

Paintbrushes (one fine tip and one not so fine will do).

Modge Podge.

Home made squeegee (instructions included)

Screen Printing Ink.


Some planning. There are 2 steps that require overnight drying.

Step 1: Trace Your Graphic

Once you have a printed copy of the graphic you want to use, use a Black Sharpie to trace the outline of it.

Press relatively hard so the ink will bleed throw and allow you to see the tracing on the other side of the page.

Tip: you may skip this step if your image is not very intricate and/or is already on a blank background. The purpose of this step is just to give you the simplest design to work from.

Step 2: Trace It Again

Turn your page over and trace it again with a different color. I used a Sharpie with a slightly finer tip. Make sure to wrap over each line to create an outline of it.

Each line on your first trace will now have an inner and an outer edge, which creates an easier to see "negative space" (the space which will not be filled in with color).

Tip: you can skip this step and do it directly on the fine mesh if you are a confident tracer, but if you are like me and will need a couple tries to get it right, I recommend doing it this way first. It is basically impossible to erase the pencil tracings you make on the fine mesh (trust me, I tried).

Step 3: And Again!

Stretch your fine mesh over the embroidery hoop until it is nice and tight. Set it on top of your drawing and trace it with a pencil once more.

Step 4: Ready for Modge Podge

Use a fine paint brush to start filling in the spaces that you DO NOT want ink in.

You can use a slightly thicker brush to fill the edges. Be sure to modge podge all the way to the edge of your hoop so that no ink accidentally bleeds through.

Let it dry overnight.

Step 5: Ink!

To make a squeegee, use a disposable plastic container (like what yogurt or sour cream comes in). You basically just cut a rectangle out of it with at least one nice flat edge about 3 inches long (see mine sitting next to the screen printing ink on the picture). There is really no wrong way to do it. You are going to use this to drag the ink on the screen.

Place your embroidery hoop with the dry modge podge where you would like the design to go.

Hold on to the hoop tightly so it doesn't move around. Plop some screen printing ink on, and drag it around with your squeegee. Be sure to press hard and make 2 or 3 passes over the entire thing. Once you lift the screen you don't really get a redo, so make sure to push the ink through the entire screen, don't leave any bare spots.

Slowly pull up your screen and TA-DA! Check out your design.

You can repeat this process in different spots on your sweater if your design lends itself to a pattern. Take care not to smear fresh ink with the screen.

If you want to switch colors you will have to rinse the screen thoroughly, let it dry, and then apply the new color.

Let it dry overnight.

Step 6: Iron

Once your design is completely dry (see instructions on ink bottle), you are going to pass the iron over it for a couple minutes and then do the same thing with it turned inside out. NO STEAM!

Step 7: Add Embellishments!

Make your sweater extra ugly with embellishments. You can use:



-Cotton balls

-Random Christmas ornaments

-Battery operated Christmas lights

-get crazy!

Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge