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How To Make Screen Print Transfers

How To Make Screen Print Transfers

Screen printing is a technique that is useful for printing textiles, paper, and other materials. The process is easy, versatile, and relatively inexpensive.

In this article, we will show you first how to make a screen print transfer with a silkscreen frame and a squeegee. Then we will explain how to make screen print transfers with an embroidery hoop.

Ways To Make Screen Print Transfer

How to Make Screen Print Transfers with a Silkscreen Frame

In the first method, we will show you how to transfer prints by using a silkscreen frame and a squeegee.

  • Create a design for your silkscreen. Think of something interesting and draw it on a sheet of paper.
  • Make sure not to color or shade your design in because you are going to cut it out and use the rest as a template. If you are a beginner, draw the shapes far enough apart from each other because you don’t want the paper to tear when you start cutting.
  • Choose a sharp knife. A small Stanley knife for example is perfect to cut out all of the marked parts of your design. At this point, the most important thing is to make sure that the surrounding blank paper remains intact. If the paper tore in the cutting process, you will, unfortunately, have to start all over again.
  • Now make sure your template fits well on your T-shirt. If that is not the case, you will have to make a smaller one or modify it by cutting off the edges parallel to your former design.
  • Once you are satisfied with your template, place it on top of the material you want to print. Now take the silkscreen frame and place it on top of your just-made template. Make sure to place the template so that the gauze is exactly on top (they should touch each other) and make sure the handles are pointed upwards.
  • If there is space between the edges of the template and the edges of the window, it is advised to stick masking tape at the bottom. This is of utmost importance since you don’t want the paint to leak to places where it shouldn’t leak to. What you want is to recreate a clean and sharp reproduction of your template as possible. If you use masking tape, don’t stick the template to the mesh, since the stencil may shift if you go over it with the squeegee.
  • Now scoop some paint on top of the silkscreen frame. Make a line at the top of the frame (the part that is furthest away from you). Put enough paint on the frame to cover the entire template.
  • It is advised to use one color only since it is a bit difficult to use more than one color with this method. If you try multiple colors at once, the colors will mix with each other.
  • Now take the squeegee and spread the paint over the mesh. Try to do this by bringing the squeegee down only once. If this proves to be too challenging, you can try again, but try to use the squeegee as few times as possible. This will guarantee that the screen print will look as even and professional as possible. Always make vertical strokes when using the squeegee.
  • Once you’ve succeeded in covering the entire surface with sufficient paint, remove the squeegee. Then go ahead and scoop up the excess paint that’s above the handle so you can use the remaining paint again.
  • Finally, remove everything from the printed material. But be careful, if something shifts, the paint can be smeared. Therefore it is best to do the removal procedure layer by layer. Lift the layers one by one and then take them off. Now you will have to let it dry. The longer you can let it dry, the better the end result will be. It is advisable to let it dry in a warm and dry environment.
  • If you have decided to make your silkscreen print on clothing instead of paper you will have to follow one more step to ensure the durability of the print. To achieve this, you will first have to wait until the paint is totally dry. Once your paint is completely dry, you have to put a sheet of greaseproof paper or tracing paper on the design.
  • Now that you have placed the greaseproof sheet of paper (or tracing paper) on your design, you are going to want to grab your heat-press or household iron and iron it on. This process is going to ensure that your design will stay on the garment permanently. Furthermore, this technique will also ensure that your newly designed garment is going to be washable.

How to Make Screen Print Transfers with an Embroidery Hoop

Now we would like to show you another way to do screen print transfers. This method is going to be with the usage of an embroidery hoop instead.

  • Once again, you will first have to make the design you would like to transfer. If you have the right software, we advise you to make the design on your computer. If not, you can scan it with a scanner or a smartphone app.
  • Once your design is loaded onto your computer, you are going to want to print it. Keep in mind that a large, dark-colored, simple design is going to be the easiest to work with. Therefore, make sure to print the template in black and white or at least in dark colors. The most important thing to remember when producing your template is that you should be able to see the pattern clearly through the mesh you are going to work with.
  • Once printed you will want to check that the template is printed at the right size for your intended usage before moving to the next step. Moreover, your design should also fit into your embroidery hoop that you have available. Make sure that your design has the right size, is dark enough, and doesn’t leave any traces on the mesh.
  • Once your template is ready, place a piece of translucent fabric inside of the embroidery hoop that you have available. To use your embroidery hoop correctly, you will have to first unscrew the hoop so it opens. Once opened you have to pull the fabric tightly over the lower part of the hoop. Once this is accomplished, put the upper part back in place and finally screw the hoop to secure it all together tightly. If you are uncertain of the quality of your embroidery hoop, it would be advisable to check the firmness. You want to make sure it won’t release itself when following the following steps.
  • Don’t worry if you didn’t succeed in placing your design exactly in the middle of the embroidery hoop becasuse the exact placement of the template doesn’t matter.
  • Place the hoop on top of your pattern and start covering it. The fabric should touch the template. Use a pencil to trace your image on the fabric. If you make a mistake, you can always erase it and start over. Trace only the outline of your design.
  • Turn the embroidery hoop over so that the fabric is on top. Cover the outside of the pattern (where the tracing lines are) with a layer of glue. Don’t do this on your pattern, but around it. The glue acts as a barrier when you apply the paint, so if you get outside the lines it won’t show on the fabric. The paint will end up on the glue instead. It doesn’t matter where the glue goes outside the pattern, as long it doesn’t end up on the pattern. When you are finished, wait until the glue is completely dried. 15 minutes is usually long enough for the glue to dry.
  • Now put the framework in place. The translucent fabric should not touch the material you are printing and should be separated from it by the edge of the hoop. Smooth out the fabric under the frame to create an even surface. If you have screen print scraper available, use it to apply the paint to the fabric. Otherwise use a sponge brush, just make sure to hold the frame firmly.
  • Next, loosen the hoop and let the material dry. Be careful not to wipe the paint off when you take off the hoop. If the paint didn’t dry properly, it may bleed out. Give it at least fifteen minutes to dry. Iron the fabric and follow the instructions on the bottle of the specific ink or paint you used.
  • Now your garment is ready and can be worn or washed whenever you want.

DIY Screen Print Transfer Tips

  • Spread the paint only in one direction, otherwise, the paint will accumulate, making it more difficult to dry.
  • If you make a screen print on a T-shirt, put a layer of newspaper inside of the T-shirt. Since the paint can go through the fabric and make stains on the other side
  • If the edges of your template are rough or if it keeps tearing, you are probably not holding your knife properly or the knife might be dull. Hold your hand in a different position and try again and ensure it is razor-sharp.
  • You can copy designs from magazines instead of drawing one yourself
  • You can also print a photo and cut out parts of it that you like

Warnings About Making Your Own Screen Print Transfers

  • Paint stains, so wear old clothes
  • A hobby knife is sharp, so be careful. Always put the knife away or cover the blade when you’re not using it
  • Use a cutting board, so you won’t scratch your table

Supplies for Making Screen Print Transfers at Home

Silkscreen Method Supplies

  • Pencil/pen/colors
  • Cutting board or a durable surface
  • Colored paper
  • Sharp hobby knife
  • Dye, suitable for screen printing (textile paint or screen printing paint)
  • Silkscreen window
  • Fabric or paper to print on
  • Squeegee
  • Heat-press or iron (if you make a silkscreen print on clothing)

Embroidery Hoop Method Supplies

  • Designed pattern
  • Pencil
  • Translucent fabric
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush/ squeegee
  • Paint or ink suitable for screen printing
  • Heat-press or iron (if you make a silkscreen print on clothing)

Hopefully by now you know how to make screen print transfers and can do it with ease. If you have any other questions or comments about how to make screen printed transfers please feel free to leave a reply.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.