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In this article, we will show you first how to make a screen print transfer with a silkscreen frame and a squeegee. After which we will show you another popular method, with the usage of an embroidery hoop.
Finally, we will conclude this article with some important Tips and Warnings. So make sure to read this article in its entirety to get the full picture of what might be involved.
Screen printing is a printing technique that is especially useful for printing on textiles, paper, and other materials. The process is easy, versatile, and relatively inexpensive, so everyone should give it a try. This article will help you get started.
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. First of all, you will of course need to come up with a design that you are going to want to transfer to your target paper or fabric. Think of something interesting and draw it on a sheet of paper.
Make sure to not color it in, and also do not shade it since you are going to cut it out and use the rest as a template. So keep it simple at first. An irregular pattern with geometric shapes and circles is the easiest design to make and will also be easier to cut out afterward. Draw the shapes far enough apart from each other if you are a beginner since you don’t want the paper to tear when you start cutting.
- Choose a sharp knife. A small Stanley knife is for example going to be perfect for this job, to cut out all of the marked parts of your design. At this point, the most important is to make sure that the surrounding blank paper remains intact. Felicitations, you have now created your first silkscreen template! But if the paper tore in the cutting process, you will, unfortunately, have to start all over again. Therefore we advise you to be very careful and work accurately.
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 the template on top of the material you want to print (paper or fabric). 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 the handles 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). You certainly are not going to want any paint on the stencil right now. Scoop as much paint on the window as you think is enough 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 it anyway, be aware that the colors will mix with each other. But if you don’t mind taking a little risk, give it a try.
- 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 apply the squeegee as few times as possible. This will guarantee that the screen print will look as even and professional made as possible. Always make vertical strokes.
Because if you make both horizontal and vertical strokes, the paint will accumulate. And if the paint accumulates, it is going to make it more difficult for the paint to properly dry and leave you with a less than perfect finish. Once you succeeded in covering the entire surface with sufficient paint and got to the bottom of the frame, you remove the squeegee. Now, go ahead and scoop the excess paint 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 out. 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. We do advise though to keep the washing temperature as low as possible for increased longevity.
Now we would like to show you another method. This method is going to be with the usage of an embroidery hoop instead.
- Once again, also with this method, you will first have to make the design you would like to transfer. If you have the right software, we would advise you to make the design straight inside of your computer. If not, you could scan it also with a scanner or a smartphone app.
- Once your design is ready inside of 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. Hence 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. Except if of course you want to purchase a bigger embroidery hoop instead. If for some reason you rather do not want to use the image editing software that is on your computer, you can also draw something by hand. Just 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, but 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 acquired. You want to make sure it won’t release itself when following the following steps. But there is no need to worry if you did not succeed in placing your design exactly in the middle of the embroidery hoop. Since the exact placement of the template doesn’t matter.
It does not matter, since you are only going to use the material that is inside of the embroidery hoop anyway. If you don’t have a specialized screenprint mesh to put on your frame, you could also use thin curtains for example. Translucent curtains are perfect for this application. The most important to keep in mind is to choose a neat fabric that is not completely transparent.
- 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, 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. A quarter of an hour should be enough, depending on the glue.
- 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 a screen print scraper to your disposition, use it to apply the paint to the fabric. Otherwise use a sponge brush, just make sure to hold the frame firmly.
- Loosen the hoop and let the material dry. Be careful not to wipe the paint 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 could be worn and washed whenever you want, congratulations!
- Spread the paint only in one direction. The paint will otherwise 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 pull 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.
- Alternatively, you can copy designs from magazines instead of drawing one yourself (for personal usage of course)
- You can also print a photo and cut out parts of it that you like
- 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
- 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
- Heat-press or iron (if you make a silkscreen print on clothing)
- Designed pattern
- Translucent fabric
- Embroidery hoop
- Paintbrush/ squeegee
- Paint or ink suitable for screen printing
- Heat-press or iron (if you make a silkscreen print on clothing)