Wednesday, April 13, 2011

simple screen printing for small projects

My first Tutorial! I really enjoy screen printing with stencils and plan to run some short courses in my community by the end of the year. So as a bit of a practice I put this together.

I always thought that you needed a lot of expensive equipment to screen print. Not so at all, you can use a lot of cheap, easy to find craft supplies.

You will need:
1 Embroidery hoop plastic or wood (you can find these at a thrift store)
1 sheer curtain panel/fabric (Walmart sells these under $10 and you'll have heaps left over)
masking tape
craft knife
fabric paint
a piece of paper or thin plastic (Mylar) for your stencil
a simple picture for you stencil
an old bank card
a spoon

Note about paint: you can buy fabric paint at places like Walmart and it's a good way to get started and it's cheap. However if you enjoy printing, for a better result you can buy screen printing fabric paint like Speedball. This is a must if you buy or make a screen with actual screen printing mesh.

Put you fabric into the embroidery hoop and do up the screw.
Cut around the hoop leaving an 1/2 to and inch of fabric.
Then gently go around pulling fabric until it is tight and smooth across the hoop, to form the screen.

Printing: first you need to draw or trace your image onto you plastic/paper, then use a craft knife to cut out the areas you wish to be printed. I am using Mylar (plastic) as I will keep this stencil and use it again.

Align Center

Getting ready to print: first you need to tape you fabric to a smooth surface (put a piece of paper under it to make clean up easier), you want to stretch the fabric a little as you do this.

Set out an area beside where you are printing, covered in paper and place your paint here and a spoon (not pictured) this is so you can put your screen down in between prints and clean up.

Lay your stencil on the fabric, (some people tape it to the screen so it won't move however using a plastic stencil that bows means you can have a less than perfect print).

Place the screen on top of the stencil and fabric, I drew a boarder around my stencil so that I don't put ink over the edge, you can do this with tape if you tape the stencil to the screen.

Use a spoon to put a generous line of paint above the cut out part of the stencil.

Pulling the Paint: tilt your old bank card towards you, put it just above the line of paint, and with the other hand hold your screen in place.

Now pull the paint down till you reach just under the cut out area of your stencil staying inside the boarder. You can do another pull of paint if there are any areas that need or missed paint. (I usually do to pulls of paint)

Your bank card will have a lot of paint on it so put it down on the papered work area.

Last step, gently pull the screen up from one side. You can move straight over to another print if you have more fabric set up. The stencil will be stuck to the screen which is handy so just lay it down on the fabric as is.

If not take you screen to the sink and wash it out as paint left in the screen will dry and not come out. Also wash your stencil if it's plastic, your bank card and spoon.

This screen set-up can be re-used again and again, just let it dry out before you print again. You don't want to use paper towel to dry a your screen as the fibers can stay in the mesh and effect your next print.

Heat setting: once your print has completely dried you have to iron it on the highest heat setting within a week to set the paint, then it can be washed as needed.
*Different paint brands may have different guidelines so read their info before you do this step.

I hope you have as much fun with this as I do.


  1. that was an awesome tutorial!!!!

  2. why thank you, :) are you going to give it a try?