Make a shirt! Screen printed!
Materials needed: a t-shirt, yucky/cheap paint brushes, an embroidery hoop, screen printing ink (I use Speedball brand), a glue that isn’t water-soluble (I use Mod Podge), curtain sheer material/tulle/old nylons, and a computer with a printer (or a good hand for drawing things).
Find an image you like and that has good contrast. My cow needed to be “cut out,” and I’ve only got Microsoft Paint on this computer and it worked fine.
Save the image as a Monochrome Bitmap file and it will turn it black and white. If this loses all the detail, fudge around on Paint or try a different picture, haha.
Print it out so the image is the size you want it on the t-shirt (and also so it’s not bigger than the embroidery hoop you spent ¢67 on).
After pulling the sheer curtain material/tulle/old nylons tight across the embroidery hoop (and screwing it shut real good), trace the image onto the material with a pencil with the material close to the paper, not upside down so it’s far away.
You should be able to see the pencil outline easily without squinting too hard. If it’s too detailed, fudge some more.
Turn the thing over and with the glue, paint all the “negative space,” (all the places you don’t want ink to go, the white space). Make sure the material isn’t touching whatever surface you’re working on otherwise you’ll end up gluing the whole thing down, obviously.
Some people say you can use tape to fill in the bigger area, but I think that painting the glue on all over the larger spaces is the best part, but do what you will.
After the glue dries, center the image on the shirt face down, and I sort of stipple the ink through the material making sure it’s fully saturated, but also making sure not to glob it all over the place.
Carefully peel it back, wait for it to dry, and follow the “setting” directions on the ink (mine is to iron it on medium 3 – 5 minutes each side with a piece of cloth/paper between the iron and the ink).
I hope that helps some!
(Edit 5/11/06: I get emails when comments are made and will always try my best to answer questions, even if they have been answered in all these pages of replies. No need to come to my personal journal to drop notes; I get them–I promise!)
(Edit 8/13/06: Here is a brief FAQ I compiled that might help some people with their questions so that they don’t have to scroll through all these pages of comments trying to find it or emailing me with them.
What paint? What glue?
Speedball brand Screen Printing Ink and Mod Podge glue are both what I use. I don’t like the way fabric paint looks on fabric and I’ve never tried acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium, though I know people have gotten results to their liking with both. Mod Podge is a non-water-soluble glue. It cannot be washed out once it has dried. I buy both at Hobby Lobby and have no idea where else they are carried.
My printed image looks pixelated and rough; help!
If you used nylons/tulle, that’s probably why. I like those two fabrics if you’re really on the low-cost side of DIY, but a sheer curtain material works much better as the “weave” of the fabric is much tighter, making a more detailed screen/print.
Will the ink bleed through to the back layer of my shirt?
Maybe. Use caution as you would when working on a shirt any other time–put some newspaper between the front and back.
Can I print on other things?
Yes, so long as you use the right type of ink/medium mixed in your acrylic paint. Speedball makes ink for metal/wood/plastic (I believe) and there are a number of mediums you can purchase for your paint.
Can I wash out the glue?
No, that’s the whole point. The glue doesn’t wash out so you can use the screen with the same image over and over again. I think it’s a little too much effort to make to use just once; if that’s what you want, I’d do a stencil instead.
How do I do more than one color?
I’m sure you can separate layers in Photoshop and such and make multiple screens, but I’ve yet to try it out myself.
I’m from Such and Such publication; can I reprint this tutorial?
Please email me: kristyk51 at yahoo dot com.
Eat meat, stupid.
This is a stupid idea.
Then don’t do it.
I’ll probably continue to edit this as needed. Thanks!)