March 29, 2012

Screen Printed Robot T-Shirts

I mentioned yesterday that I screen printed t-shirts as favors for Soren's birthday party.  I love working with fibers, from raw wool to yarn to fabric, so of course I really enjoyed this craft.
I've printed and painted on clothing in the past, both freehand and with stencils (freezer paper is a great way to make a stencil), but since I was printing a dozen or so shirts, I had to find a method that allowed me to produce multiple prints.
I gathered my supplies, most of which I had on hand from past projects and from teaching.  You can find everything you need at my favorite supply shop, Dharma Trading Company, including a DIY screen printing kit.

I chose to do the screen filling method rather than the photo emulsion technique, just for sake of time.  But Ashley at Lil Blue Boo has a wonderful tutorial on how to use the photo emulsion technique.

Here's what I used:
Wooden frame screen| Screen filler | fabric inks | squeegee
cardboard | plastic spoon | t-shirts

First I set up the screen.  I printed out a robot image (also taken and modified from Lil Blue Boo. It saved me time in creating my own sketch), then lightly traced it onto the screen with a pencil.
Then I masked out any areas I didn't want to print with Screen Filler.  It basically clogs the holes of the screen fabric so that ink can't seep through, other than in the areas you want it to.  I painted the brown Screen Filler liquid on with a paintbrush.
(Ignore the green tape. At the time I thought it would be a bright idea for not having to paint the entire screen, however the tape just kept peeling off).  Allow to dry thoroughly (about an hour or so, to be safe).
Next I set up a work area outside.  It was more convenient for me, since I could just pin the finished shirts on the clothesline.

I stuffed a piece of cardboard inside the shirt (so the ink wouldn't go through the front and onto the back), then I centered my screen on the t-shirt, and added a dollop of ink along the top of the screen.
Next I pulled the ink down with my squeegee, making sure to push the ink into the image and onto the shirt.
I went over this a few more times, pushing the ink into the fabric. Then I slowly peeled the screen off of the shirt and hung it on the clothesline to dry.
Once the ink is dry, follow the instructions on the ink jar for "fixing" the image. In my case I ironed each shirt for one minute on high, but often you can toss the shirts in the dryer to set the ink so it doesn't come off in the wash.
I can make tons more t-shirts (or tote bags or other stuff) and then reuse the screen over and over again by washing it out with a special solvent.  So many possibilities are just teeming in my mind for fun summer tees.

8 comments:

  1. How CUTE are these?!?!? Awesome, as usual! :D

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  2. ooh, they turned out great! you're inspiring me to drag out my old crusty screens… actually, I've been wanting to blockprint some skirts for summer. Hmm.

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  3. Awesome project! Oh the possibilities....
    Thanks for sharing. Saw you on TT&J.

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  4. How did I never know that screen printing was so low-tech? I am already brainstorming some family photo tees for our summer vacation!

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  5. I think you should start a party-planning business. I'll definitely hire you!

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  6. Hurrah! These are darling. I love the little robot heart. :) What a fun party favor.

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  7. super cool and super cute idea!

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  8. Wow.. Cool idea..
    I really like your photo.
    last time i contact http://www.apparelnbags.com/custom-screen-printing.aspx for screen printing and i was very satisfied

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