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Learn How To Screen Print Your T-Shirts
If you love custom shirts and want to do a few on your own at home, it isn’t impossible to set up a simple screen printing system. However, and just to be clear, it isn’t going to be identical to what we use because we do our shirts on a professional quality automated system.
The ideas and the concepts are still the same and if you are patient, willing to practice a bit, and have a good eye for detail, this can be fun thing to do. It is going to be messy, we are warning you right from the start, and you will need to buy some special supplies before you get started.
The supplies to screen print at home, if you just want to do a shirt or two, are not going to be costly. You will want to get a screen and a frame; we recommend you just buy one already made at a craft store or online. You will also need a t-shirt as well as photo emulsion and sensitizer, screen printing ink, and a squeegee, all which are available at a craft store.
Oh, and to keep your hands free from the stain from the dye, have some good quality gloves at hand. We recommend heavier latex gloves over the thin first aid disposable gloves that can tear easily.
Start with a basic design that is just going to be in one color. Choose a simple shape or a simple font that will be easy to work with for your first attempt. Then, print this out on transparency paper using the font bold setting to give you the image.
Preparing the Screen
Combine the photo emulsion and sensitizer as per the directions, and coat the screen evenly using the squeegee blade. You should have a layer that you can’t see through. Let the treated screen sit in a dark space without light to dry (a closet works well for this purpose).
Once it is dry, take the transparency paper into the dark room and put it on the treated screen. Then, shine a 250 watt bulb on the area for about 15 minutes. Remove the transparency paper, and make sure the image has been transferred to the screen.
Next, rinse with water until the area under the transparency washes away. Dry naturally and place on your t-shirt, apply some ink and use the squeegee to distribute the ink over the image.
Then, all you have to do is let the shirt dry and voila, you have your very own, screen printed shirt.