Are you a HTV (heat transfer vinyl) addict like me? I have been designing shirts for my girls for years. While I enjoy creating shirts with HTV, I have always preferred wearing screen printed shirts. Recently, I tried screen printing and I’m hooked! It’s a rather simple process and you need just a few new supplies. You’ll continue to design and cut your vinyl with your vinyl cutter (like the Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explore Air 2) but you use Oracal 651 outdoor vinyl instead of HTV. The adhesive vinyl sticks to your screen. When you squeegee ink over the screen, it goes through the screen except where the vinyl stencil is covering.
I’m excited to share my process for DIY screen printed shirts…..
Supplies You Will Need:
- Vinyl cutter (like the Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explore Air 2)
- Speedball Screen (I’m using the 10-Inch-by-14-Inch Screen. If you want to screen print larger designs, they do make larger sizes)
- Speedball Squeegee
- Speedball Ink
- Painters Tape
- Oracal 651 Vinyl (any color)
- Transfer Tape
- Parchment paper or wax paper to put inside shirt to prevent ink from going through to the other side.
- Scissors or X-Acto knife to cut transfer tape
- A digital design that you will cut on your vinyl cutter.
- Blank T-Shirt
- Cut your design on Oracal 651 with the image mirrored (like you would cut HTV) and pick out the parts of the design that will be painted.
- Apply transfer tape to your vinyl.
- Transfer design to screen
- Remove transfer tape
- Tape exposed areas of the screen
- Put parchment paper inside of shirt
- Place screen on shirt, ensuring the design is exactly where you want it on the shirt.
- Add paint to screen
- Squeegee paint over screen
- Lift screen to reveal your screen print design. You can reuse the screen and repeat steps 7-9 to make multiple shirts with the same design.
- Lay your shirt flat to dry overnight. Once the ink is completely dry, you will need to heat the shirt to cure the design. You can use a heat press or run an iron over the design (be sure to put down a thin cloth or piece of parchment paper so ink doesn’t get on your iron/press.
Have you ever needed to make multiple shirts? This is where screen printing becomes more economical (and time saving) over HTV. HTV can get expensive when doing a bunch of shirts. With screen printing, you can reuse the same stencil over and over. I recently did M&M t-shirts for Halloween. I used one stencil (one 9×9 vinyl cutout) 12 times!
A few last tips before you give it a shot….
- Be sure to wash your screen and squeegee right after you are finished so the paint doesn’t dry in your screen.
- If you wish to layer colors or screen print on the other side of your shirt, allow the paint to dry for several hours first.
- It will take some trial and error to get the hang of how much ink to use. I usually make 2-3 squeegees with the ink. If you apply too much ink, your shirt will feel stiff and the ink may crack. If you don’t apply enough ink, your design may look faded.
I’d love to see your screen printed projects. Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@pigskinsandpigtails).