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Are you in charge of making your family reunion or vacation shirts for a large group? Using HTV for a large quantity of shirts can be time consuming to weed (and expensive). I found that screen printing with my vinyl is a great way to make multiple shirts with the same design. With one or two vinyl cuts, you can make 20, 30, 40 shirts or more!
Creating Your Design
Creating the perfect t-shirt design is the first step. I create my designs in Illustrator and import them into Design Space for cutting. If you aren't comfortable creating your design from scratch, Etsy is a great place to start searching for pre-made reunion designs. Most of the designs you find here can be personalized easily by just adding in your family name. For my reunion shirts, I wanted to incorporate the name of our favorite family vacation spot rather than our last name. This is a great idea for large families with a variety of last names!
Picking the Right Shirt
Making sure you have the right fit for everyone is an important part of ordering shirts for your family or group. I was excited to try Hanes Nano t-shirts for this project. The unisex sizing was a perfect fit for everyone. They are not as boxy as some brands but still fit true to size. The 100% cotton is likely to shrink some in the wash, so the extra length on these shirts will keep them fitting well, wash after wash. My favorite part about these shirts is the soft feel. They are so comfortable to wear but not too thin! You can find these shirts for just over $3 which is a great price when you need to order a large quantity of shirts. I used black Speedball Fabric ink on light blue shirts.
How to Size the Design
I had shirt sizes ranging from 2T to 3XL for my family. With this wide range of sizes, I used 2 different size designs (2 separate cuts on my vinyl machine). For the 2T shirt, my design was 6.5″ wide. For the adult and youth sizes, I was able to use the same 9.5″ wide design. Depending on your design, you may want to create separate adult and youth sized designs. My design worked great at 9.5″ on a Youth Small through 3XL.
Once you have designed your graphic, purchased your t-shirts, and determined the best sizes to cut your design, you are ready to get started making!
Basic steps to making your own screen printed t-shirts:
- Cut the design on your Cricut Maker or vinyl cutter. Be sure to mirror your design when you cut. I also like to add a box around my design and a circle. See my circle trick for lining up the design on shirts.
- Weed your design, removing the parts of the design that will be filled with ink.
- Transfer your vinyl to your Speedball screen. I use the Speedball 10×14 frame and have found that this Transfer Tape is a game changer. Other brands don't release the design as easily and you may get frustrated not being able to get your design to stick to the screen.
- Cover the open edges of your screen with painters tape.
- Line up the screen on your shirt and squeegee the ink over the screen.
- Lift your screen to reveal your design! Immediately place the screen on your next shirt and repeat the process.
- Allow your shirts to lay flat to dry for 24-48 hours.
- Heat set the shirts using a heat press, Easy Press 2 or iron. More about heat setting Speedball fabric ink.
- Distribute your shirts and take a family photo. If you post on Instagram, be sure to tag me @pigskinsandpigtails. I would love to see your handmade family reunion shirts!
For more detailed, step-by-step instructions on screen printing with vinyl, check out my ebook “How to Screen Print with Craft Vinyl in 10 Easy Steps”. This guide walks you through each step of the process in more detail and includes tips for common mistakes, steps for screen printing multi-color designs and how to clean your screen.
Supplies Used in this Tutorial:
- Cricut Maker
- Hanes 100% Ringspun Cotton nano-T® T-Shirt in Adult and Youth sizes
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Transfer Tape (this stuff is the best for getting your vinyl to stick to the screen!)
- Speedball 10×14 frame
- Speedball Squeegee
- [amazon_textlink asin='B001038NLY' text='Speedball Fabric Ink' template='ProductLink' store='pigpig0b9-20′ marketplace='US' link_id='4949f392-4cea-4ec7-8010-7e3242d8e2c3′]
- Screen Printing Press
- Painter's Tape
- [amazon_textlink asin='B000V1QV7O' text='Exacto Knife' template='ProductLink' store='pigpig0b9-20′ marketplace='US' link_id='c32cfb3b-7ff0-4b91-aeea-d4d9f30efa8b']
- Heat Press
We had such a great family getaway at our most favorite spot on the Colorado River. The shirts everyone took home are a great reminder of our time together.
They look fantastic! Love this tutorial and would love to request one on multiple shirts using multiple colors ie:Disney vacation shirts. I need 7 for our upcoming trip and they have 3 colors…think I have my game plan but would love to see your process first if possible. You save me from making big mistakes. Thanks so much for all your tips!
I love this post!!! I am making logo T-shirts for another small business with shirts ranging from 18M-6T and L-3XL. So I wasn’t sure how many different size stencils I should make! I’m happy to see you only used one size for the youth shirts and one size for all the adult shirts! Thanks for the post!
So glad you found this helpful! Good luck with your order!
Do you do anything special to keep the vinyl on the screen fabric? I tried to do 14 shirts with the same screen and the vinyl came loose after about 7 shirts.
Couple things that help… I don’t touch the vinyl once I start with the ink. I’m careful to prop up the screen between shirts when I’m not using it. Then, press hard with the squeegee so you don’t get a ton of ink pooling up. Thin coats work best for me. Keep trying.. it takes a little practice to get the hang of the ink.
Thank you so much for posting! I have just started screen printing and while I love it, I’m making some big mistakes! I noticed with the press you are able to go back and forth with the ink, but on the table, you go in only one direction. Is this a difference with the press or just a happenstance? Thank you!!!
I’ve found it works best if you squeegee in just one direction. I always pull the squeegee towards me. On my press, you’ll see me go the other direction when the screen is lifted above the shirt. This is called a flood stroke and it helps spread the ink over the screen. Then, when I put the screen down and pull the ink, I’m able to get a more even coverage. I hope that helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out!
When doing multiple shirts, how do you store the freshly printed shirts while the ink dries before you can use the heat press?
I spread them out all over my room…. on the backs of chairs, on the floor 🙂 If you follow me on instagram, I posted a picture in my stories this morning of boxes drying on my floor. haha! If you don’t have room to lay them out, you can carefully use a heat gun (https://amzn.to/2ZKPzmQ) to dry them so they can be hung.
Thanks for this post. I am making about 150-200 shirts. I was wondering if it would be better to put the stencil on the screen then mod podge the area you don’t want the ink to go and then screen print. Didn’t think the design would hold up for that many shirts….I tried to email you on your website and got an error message and then I left you a comment on your you tube video about the scratch off valentine card (very cute). Some of the letters have a tiny dot (like the upper part of the letter “A” and I don’t think it will stay on the screen for long. Looks like you are the expert and any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I could send you a picture if you want. Thanks so much for your time.