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I wasn't sure screen printing on a hat would be possible until I found Carmichael Workshop's Hat Platen (available on Etsy). This wooden hat platen gives you the base that you need to flatten the hat surface for screen printing. I made one addition to his platen after it arrived in the mail. I found that flipping the hat around would allow me to add a hinge frame to the base. This is a little different than how Steve demonstrates using his hat platen. Similar to how I use a screen printing press for t-shirts, I am able to lift the screen between coats of ink until I have the desired amount of ink on the hat. This reduces the number of mistakes and I was able to get consistent results with my screen printing process.
The first part of this tutorial video shows you how to add the hinge frame to the hat platen. Next, you can see how I use my new contraption to screen print hats!
How to attach a hinge frame to the hat platen
- Secure hat to the platen.
- Line up the hinges from Speedball's hinge frame kit. I like to have the hat on the platen, so I can ensure the screen is mounted just flush with the hat.
- Not shown in video: After you line up the hinges, measure the distance from the top of the hinge to the top of the platen.
- Set the screen aside and screw in the hinges to the platen using your measurement from step 3.
- Place the screen back in place to determine the placement for the top hinges.
- Screw in the hinges to your Speedball frame.
- You are ready to screen print!
Supplies Used in this Tutorial
- Carmichael Workshop's Hat Platen (available on Etsy)
- Speedball's Hinge Frame Kit
- Speedball Fabric Ink
- Cricut Premium Vinyl OR Oracal 651
- Cricut Maker
- Transfer Tape (this tape is key to getting your vinyl to stick to the screen)
- Painter’s Tape
- Blank Hats (hats in tutorial found at Walmart but you can also find blank hats here)
- Clamps to hold hat in place
- Cricut EasyPress Mini to heat set the ink
Tips for Screen Printing on Hats
- I found that unstructured or foam hats worked the best because you could flatten them easily to get a smooth surface to screen print on.
- While 5-panel hats are typically used for screen printing, I was able to use these unstructured hats with a seam down the middle and had no problems. If your cap has a large seem down the middle, you may have trouble getting even ink in this area.
- The hinge frame that I added to the hat platen helped me lift the screen of evenly. When I tried without the hinge setup, it was very difficult to put the screen up without shifting and smearing the wet ink.
- Too many squeegees of ink will cause bleeding. Since the hat material doesn't soak up the ink quite as well as a t-shirt, you will use less ink. Having the hinge setup allows you to check the hat between coats until you have the desired amount of ink. You can also use a heat gun or hair dryer between coats to quickly dry the ink befor e adding another layer.
- Allow your hats to air dry, then heat set the ink to make it permanent. Cricut's EasyPress Mini is perfect for heat setting hats.