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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.
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.