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Screen Printing T-Shirts with IKONART Stencil Kit

Apr 16, 2020 | Custom Projects, Project Ideas, Screen Printing

AD: If you are interested in learning how to screen print at home, the IKONART Custom Stencil Kit is a great solution. This kit allows you to print your own designs (on an inkjet or laser printer) and screen print with them.

I shared a couple months ago a tutorial using the kit to screen print on a chalkboard. Typically, my screen printing process uses adhesive vinyl on a screen printing frame. But, this kit comes in handy when I have a surface (like a chalkboard) where my bigger screen won’t fit. It’s also perfect for those complex designs that you don’t want to weed in vinyl. This particular project would have been a pain to weed. With the IKONART kit, you just print the design in black ink, so no weeding!

And, to make things even better, IKONART just released a new purple textile film. This film works great on t-shirts or any kind of fabric surface. In this tutorial, I’m going to share how I used one film design to screen printing on multiple shirts.

learn how to screen print ikonart

Supplies Needed for This Tutorial

The kit includes the exposure unit, light sensitive stencil film, printer film for both inkjet and laser printers, clipboard to help hold the film and squeegee.  Need help setting up your kit? The beginning of this video shows my unboxing and setup process.

You will need:

Step-by-Step Instructions

ikon art screen printing on t-shirts

Step 1: Print Your Design in Black and White

If you typically screen print with vinyl, like I do, this kit comes in really handy for those projects that are too detailed to cut and weed in vinyl.  It’s also really helpful when a customer sends you artwork that is not in SVG or vector format.  On your computer, make sure the design is black and the background is white.  I used Photoshop to setup my design this way but you can use any program that works for you.  Print the design on the included printer film, printing on the milky side of the sheet.  I used my Canon Pixma InkJet printer set to “High” quality on the print settings.

I followed the recommendation to print my design mirrored.  This is a setting I adjusted in Photoshop before hitting print.

Step 2: Expose Artwork on the new IKONART Light Sensitive Textile Film

For this step, I used the new IKONART textile film (the purple one) because I am printing on t-shirts.  The purple film is stickier than the original film, making it easier to work on fabrics.

You’ll want to work in a dark space with the lights out!  Put the included matte black cardboard on your unit first.  Then, place a sheet of the light sensitive film down.  Align your artwork on top of the film.  Cover everything with the clear sheet (included).  Plugin your exposure unit and allow the light to hit the film for 35 seconds. That’s it!

Step 3: Washout Film with Spray Nozzle

Using a household sink with a spray nozzle, wash out the design.  The kit includes a clipboard that you can attach the film to, making it easier to hold on to in the sink.

how to use ikon art stencil kit

Step 4: Air Dry for About 45 Minutes

After you have washed out the film, use a paper towel to blot dry both sides of the film.  The film needs to air dry before use, so I hung mine for about 45 minutes.  If you are anxious to get started with your project, you can speed up the drying with a hair dryer or fan.

Step 5: Apply Adhesive Film to Your Surface

Peel off the clear backing and apply the sticky side of the film to your shirt.  I went slowly to eyeball the design – making sure it was centered.

The key to getting a good print is making sure the film is stuck to your surface so it doesn’t move around.  I found that using a damp cloth to blot the back (adhesive side) of the film activated the stickiness even more.

screen printing diy kit at home

Step 6: Squeegee Fabric Ink Over the Film

This part was very familiar to me.  I used the IKONART squeegee to spread the Screen Printing Ink over my design.  Once I have covered the entire design, lift off the film to reveal the print!

Step 7: Place the Film on your Next Shirt and Repeat the Process

This part can get a little messy.  Be careful not to transfer ink from your hands to your shirt!  Carefully place the film on your next shirt and repeat Steps 6 and 7.

I found that setting the film down on a scrap piece of material between prints was the best way to prevent ink from smudging on the back of the stencil.

Step 8: Heat Set Your Fabric Ink

After your Speedball fabric ink is completely dry, you need to heat set the ink in order to make it permanent on the shirt.  This will allow you to wash the shirt without fading!

screen printing detailed designs

Can you make more than one shirt with the film?

Yes! You can make multiple shirts with one film design. Just lift it off the first shirt and immediately apply it to the next one – no need to wash it off in between.

I learned that it’s helpful not to get ink too close to the edge of the film.  On one of my attempts, I got too close to the edge and got ink on the shirt.  Plus, it was hard to pickup the film when ink was so close to the edges.  The trick, I found, was to use the small plastic squeegee that comes with the kit rather than my larger screen printing squeegee.  This allowed me to be a little more accurate with my ink coverage.

Why should I get the IKONART Kit vs. Screen Printing with Vinyl?

I use both methods!  Typically, I will use my screen printing with vinyl technique on most projects.  But, if there is a design that is too complex to cut on my Cricut Maker, the IKONART kit is my go-to method.  You can get fine details like shading lines and sketched lines that wouldn’t cut and weed easily in vinyl.  I also use the kit on projects like this chalkboard where my Speedball frame would not fit.

If you don’t own a vinyl cutter like a Cricut or Silhouette, but want to do some occasional screen printing, the IKONART kit would be a great way to get started.

IKONART Discount Code

I’m excited to be partnering with IKONART to offer a deal just for you!  Use the coupon code PIGSKINSANDPIGTAILS for 15% off your entire order.  This includes the new textile film!

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