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It's time to make a splash with screen printing! Have you thought about personalizing swimwear, but you’re not sure what will hold up in the pool or at the beach?
I have good news! Screen printing is a great way to make a permanent design on your rash guard or swimsuit. Most swimwear is made with spandex and polyester. These materials can be challenging to screen print on, but it is definitely possible.
Personalize Your Swimwear with Screen Printing
If you are looking for a way to personalize your swim gear, screen printing with vinyl is a great way to make a permanent, custom design.
One of the reasons I prefer screen printing over iron-on vinyl (HTV) is that screen printing ink holds up better in the long run. It won't peel off after a few swims.
With your Cricut or Silhouette machine, you can cut any custom design to use as your stencil for screen printing.
Supplies Needed for Screen Printing
- Screen Printing Frame
- 9in Squeegee
- Fabric Screen Printing Ink (I used black)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- Economy Screen Printing Press or Pro Screen Printing Press (which press should I buy?)
- Blank Rash Guard or Swimwear
- Easy Press2 or Heat Press
How to Screen Print on Swimsuits or Rash Guards
The process of screen printing on swim gear is the same as screen printing on t-shirts. If you’re new to the process and still not sure you know exactly how to get started, check out my Screen Printing with Vinyl for Beginners course. In this easy to follow video course, I will show you everything you need to know to screen print with vinyl so you can start making better quality shirts at home using your Cricut or Silhouette today!
One thing to keep in mind when screen printing on a swimsuit is the design will stretch when worn. For some sizes, your 1-color press will help by stretching over the pallet. Screen printing the item while it is stretched out a bit will help prevent as much distortion when it's worn.
For this rash guard project, I used my screen printing press to take the guesswork out of the design placement. Rash guards are usually 100% polyester. I wrote about how polyester absorbs ink differently than t-shirts and the common challenges here. It is a huge comfort to know I can lower the screen back down and add more ink if I missed a spot on my first run or if I want to make the design more vibrant.
After screen printing the design on your swimwear, allow the ink to dry completely. If you have time, 2-3 days drying time is ideal. You can speed up this process by placing your item in a well ventilated area with a fan (or use a heat gun).
Once your swimwear is completely dry, heat press the design to make the ink permanent on your item. With your Easy Press2 or heat press set to 320 degrees, press for 40 seconds. For more ways to heat set your screen printed projects, check out 6 Ways to Heat Set Your Screen Printing Ink
Here's a quick look at the entire process.
Tips for Screen Printing on Swimsuits or Rash Guards
- Screen Printing on dark polyester with light color inks is hard to do. I always recommend using light color shirts with darker ink for the best results when using water-based inks.
- Try Speedball opaque inks if you want to try screen printing on dark polyester.
- Heat setting your ink on delicate materials like swimwear can be tricky. It is always best to test your item to make sure it can withstand the heat of your press.