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Who knew that 2020 would introduce masks as part of our daily wardrobe?! Currently, we are required to wear them in all public spaces here in Texas. So, since we've got to wear them… we should personalize them, right?!
My youngest daughter requested a few animal inspired personalizations on her face masks.
There are a bunch of different mask styles out there. I'm taking two of the most popular styles and sharing how to screen print on them. I've got 2 different mask styles and I'm sharing 3 different methods for screen printing on them.
Supplies Needed for Screen Printing with Vinyl
- Screen Printing Frame or Screen Printing Hinge Frame
- 1-Color Screen Printing Press (optional)
- Fabric Screen Printing Ink (I used black and opaque pearl)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- Easy Press2 or Heat Press
What Type of Ink is Safe to Use on Face Masks?
Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink is non-toxic and safe to use on a face mask (or any clothing). I love that it is water-based, making it easy to clean up.
Screen Printing with Vinyl
I use my Cricut (Silhouette works too!) to cut the design on adhesive vinyl. Then, I stick the vinyl to my screen and use it to screen print on the masks.
Style 1: Basic Cotton Mask with Ear Loops
You can find these basic cotton face masks in a lot of retail stores right now. This style is perfect for screen printing a design across the entire surface of the mask.
Unlike pleated masks, these cotton masks have a great area for personalizing.
My daughter wanted a dog face on hers so I printed the nose and mouth centered on the middle of the mask.
The trick to getting a good printable area is to stretch the mask over a piece of wood or cardboard and tape it along the back. This keeps the mask from wrinkling or bunching – which would create an uneven print.
Making Multiple Mask?
If you are making multiple masks with the same design, the hinge frame will help you better align the design on each mask.
Line up the first mask before adding ink to your screen. Once you have it in the desired spot, mark this spot on the base of your hinge frame. You can use a piece of tape or a pencil to mark the edges or corners where the mask sits on the board.
After mask 1 is complete, use your marks to easily line up the next masks in the perfect location.
Style 2: Handmade Face Mask with Seam Down Middle
Many of the handmade masks have a seam down the middle. This means you can't stretch the mask smooth like we did for style 1.
You can still screen print on both sides of this style mask. These masks will often have thick seams along the edges or elastic straps that might prevent your screen from laying flat.
It's important that your screen lay flat on the area where you want to print. I found that putting a scrap piece of wood inside the mask give it just enough lift to avoid issues with the seams and elastic ear loops.
After lifting your screen, use a heat gun or hair dryer to quickly dry the ink. Then, you can flip the mask over and print on the other side.
With this style mask, you can print on both sides, but you wouldn't be able to easily print across the full width of the mask because of that seam.
Screen Printing Masks before Sewing
If you are making your own masks, you can screen print on the material before assembling the mask! This would allow you to make a unique print or larger design that is closer to the seams.
Screen Printing White Ink on Face Masks Using 1-Color Press
If you've been following along with my other screen printing tutorials, you have probably heard me talk about how tricky white ink can be on dark fabrics. In a t-shirt tutorial, I shared a few different methods for screen printing white ink on a dark shirt. I like using Speedball opaque pearl fabric ink and my 1-color screen printing press for the best results.
We can use this same process for masks. The only catch is the mask isn't going to stay still on your pallet like a t-shirt does.
The trick I use to make it stick to the pallet is using tape to hold it down. This will keep the mask in place so you can lift the screen, heat the ink, and lower to add another coat of ink.
Remove the elastic ear straps (if possible) and tape your mask to your pallet. Lower your screen and squeegee 1-2 coats of ink. Then, lift the frame and use a heat gun to quickly dry the ink.
Lower your screen back down and add another coat of white ink. Repeat this process until you have a nice bright white.
You'll notice that I used my white scrapper tool to squeegee the ink on this one. Because I didn't have anything under my mask lifting it away from the seams, I needed a smaller squeegee to make good contact with the mask. I used my scrapper tool as a make shift squeegee and it worked great.
After you have finished printing one side, you can dry the ink and flip your mask over to print on the other side as well. I used 2 vinyl cuts for this mask because I wanted the elephant facing towards the middle of the mask. If you are printing a logo or saying, you can use just one piece of vinyl and print the same design on both sides.
Wear Your Mask
Now you have so many possibilities to brand and personalize your face mask! What are you going to print on your masks?