Neon Lights Effect when Screen Printing with Vinyl

Jul 13, 2020 | Cricut Projects, Ink, Project Ideas, Screen Printing, Vinyl Projects

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Have you tried screen printing and had problems with the ink bleeding?  Well, today we are going to embrace it and CREATE some bleeding. Crazy, right?!

I decided to try a neon lighting effect by encouraging the ink to bleed around my screen printed design.  It's fun to get a little creative and see what type of glow you can get.

screen printing vinyl project idea summer shirt

Learn how to Screen Print with Your Cricut or Silhouette vinyl cutter

If you have a Cricut or Silhouette and you have been making shirts with iron-on vinyl, it's time to learn how to screen print.  There are so many reasons why I love screen printing over heat transfer vinyl (HTV).

The quality of a screen printed shirt is so much better.   Not only will it hold up wash after wash (no peeling vinyl), but it will feel so much better to wear.

Screen printing ink soaks into the shirt leaving a nice soft feel.  The best part… you can make these high quality shirts using vinyl cut on your Cricut or Silhouette machine!

If you have never tried screen printing before, my Beginner's Guide to Screen Printing ebook will help you get started with everything you need to know.

how to screen print vinyl speedball transfer tape

Supplies Needed for Screen Printing with Vinyl

summer vibes project diy screen printing speedball

This project starts out just like all of my screen printing with vinyl shirts.  Cut any design on your Cricut or Silhouette machine.

Weed and transfer your vinyl design to your Speedball screen printing frame.  If you are having trouble getting the vinyl to stick to your screen, be sure to try out my favorite transfer tape for screen printing.

Be sure to put parchment paper inside your shirt.  This will prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back of your shirt!

Squeegee the ink over your design a few times.  Lift the screen to reveal your printed design.

How to Get a Neon Lights Effect with Screen Printing Ink

Here comes the fun part!  While the ink is still wet, spray the design with water.

The areas of the shirt that you get wet will cause the Speedball fabric ink to bleed.  This creates a fun, neon-like glow.

Once you have achieved a look that you like, you can allow the shirt to air dry or speed up the process with a heat gun and/or fan.  I used the heat gun to remove some of the moisture (the shirt got pretty wet in the area I sprayed!).  Then, I placed the shirt by a fan overnight so it could dry completely.

project idea neon lights summer vibes shirt florescent ink

What type of ink works best?

Speedball water based fabric inks work best for this type of effect.  I love using the fluorescent colors to get the neon lights effect.

With this type of fabric ink, you need to make sure to heat set the ink after it dries completely.  This will make your design permanent and your shirt washable.  Here are 6 ways you can heat set Speedball fabric ink.

Choosing the Best T-shirt for this Effect

I used a cotton/poly blend shirt, but 100% cotton will work great too!  This is the blank shirt website I use for all of my screen printing projects.

summer screen printing neon lights ink florescent

Which fonts look best?

For a neon lights look, choosing the right style font is key.  I used this Retro Neon font for “summer” and Marshmallow Script font for “vibes.”

If you are looking to make shirts to sell, choosing a font with a commercial license is important so you are able to use the fonts in your design. Learn more details on commercial use fonts.

Watch the Project Video

Want to see the process in action?  Here's a look at how the ink bleeds:

Want this Summer Summer Vibes Cut File?

Make this project now using my free cut file.


  1. thank you for showing me how to get a neon light affect! Never would’ve thought of that! Cant wait to get the ink and try!

    • You bet! I’m so glad you’re going to give it a try!

      • Can’t wait to try this!

  2. Love this affect!!, I just ordered my screen press so now I super excited to make more shirts like this

  3. I have a question have you ever tried it on a black shirt. I’m trying to do the “neon” words on a shirt for my mom.
    I wonder if it would work..


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I’m Jennifer, your go-to for all things vinyl screen printing. I offer both in-person and online classes to help you craft better quality shirts. This blog is full of screen printing inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about screen printing with vinyl!

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