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Did you know you can personalize mesh bags easily with screen printing? This wouldn't be possible with vinyl, so another reason I love screen printing with my Cricut!
I personalized these mesh bags for a recent trip to the beach. They were perfect for hauling towels and toys.
I cut this Sea You at the Beach design on my Cricut and attached it to my Speedball screen printing frame.
Supplies Needed for Screen Printing on Mesh
- Screen Printing Frame
- Acrylic Screen Printing Ink
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- Cricut TrueControl Knife
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- 1-Color Screen Printing Press (optional)
- Heat Gun (optional)
- Mesh bag (I found these at Walmart)
Screen Printing with Vinyl
I started screen printing with vinyl after years of using iron-on vinyl (HTV). I made the switch because I wasn't happy with the way iron-on vinyl felt on my shirts. Plus, it didn't hold up well. After several washes, it would start to crack and peel off.
I love that screen printing is a more permanent way to personalize bags and make shirts. This is one of those projects that I wouldn't have been able to do with vinyl, but it is possible with screen printing.
If you are new to screen printing with your Cricut or Silhouette, check out my Beginner's Guide to Screen Printing with Craft Vinyl.
Which Ink Should I Use on Mesh?
I used Speedball acrylic ink for this project. This type of bag would melt if we tried to heat setting, so fabric ink wouldn't be a good choice. With acrylic ink, it dries permanent, so the bag can get wet.
I wouldn't throw this bag in the wash though as acrylic ink doesn't hold up well in a washing machine.
However, if you are screen printing on mesh shorts or other garments that can withstand the heat of an iron, I would use Speedball fabric ink. Don't forget to heat set your ink after it dries. Here are 6 Ways to Heat Set Your Fabric Ink.
How to Screen Print on Mesh Bags
Setup Your Vinyl Cut
I start the process just like all of my screen printing with vinyl projects. Cut the design on your Cricut or Silhouette vinyl cutting machine. Weed the parts of the design where you want ink to go through. This is the opposite of weeding for HTV.
Attach your vinyl to your Speedball screen printing frame using transfer tape. The type of transfer tape you use can make a big difference here on how easily the vinyl sticks to the screen. If you are having trouble getting the vinyl to stick to your frame, try my transfer tape.
Prepare the Mesh Surface
Because the mesh surface has holes, you want to put something under to catch the ink that is going to go through these holes. I used a paper towel inside the pocket of the bag. The paper towels absorbed the ink as it went through the holes – preventing it from getting on the inside/back of the bag.
Now, you're ready to screen print!
Line up your screen over the bag and squeegee ink over the screen.
The 1-color screen printing press came in very handy for this project. I was able to check my ink coverage and put the screen back down to add more. With this mesh surface, I needed to add several coats of ink.
You can do this same process without the press, you'll just have one shot to get the design covered in ink. Once you lift the screen, it's impossible to get it back in the right spot to add more ink.
That's it! You've screen printed on mesh! You may notice some spots where the ink filled the small mesh holes. I used a tooth pick to push the ink out of those holes.
The acrylic ink just needs a few hours to dry and you are ready to hit the beach.