How to Screen Print a Vintage Look with Water-Based Ink

Nov 16, 2020 | Beginner Tutorials, Cricut Projects, Ink, Screen Printing

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This is a sponsored post with Bella+Canvas. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.    bella canvas street fleece hoodie screen printing

It’s Hoodie Weather!

If you have followed me very long, you have heard me rave about Bella + Canvas short sleeve shirts. I love these shirts because they are extremely soft and have a wonderful unisex fit that is true to size.

Well, guess what… Bella + Canvas makes a hoodie too. Just like the shirts, these hoodies are soft and fit great.

The best part.  They are just as easy to screen print on as the shirts are. They really work so nicely with the water-based Speedball ink I use.

screen printing with vinyl cricut silhouette diy how to

Recreating that Favorite Old School Hoodie

Don’t you just love that old hoodie from high school that has that perfect aged look and fits just right?

Have you ever wondered how to recreate that look on a new hoodie?

In this post, I will show you how to do exactly that.

screen printing vintage faded worn distressed style

I have written extensively about the difficulties of using white ink on dark fabrics.  In this project, I want to show you how to take the challenges of using white ink on dark fabrics and use them to your advantage.

White ink has a natural tendency to look faded on dark fabrics. It can also crack when washed and stretched. Instead of getting frustrated by these flaws, embrace them.

Take that white ink and make a great looking hoodie with the popular vintage or worn look.

diy hoodie screen printing cricut vinyl white ink

Screen Printing with Water-Based White Ink

I have always chosen to screen print with water-based ink for a few reasons.  I love how water-based ink soaks into the fabric leaving a nice soft finish. 

Water-based ink is also very practical for screen printing at home. If you are a crafter getting started screen printing with your vinyl cutter, using water-based ink is a wise decision. 

This type of ink can be cleaned up easily in your sink and requires no fancy equipment to cure the ink. 

Plastisol inks require a flash dryer or conveyor dryer to cure the ink. With water-based ink, you can cure the ink with your t-shirt press, EasyPress or household iron.

screen printing vintage worn washed look

While I love screen printing with water-based ink, printing on dark fabrics with a white or light color ink can be frustrating.  When you print a design on dark fabric, you may noticed that you can see the shirt color through the ink.  This typically gets more noticeable after you heat set the ink. 

While this can be frustrating when you're trying to get a solid white print, this is a very helpful quality when it comes to making a vintage look.

Watch the Process

How to Get a Vintage Look with White Ink

I screen printed several hoodies for this tutorial to share with you the different effects you can get with white ink. 

For this first hoodie, I used a good amount of pressure on the squeegee and covered the design 4 or 5 times before lifting the screen.  This gives you a thicker coat of ink and what appears to be a more solid white coverage. 

This thicker coat of ink is going to crack as you wash and wear it. 

screen printing bella canvas hoodie white ink how to

For the next hoodie, I used less pressure on the squeegee and only went over the design 2 times.  This allowed less ink through the screen. Lifting the screen revealed a design that already looked worn. 

If you are trying to achieve a more vintage style, using less ink is a great way to achieve this. 

speedball white ink cracking

Tips for getting a more vintage look

  • Use Speedball white fabric ink.  This is a different consistency compared to other colors and is most likely to crack for the vintage look.
  • Experiment with less pressure on the squeegee.  This will allow less ink to go through the screen.  A thinner coat of ink will look more vintage right away. 
  • Wash, dry and pull your sweatshirt.  As you wash and wear your shirt, you'll notice it continues to have more cracking.

screen printing speedball white ink cracking

Support the Makers: Movers, Shakers, Hustlers

Want to screen print with this design?  Receive this free SVG by entering your email address:


Let's all support the Maker's this holiday season and shop small.  Etsy is a great place to find handmade, homemade, and small business makers.



  1. Do you still heat set this design before washing?

    • Yes! That’s an important step to keep it from completely washing out!

      • Hi!!
        I used my heat press and my design still washed put. What am I doing wrong??

        • Set heat press temperature to
          300+ degrees and press for 10-12 secs.
          You may have to test different degrees and time to see what works best but the figures I gave you should put you in the right range. Happy printing

  2. Do you only pull it if you want it to crack? If you don’t want it to crack do you just not pull it?

  3. I want to get the free svg


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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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