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What's a family vacation without the obligatory photo in matching shirts??
If you have a vacation or reunion coming up, I want to help YOU create personalized shirts for your entire family!
Usually, I screen print with vinyl cut on my Cricut, but today I want to show you another option. I used the custom stencil kit from IKONART to make our family vacation t-shirts. I love how they turned out!
New to Screen Printing?
If you are interested in learning how to screen print at home but don't own a Cricut or Silhouette, you can still get started with one simple kit. The IKONART Custom Stencil Kit includes everything you need to screen print with minimal setup needed. Instead of cutting your design in vinyl or using emulsion to burn your screen, you just need an inkjet or laser printer.
I have shared a few tutorials using my IKONART custom stencil kit. I have screen printed on a chalkboard and personalized pumpkins. For this tutorial, I tried something a little different. I used the design I created with my IKONART kit and attached it to my screen printing frame. This allowed me to use my screen printing press which is so much more accurate to line up the design when you're doing multiple shirts.
Supplies Needed to DIY Family Vacation Shirts
The IKONART kit includes the exposure unit, light sensitive stencil film, printer film for both inkjet and laser printers, clipboard to help hold the film and squeegee. Need help setting up your kit? The beginning of this video shows my unboxing and setup process.
You will need:
- IKONART Stencil Kit
- Speedball Fabric Ink
- Screen Printing Frame
- 9 inch Squeegee
- Blank T-Shirts
- Inkjet or Laser Printer – I have this Canon Pixma InkJet printer that worked great.
- Cricut Easy Press, Heat Press or Iron to heat set the fabric ink after it dries
- Screen Printing Press (optional)
Step 1: Print Your Design in Black and White
If you are a Cricut or Silhouette user, you are familiar with using SVG formatted designs. With the IKONART kit, you aren't limited to SVG designs. You can use any file format – it just needs to be printed in black ink only.
On your computer, make sure the design is black and the background is white. I used Photoshop to setup my design this way but you can use any program that works for you. Print the design on the included printer film, printing on the milky side of the sheet. I used my Canon Pixma InkJet printer set to “High” quality on the print settings.
I followed the recommendation to print my design mirrored. This is a setting I adjusted in Photoshop before hitting print.
Step 2: Expose Artwork on the purple IKONART Light Sensitive Textile Film
For this step, I used the IKONART textile film (the purple one). This film adheres well to your screen printing frame.
You’ll want to work in a dark space with the lights out! Put the included matte black cardboard on your unit first. Then, place a sheet of the light sensitive film down. Align your artwork on top of the film. Cover everything with the clear sheet (included). Plugin your exposure unit and allow the light to hit the film for 35 seconds. That’s it!
Step 3: Washout Film with Spray Nozzle
Using a household sink with a spray nozzle, wash out the design. The kit includes a clipboard that you can attach the film to, making it easier to hold on to in the sink.
Step 4: Allow film to Air Dry
After you have washed out the film, use a paper towel to blot dry both sides of the film. The film needs to air dry before use, so I hung mine for about 45 minutes. If you are anxious to get started with your project, you can speed up the drying with a hair dryer or fan.
Step 5: Apply Adhesive Film to Your Screen Printing Frame
Peel off the clear backing and apply the sticky side of the film to the top of your screen printing frame. You can also apply it directly to the shirt.
I have found that putting it on top of my screen printing frame allows me to make multiple prints of the design much easier. With the screen printing frame, you can lift the screen and easily place it on the next shirt. You can also use a screen printing press, like I did, in this video:
Step 6: Squeegee Fabric Ink Over the Screen
For the adult size shirts, I used my screen printing press. This made the process very easy. I used the pallet to line up each shirt under the screen. I used a squeegee to spread the Screen Printing Ink over my design. With the press, you can lift the screen to check the ink coverage. If you need to add more ink, just lower the screen and squeegee again.
If you don't have a screen printing press, you can screen print on a sturdy table. Simply place your screen on top of the shirt, and squeegee over the stencil.
Step 7: Allow Your Ink to Dry
When using Speedball fabric ink, the ink needs to air dry for 2-3 days. You can speed this process up by using a heat gun or placing your shirts in a well ventilated area.
Step 8: Heat Set Your Fabric Ink
After your Speedball fabric ink is completely dry, you need to heat set the ink in order to make it permanent on the shirt. This will allow you to wash the shirt without fading!
Learn more about how to heat set Speedball fabric ink here.
What size design should I use for a family with various shirt sizes?
For adult size shirts (small to 3XL), I use the same size design. I used the max with of the 8.5×11 transparency to print my design.
If you are also printing toddler or youth sizes, it's best to create one more stencil for these smaller sizes. I used a 6″ wide design for the toddler size shirts. If you are doing baby onesies, you would need an even smaller size stencil for these.
Here's a free design sizing guide to help you determine the best sizes for your family shirts.
Why should I get the IKONART Kit vs. Screen Printing with Vinyl?
I use both methods! Typically, I will use my screen printing with vinyl technique on most projects. But, if there is a design that is too complex to cut on my Cricut Maker, the IKONART kit is my go-to method. For our family vacation shirts, I wanted to print a distressed design. This would have been tricky to create in vinyl with all of the small detail pieces. The detail you can get with the IKONART film is much finer than you can get with vinyl.
If you don't own a vinyl cutter like a Cricut or Silhouette, but want to do some occasional screen printing, the IKONART kit would be a great way to DIY family vacation shirts.
IKONART Discount Code
I'm excited to be partnering with IKONART to offer a deal just for you! Use the coupon code PIGSKINSANDPIGTAILS for 15% off your entire order.
Family Photo Credit: Prickly Peak Photography
Such cute shirts! I work here in Port Aransas and live close by! I hope you had a great vacation and thank you for the great tips on using ikonart!