How To Make Screen Print T-shirts: DIY Instructions For Custom Apparel

How To Make Screen Print T-shirts: DIY Instructions For Custom Apparel

Looking to create your own custom apparel? Screen printing t-shirts is a fantastic way to express your creativity and make personalized garments. Did you know that screen printing dates back to ancient China? It's a technique that has evolved over centuries, and now you can bring it into your own home with a few simple tools and materials. Whether you want to make shirts for your sports team, promote your business, or showcase your unique designs, screen printing allows you to bring your ideas to life on fabric.

To make screen print t-shirts, you'll need a few key supplies. First, you'll need a screen printing frame, which is typically made of wood or aluminum and fitted with a fine mesh. Then, you'll need a stencil or design to transfer onto the shirt, which can be created using a variety of methods. Once you have your design, you'll use a screen printing ink or paint specifically made for fabric. The ink is applied to the screen using a squeegee, which pushes the ink through the mesh and onto the shirt. With a few practice runs and a bit of patience, you'll have a collection of unique, custom t-shirts that you can proudly wear or share with others. Screen printing is a versatile and customizable method that allows you to create professional-looking apparel in the comfort of your own home.

How To Make Screen Print T-shirts: DIY Instructions For Custom Apparel

Exploring the Art of Screen Printing: DIY Instructions for Custom Apparel

Screen printing is a versatile and popular method of customizing t-shirts and other apparel. Whether you want to create personalized tees for a sports team, company event, or just express your creativity, screen printing allows you to bring your design ideas to life. This article will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to make screen print t-shirts at home. So, grab your supplies and let's dive into the world of DIY screen printing!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you start screen printing, it's important to gather all the necessary supplies. Here's what you'll need:

  • Blank t-shirts
  • Screen printing frame
  • Screen printing ink
  • Squeegee
  • Emulsion and sensitizer
  • Exposure unit or sunlight
  • Stencil or design
  • Tape
  • Cardboard or flat surface
  • Gloves
  • Old newspaper or protective covering

Once you have all the supplies ready, you're one step closer to creating your own custom screen print t-shirts.

Choosing the Right T-shirts

The first step in creating screen print t-shirts is selecting the right blank t-shirts. Consider the color, fabric, and style of the t-shirts according to your preferences and needs. If you're planning to print dark-colored designs, choose light-colored t-shirts for better visibility. Also, make sure the fabric is smooth and suitable for screen printing. 100% cotton shirts tend to work well, but you can experiment with different blends as well. Finally, decide whether you want crew neck, V-neck, or any other style that complements your design.

Once you have chosen the t-shirts, wash and dry them to remove any residues or chemicals that may affect the screen printing process. This ensures better ink adhesion and a longer-lasting print.

Pro Tip: It's a good idea to buy a few extra t-shirts for practice and to test your designs before printing on the final ones.

Preparing the Screen Printing Frame

The screen printing frame holds the stencil and allows ink to pass through onto the t-shirt. To prepare the frame:

  • Cut a piece of mesh that fits the frame, leaving a few inches of overlap on each side.
  • Secure the mesh to the frame using tape or clamps, ensuring it remains tight and wrinkle-free.
  • Apply a layer of emulsion on one side of the mesh using a scoop coater or squeegee. Ensure an even and consistent coating.
  • Leave the emulsion-coated frame to dry in a dark, dry area or under a yellow light. This process is known as "curing".
  • Once dry, apply a second coat of emulsion using cross strokes to create a more durable stencil.

Now you have a properly prepared screen printing frame that is ready to transfer your design to the t-shirts.

Creating and Transferring the Design

One of the key steps in screen printing is creating and transferring the design onto the screen. Here's how:

  • Create or choose the design you want to print on the t-shirts. It could be a logo, artwork, or text.
  • Print the design onto a transparent film or trace it onto a light-blocking material like vellum paper or photo emulsion sheets.
  • Place the film or light-blocking material on top of the dried emulsion-coated screen, ensuring it is properly aligned.
  • Secure the film or material onto the screen using tape or clamps.
  • Expose the screen to UV light using an exposure unit or natural sunlight for a specific amount of time, depending on the emulsion and design complexity. This will cure the emulsion and create a stencil of your design.
  • Remove the film or light-blocking material from the screen.

Now, your screen is ready with the transferred design, and you're one step closer to printing your custom t-shirts.

Printing the T-shirts

It's time to bring your design to life by printing it onto the t-shirts. Follow these steps:

  • Lay a clean, flat surface or cardboard inside each t-shirt to prevent ink bleed-through.
  • Place the screen with the stencil on top of the t-shirt, positioning it where you want the design to be printed.
  • Pour a generous amount of screen printing ink onto the stencil, near the top edge.
  • Hold the top edge of the screen with one hand and use the squeegee to drag the ink from top to bottom, applying firm and even pressure.
  • Carefully lift the screen to reveal your printed design on the t-shirt.
  • Repeat the process for each t-shirt, making sure to replenish the ink as needed.
  • Allow the printed t-shirts to dry completely before wearing or washing them.

Curing the Printed Design

After the ink has dried, it's important to cure the print to ensure its longevity and washability. Here's how to do it:

  • Set your iron to the highest cotton setting without steam.
  • Place a clean cloth or parchment paper over the printed design.
  • Iron over the design for a few minutes, applying firm pressure.
  • This heat-set process helps the ink bond with the fabric, making it more durable and resistant to washing.

Once you've completed these steps, you'll have your very own custom screen print t-shirts ready to showcase your unique style or promote your brand.

Adding a Personalized Touch: Screen Printing Techniques and Beyond

Now that you have mastered the basics of screen printing, let's explore some additional techniques to take your custom t-shirts to the next level.

Using Multiple Colors

Screen printing allows you to use multiple colors in your designs. Here's how you can achieve multi-color prints:

  • Create separate stencils for each color in your design.
  • Position each stencil on the screen using registration marks or alignment tools to ensure accuracy.
  • Apply ink to one color at a time, using a separate squeegee for each color.
  • Repeat the printing process for each color, maintaining registration to create a vibrant multi-color design.

This technique allows you to create intricate and eye-catching designs on your custom t-shirts.

Experimenting with Specialty Inks

While traditional screen printing inks work well, you can also experiment with specialty inks to add different effects and textures to your designs. Some popular options include:

  • Glitter ink for a sparkling touch
  • Puff ink for a raised and textured appearance
  • Reflective ink for increased visibility in low-light conditions
  • Glow-in-the-dark ink for unique nighttime effects

These specialty inks can add a unique flair to your custom t-shirts and make them stand out from the crowd.

Exploring Alternative Printing Surfaces

While t-shirts are the most common canvas for screen printing, you can also experiment with other surfaces to create custom apparel. Some options include:

  • Sweatshirts
  • Tote bags
  • Hats
  • Hoodies
  • Cotton pants

Each surface brings its unique challenges and requirements, but the screen printing process remains similar. So, don't limit your creativity to just t-shirts!

Scaling Up: From DIY to Professional

If you find that screen printing has become a passion and you want to scale up your production or offer custom printing services, you can invest in professional-grade equipment and supplies. This may include:

  • Higher-quality screens and frames
  • Screen printing press or machine
  • Conveyor dryer for faster and more efficient curing
  • Professional-grade inks and additives
  • Exposure unit with controlled UV exposure

Scaling up can help you produce larger quantities of custom printed apparel with consistency and efficiency.

In Conclusion

Screen printing is a rewarding and creative way to customize t-shirts and other apparel. With a little practice and the right supplies, you can bring your design ideas to life. Remember to experiment with different techniques, inks, and surfaces to make your custom apparel truly unique. Whether you're printing t-shirts for personal use or offering screen printing services professionally, enjoy the process and have fun expressing your creativity with screen printing!

How To Make Screen Print T-shirts: DIY Instructions For Custom Apparel

How to Make Screen Print T-shirts: DIY Instructions for Custom Apparel

If you want to create custom apparel, screen printing is a great option. It allows you to print your own designs on T-shirts and other garments with professional results. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make screen print T-shirts:

Materials Needed:

  • Screen printing frame
  • Screen printing ink
  • Squeegee
  • Stencil or design on transparency paper
  • Screen printing emulsion
  • Exposure unit or sunlight


  • Prepare the screen printing frame by stretching a screen tightly and securing it with clamps.
  • Coat the screen with emulsion and let it dry.
  • Place the stencil or design on top of the screen and secure it with tape.
  • Expose the screen to light using an exposure unit or sunlight.
  • Wash out the emulsion from the screen, leaving behind the design.
  • Place the T-shirt on a flat surface and

    Key Takeaways

    • Screen printing is a versatile method for creating custom t-shirts.
    • Gather the necessary supplies, including a screen, ink, and a squeegee.
    • Create or select a design to be printed on the t-shirt.
    • Prepare the screen by applying emulsion and exposing it to light.
    • Apply the ink to the screen and use the squeegee to transfer it onto the t-shirt.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are some commonly asked questions about how to make screen print t-shirts and DIY instructions for custom apparel:

    1. What materials do I need to make screen print t-shirts at home?

    To make screen print t-shirts at home, you will need the following materials:

    • A screen print frame
    • Screen printing ink in various colors
    • Screen printing squeegee
    • T-shirt or garment to print on
    • Screen printing emulsion and sensitizer
    • Lamp or light box for exposing the designs onto the screen
    • Waterproof tape
    • Cardboard or scrap paper
    • A workspace with good lighting and ventilation

    These materials can be easily purchased at art supply stores or online.

    2. How do I prepare the screen for screen printing?

    To prepare the screen for screen printing, follow these steps:

    • Clean the screen with water and ensure it is free from any dust or debris.
    • Mix the screen printing emulsion and sensitizer according to the instructions on the packaging.
    • Apply a thin and even layer of the emulsion mixture onto the screen, using a squeegee or a scoop coater.
    • Leave the screen to dry in a dark room or under a safe light.
    • Once the emulsion is dry, place your design or stencil onto the screen and secure it with waterproof tape.
    • Expose the screen to light using a lamp or light box, ensuring that the design is properly exposed onto the screen.

    After following these steps, your screen will be ready for screen printing.

    3. How do I print the design onto the t-shirt?

    To print the design onto the t-shirt, follow these steps:

    • Place the t-shirt or garment onto a flat surface and secure it with cardboard or scrap paper to prevent ink bleed-through.
    • Position the prepared screen onto the t-shirt, ensuring that the design is aligned correctly.
    • Pour a small amount of screen printing ink onto the top edge of the design on the screen.
    • Hold the screen firmly with one hand and use the squeegee to evenly pull the ink across the design, applying steady pressure.
    • Lift the screen carefully to reveal the printed design on the t-shirt.
    • Allow the ink to dry completely before wearing or washing the t-shirt.

    By following these steps, you can successfully print the design onto the t-shirt.

    4. How do I clean the screen after screen printing?

    To clean the screen after screen printing, here's what you need to do:

    • Immediately after printing, scrape off any excess ink from the screen using a scraper or old credit card.
    • Rinse the screen with warm water to remove the remaining ink.
    • Gently scrub the screen with a soft brush or sponge and a mild detergent or screen cleaning solution.
    • Rinse the screen thoroughly to remove any detergent residue.
    • Allow the screen to air dry completely before storing it for future use.

    Regularly cleaning your screen after each use will help prolong its lifespan and ensure optimal performance for future printing projects.

    5. Can I use screen printing on other types of apparel besides t-shirts?

    Yes, screen printing can be used on various types of apparel besides t-shirts. Some examples include:

    • Hoodies and sweatshirts
    • Tank tops
    • Polo shirts
    • Tote bags
    • Hats and caps
    • Aprons
    • Jackets

    Screen printing allows you to customize a wide range of apparel and accessories to suit your personal style or brand.

    So there you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to make screen-print t-shirts at home. By following these DIY instructions, you can create your own custom apparel that is unique and personalized. Whether you want to make t-shirts for a special occasion, as a gift, or for your own clothing line, screen printing is a fun and creative way to express yourself.

    Remember to gather all the necessary materials, prepare your design, and carefully follow each step to achieve the best results. From creating your stencil to printing your design, screen printing t-shirts is a rewarding process that allows you to showcase your creativity. So go ahead and give it a try, and enjoy the satisfaction of wearing a t-shirt that you made yourself!