You won’t need tons of experience to know how to make wearable art at home via screen printing. We’ll show you the process of making even your most imaginative designs come to life on any chosen product. You’ll produce incredible results, of true professional quality, without all of the hassles.

You can have the fun of making your own wearable art by learning how to screen print t-shirts. Ready to see how it’s done? Just use this handy guide!

1. Choose Your Design

The typical screen printing process requires you to send in your design or commission to the artists. For a DIY screen printing process, you’re in charge. You get to choose a design that resonates with you instead of a formal art department. 

That way you can ensure that you’re happy with the art before moving onto the printing stage. You’ll be in charge of giving the design the go-ahead as well as its finest details. Be sure that the print is the actual size and have it on clear acetate film (kodatrace) before moving onto the next step. 

2. Silk Screening

Screen printing shirts come out best once you have the right silk screens in place. Use silk screens that are coated with a unique emulsion for the best results. It’ll prevent any ink from soaking through the screen while it’s printing. 

You’ll also want to have separate screens for every color that is in your design. If it’s an all-black design, you can get away with using one screen. That way, the ink will not end up anywhere that you don’t already want it to be. 

3. Clear Acetate

Before screen printing at home, make sure that you purchase clear acetate film (kodatrace) and an abundance of plotter paper.

Using kodatrace on the final design will ensure precision and a quality finish. Place kodatrace onto a big exposure unit, such as a large lightbox. The screen coating should be placed on top of your design and exposed to light for a certain amount of time. 

4. Water Rinsing

Next, you will rinse the screen with water. You’ll carefully wash away the emulsion and leave a clear mesh revealing the design’s imprint. Dry the screen and touch it up with the emulsion, if necessary. 

You can also re-expose the screen to strengthen the additional emulsion. 

5. Printing Carousels

There is more than one way to learn how to screen print. You could screen print by hand if you’re working on one or two pieces. But if you’re working with larger volumes, there is more advanced technology you should invest in. 

A printing carousel not only saves you time, but it also produces more prints that doing it all by hand. It’s a unique kind of machine that allows you to print 8 different colors or detailed color designs. The screen is placed in the carousel while the water-based ink is located on one side of the screen. 

6. Printing Boards

Once you start working with the printing carousel, you have to follow a particular process. Whether you’re printing on a bag, an apron, or a t-shirt, you need the design laying flat onto a printing board. All eight arms on the printing carousel will rotate with the printing boards, resulting in a smooth finish. 

7. Imprinting the Design 

When the first printing board with your finished product hits the screen, you’re more than halfway there! You’d then lower the screen so that the large squeegee can pull the ink along the screen. That ink then gets pushed through each clear area of the screen. 

This is when you get to see your design imprinted on your t-shirt or product!

8. Drying the Print

Once your design is imprinted on your product, it’s time for it to set. You should run the printed item through a large dryer at a designated temperature. This will bake the print onto the item firmly and permanently. 

This will result in you having a colorfast product. Your design will be saturated onto the t-shirt or product in its most final form. And you can consider the job 80 percent finished once it’s nice and dry!

9. Check for Print Quality

Perhaps you’re selling your printed product or simply keeping it within the comfort of your home, you still want to ensure the quality is up to par. There are several ways for you to quality-check your screen print t-shirts. One common way is by touching the ink once it’s on the dried on the product. 

The design shouldn’t feel too thin or too thick on your t-shirt or product. The print should also feel light on your t-shirt versus weighing the product down. Unless, for example, your design was specifically created to be bold and heavy on your t-shirt. 

Either way, you can check the quality of your DIY screen printing entirely on your own. 

10. Washing Your Screen Print

Another efficient way to check the quality of your screen print in by giving it a thorough wash. Next, you should strip it and recoat the design with emulsion. That will prepare it to be re-made with an entirely new design. 

Now You Know How to Screen Print

There you have it! These are the 10 simple steps to knowing how to screen print. It is an art for some and a mystery for others, but now it’s a simple process for you to do right at home. 

Take these steps into account the next time you consider sending your designs out to someone else. With the right supplies and this 10-step guide, you’ll have everything you need to get the job done. Happy printing!