Friday, October 7, 2011

Screen Printing at Home (without the screen!)

Screen Printing?  Fabric Painting?  Stencil Fabric Painting?!  Let's call it that!

A few months ago, 4 friends and I decided it would be a great idea to go to San Francisco and run the Nike Half Marathon.  Sadly, I will be walking..injuries are not fun..

But, since I am a big fan of halfs and my goal is to run one in every state, I was definitely in for California!

My first idea was to get us all matching shirts online, to run the race; but the more I looked into it, the more I decided that I was crafty enough to handle screen printing myself.

I bought us all some cheap Meijer shirts and took a shot at it.  These turned out to be our training shirts.
The front of the shirt is self explanatory  :)   We are all Badass Runners!
The back of the shirt "California Here We Come" is a reference to a song from my favorite show in high school The O.C.   It's a good song, really.

For our race shirts, the best idea we could come up with was something to do with Michigan, since that is where we all reside (or once resided).  So, the back would have a map of Michigan.  UP and Drummond Island included of course!  The front would say "High Five".  As in, Michigan is shaped like a hand and we need your support out here running this crazy hilly race so give us a high five!!

First I made the stencils.  It did not make sense for me to make screens since they are time consuming and more practical for mass producing shirts.  I went for a simpler font here since the training shirt font had a lot of loose pieces to it; insides of O's and e's, etc.

I printed out the map and High Five, taped the print out to a piece of cardboard and cut the shapes out with an exacto knife.  After first washing and drying the shirts, it was paint time.

For this, I purchased Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink Starter Set off of Amazon and used a foam brush I had lying around.

Place the stencil where you want it
Dip your brush in the fabric paint and dab er on
I experimented with light coats of paint and heavy coats.  Light coats are hard to see sometimes and heavy ones tend to bleed under the cardboard.  I tried to go heavier on this for better visibility, so I dabbed a few coats of paint before removing the stencil.
Wet Paint!
Let the paint dry for 24 hours or so. It will "soak in" and appear lighter after it dries.

Here's the backside.
Next comes the final and boring part of screen printing: Ironing

The fabric paint says to iron for 3-5 minutes.  I go with 5 to play it safe.  What am I playing it safe for, not sure, but I am a safe person    :)

This amounts to 20 minutes of ironing time per shirt since you need to iron both sides of each image.
See how the paint faded?!
Cover up the paint with a piece of scrap fabric to iron on top of.  I used fabric from a failed Christmas present to the bf.  Turned out I didn't account for how tall he was when making pajama pants..oh well..
Now iron for what seems like FOREVER.  I use this nifty timer that I found online to time my 5 minute intervals.

If you are on the fence about doing a project like this yourself, I say go for it!

It takes some effort, but I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the shirts turned out.

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