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How to make your own print on a T-shirt?

How to make your own print on a T-shirt?

It’s nice to get your own custom T-shirt printed. There are many local companies that can print clothes for us. You can also make such prints yourself at home, garage, or basement. Below Dallas t shirt printing have described how to do it and how much it costs.

A technique that works well in printing on fabrics and does not require large financial outlays from you is screen printing. What’s this? It is a sieve (frame with a tight mesh), in which some of the meshes are temporarily glued and the other part is free – we put thick paint on the sieve and press it using a squeegee (a handle with a rubber). Unlocked meshes create a pattern through which the paint passes and is reflected on the printed fabric. We dry the print and we have a T-shirt with our own pattern! Easy? NO? We’ll simplify it in a moment :)!

Step 1. Frame for screen printing

The cheapest option will be to make such a frame from wooden profiles, use a canvas or, in the case of a mini format, a photo frame. A more expensive option involves buying or ordering a welded frame made of aluminum (steel would be too heavy). You can also buy a ready-made frame with a stretched mesh. We recommend our wooden frames for screen printing.

Step 2. Select the screen printing mesh

Screen printing meshes come in different densities. They are marked depending on the number of fibers per centimeter and the diameter of the fiber itself. We most often use the first parameter. 39T mesh has 39 fibers per centimeter and will allow much more paint to pass through than denser 120T mesh types. The choice of mesh depends on the absorbency of the printed substrate, the recommendations of the paint manufacturer and how detailed the print we want to have. To start with, we recommend 43T or 48T mesh for cotton T-shirts when printing with water-based inks. Here are our proven screen printing meshes.

Step 3. Tensing the net to the frame

The net can be attached to the wooden frame using a tacker and upholstery staples; the net must be properly tensioned. The net can also be glued to the frame – this is most conveniently done on special net tensioning tables.

Step 4. Seal the mesh holes into the pattern – screen printing matrix.

We wash our screen, i.e. degrease it and dry it, and then we start creating our screen printing matrix. We can use:

  • Photosensitive emulsion – a special thick substance that is applied to the mesh in the darkroom using an “emulsion application trough”. We seal the meshes in this way and leave them to dry. In the meantime, we print our pattern to be exposed in the deepest possible black on transparent foil. the so-called “film” or “positive”. When exposing from above, we press the film with a piece of glass onto the surface of the mesh covered with dry emulsion, and under the frame we place a piece of sponge wrapped in black fabric – this way, during exposure, the light will not be reflected under the mesh. for exposure, we use, for example, a halogen lamp with a power of at least 400 W with an ordinary filament. Such a lamp emits the UV-A spectrum needed to harden the emulsion. The light source is mounted above the frame at a height equal to 1.5 times the length of the diagonal of the frame. The idea is to ensure that the beam of light is dispersed on the entire exposed surface relatively evenly. The exposure time depends on many factors, but to simplify, let’s assume that with this setting and our emulsions it should be approximately 10 minutes. After exposure, we wash the screen and rinse off the unhardened emulsion. In this way, a printing pattern. To start with, we recommend  a one-component emulsion .
  • Retoucher / filler – it is used to fill gaps in the hardened emulsion, if any, but it can also be used to “manually” seal the meshes of the mesh with our pattern by simply applying it to the mesh with a brush. You can also place a cardboard template on the mesh, paint it on the mesh and leave it to dry. With this method we do not need to expose anything. You can find water-based paint retoucher here .
  • PVC foil – Cut out the pattern with a knife or plotter, select unnecessary pieces of foil and use transport paper to glue our PVC foil to the mesh on the printing side, i.e. the one in contact with the printed surface. You can get such foil here .

Step 5. Squeegee and paint

A squeegee is a handle with a rubber squeegee. We select the length of the squeegee depending on the width of our exposed pattern. The squeegee should be wider than the pattern, so that with one stroke we can cover the entire pattern (flood) with the paint previously applied to the matrix and then press the paint through the sieve using it. We recommend our Inktorpeda water paints.

Step 6. Printing

Pure joy.

Step 7. Washing the ink from the screen

After printing, excess ink can be collected in a container and the screen and squeegee are washed with water. We’ll need a brush for this. Leave the clean frame to dry. We can repeat the printing series with the same pattern in the future, or clean the screen (separate the emulsion) to use it to print new designs. You can also use a special sponge for cleaning.

Step 8. Separating the emulsion from the sieve

For this purpose, we will use a delayer – a preparation that we spray on both sides of the mesh. Using gloves and a sponge/brush, spread the agent evenly over the entire surface of the mesh and leave for a few minutes. The next step is to wash off the emulsion with water using a pressure washer. The delayer is also available in our store.

Step 9 – Back to step 4 🙂

How much is it?

  • mesh approx. PLN 50 (1×1.27 m) enough for 4 A3 screens
  • wooden frame – material cost approx. PLN 15
  • economical squeegee 20 cm – PLN 50
  • photosensitive emulsion – PLN 95/kg
  • delayer preparation – PLN 19
  • water paint – PLN 34 / 0.5 kg


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