Let’s Make Things: Custom Screen Print T-shirt

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Did you catch Chris’s awesome pirate shirt on our Stena Line Pirate Cruise? I made it (and a matching vest for Nate) using a super easy at-home screen print method. You can do it too. All you need is an embroidery hoop, nylons, PVA glue or ModPodge, paint brush, fabric paint, cardboard, fabric paint, a design and a t-shirt.

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I used Lefranc & Bourgeois Deco Textil, stocked at the Art & Hobby stores (about €4 per bottle). It’s machine washable and comes in a ton of great colours. I used about a fourth of the bottle for this design.

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Okay, so here’s what you do. Pull the nylons over the embroidery hoop. I found those awesome knee-high nylons you can get at any quality drug store the best. Just slip them over the inner hop, tighten everything up and cut off the excess from one side. Draw or print your design as you want it (you don’t need to invert the image), place the nylon against the paper and trace the design with a Sharpie. Flip the hoop over (so the nylon is raised above your work surface) and paint on the glue according to your design. Paint the glue where you don’t want the fabric paint to transfer.

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Once the glue is dried completely, place it with the nylon screen against your shirt. Make sure you have cardboard between layers of the shirt so the paint doesn’t seep through. Make sure you’re happy with the placement and hold firmly in place. Completely cover with paint, taking care to not move the screen.

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I found a lot of tutorials for this online, but found this one from Vivid Please the best. Their tip is to use a spare piece of cardboard with a generous glob of paint to spread the paint with a wide stroke on the screen. Once done, carefully lift up the screen and leave your shirt to dry.

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Follow the drying and setting instructions on your fabric paint. The Deco Textil paint will be touch dry in about 20 minutes. You should then leave it to dry for another 24 hours.

screenprint7After that, set the paint with an iron on medium setting over the painted area. Leave it for five minutes with out moving it around. I used a tea towel to protect the shirt from getting burned. It shouldn’t as long as your iron isn’t too hot. After that your shirt is done and can be machine washed on cold.

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