DIY screen printing doesn’t have to be expensive! Do it with Mod Podge – you won’t believe how easy it is and how good it looks. Scroll down to see a video of the process in action . . . with two bonus techniques as well!
Skills Required: Beginner. If you’re doing a simple design, you don’t really need any prior crafting skills. Just work slowly if you haven’t crafted before.
I finally did it! I tried DIY screen printing with Mod Podge. I’ve talked about this before, always wanted to do it, and I finally did. Let’s not talk about the fact that I want to use wallpaper with Mod Podge too and haven’t done it yet – no, let’s not even go there.
Homemade Screen Printing
I’m so pleased with the results of my fashion craft that I bring you this DIY screen printing tutorial. I’ll start with something easy and then tell you about my shirt above.
Here’s my first try, the snowflake tote:
Before I dive into the tutorial to show you how it’s done, I wanted to go over a few commonly asked questions I’ve gotten about DIY screen printing with Mod Podge. It’s a really easy craft, but there are some things to know.
DIY Screen Print vs. DIY Silk Screen
Essentially the two techniques are the same. “Silk screen” is traditionally called that because silk is used in the process. The panel I used in this process is polyester, but you might be able to use silk.
I was just looking for something with fine holes that seemed reasonable for a DIY silk screen or screen print and the panel I found worked well.
NO Emulsion, NO Sensitizer
The awesome thing about this tutorial is that you don’t need any emulsion or any sensitizer. I love that you don’t need any chemicals! You still get the crisp lines as well. It’s pretty awesome.
You can do several t-shirts with this method – you can reuse the screen. You might have to touch up the Mod Podge in some places depending on how many times you used it/how thick you applied it.
But if you are making shirts for a summer vacation (for example), you’ll be able to produce your t-shirts using one screen just fine. If you’re planning on mass producing t-shirts, I’d go with a different method.
Are you ready to learn how to print on shirts and other goodies with my technique? Learn how below.
DIY Silk Screen
To do screen printing yourself, you need to gather a few supplies. Here’s what I pulled together.
- Embroidery hoop – doesn’t matter if it’s wood or plastic
- Sheer curtain panel – I got mine for $1 at the dollar store (I’ve also heard IKEA is good source)
- Screen printing ink – any kind or colors, Speedball is great
- Fabric Mod Podge
- Flat paint brush
- Sheet of paper, any kind
- Cotton bag
I like to jump in, so you should to. Take your sheer curtain panel and fasten it into the embroidery hoop. Screw it closed and pull the curtain tight, tight, tight.
Now turn your hoop over and cut the excess curtain material around the frame. Put the extra curtain aside and then pull your screen taut again.
Now get as crafty as you want to! You’re going to need an image, so either hand draw one or print something off of the computer. I wanted a simple snowflake, so I hand drew mine (I first marked off the hoop so I wouldn’t do it too big or small).
Notice it would have been easier for me to print something or use a ruler, but I like to make things as difficult as possible and do lots of erasing.
Go ahead and place your screen on the design you just drew (or printed). Trace directly onto the screen with a pencil. All the tutorials I’ve seen use a pencil, so that’s what I used. Not sure what happens if you use a pen, but I really didn’t want to mess this up so I didn’t try and find out.
Yay, my favorite part! Using the brush, paint Mod Podge on your screen where you DON’T want the ink to go through. This is called the “resist” because it resists the ink coming through the screen.
I thought about it long and hard, and I decided to use Fabric Mod Podge. Because if it’s washable, then it would be easy to wash the ink out (Mod Podge staying behind) and then use the screen again for multiple prints. I know, I know – I’m smart.
Let your Mod Podge screen dry for a few hours until it’s completely clear. I did a few layers of Mod Podge because I was nervous about the ink getting through in some areas if I didn’t do it well enough. Your host is also a neurotic screen printer.
This is the second fun part – place your screen down on the bag and paint! One important thing: place something between the layers of fabric, so that the ink doesn’t bleed through. You never know.
Be sure when you are painting through the screen to get the corners well. I did several layers of paint before I pulled up.
Pull the screen off and allow to dry. Check out my finished DIY screen printing project again! If you found you messed up in any areas, go back and touch up with the brush.
Follow the directions on the packaging of your screen print ink to finish your project (wash or heat seal, etc.).
Once I did the bag I was more confident, so I created this mini snowflake screen in the same way that I did the large snowflake one for the bag.
I grabbed a gray t-shirt and mixed together some black and white screen printing ink, then followed the steps I listed above. You’ll notice I did several shades on the t-shirt.
Gray tonal makes me happy, so printed one snowflake, then added more white. Then did it again. And again. And one more time. Finished t-shirt!
To completely finish her off, I added some buttons, because you know I love them. Great thing is that the screen is reusable, you have tons of curtain material from your sheer panel to make more and now your friends and family all want you to make them a shirt. Are you ready to try DIY screen printing now?
- Embroidery hoop
- Sheer curtain panel
- Surface - t-shirt or cotton bag
- Screen printing ink
- Fabric Mod Podge
- Flat paint brush
- Sheet of paper, any kind
- Fasten the curtain panel into the embroidery hoop. Screw the hoop closed and pull the curtain tight, tight, tight.
- Turn the hoop over and cut the excess curtain material around the frame. Put the extra curtain aside and pull the screen taut again.
- Print out or hand draw an image that you will screen print. Keep it relatively simple for your first design.
- Place the screen down onto the design. Trace directly onto the screen with a pencil.
- Using a paintbrush, paint Mod Podge on the screen where you DON’T want the ink to go through. This is called the “resist” because it resists the ink coming through the screen.
- Let the screen dry for a few hours until it’s completely clear. Apply an additional layer of Mod Podge and let dry.
- Place the screen down on the surface and paint. Tip: place something between the layers of fabric, so that the ink doesn’t bleed through. Be sure to get the corners well.
- Pull the screen off. Touch up any areas that need it with ink and a detail brush. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
I had a t-shirt, tote, embroidery hoop, and Mod Podge on hand. The only thing I had to purchase was the curtain panel for $1.
If you enjoyed this project, let me know in the comments. I’d also love for you to check out the following projects: