Making your own t-shirt can be a great way to show off a little bit of your personality and can also be a really thoughtful gift. Screen printing can seem like an incredible experience, which is why we’ve broken down each step for you.
What do you need to print your own T-shirt
Ready to design your own t-shirt? Before you get started, you’ll need a few things, so put together:
- Screen Printing Frame (You can DIY or purchase a screen or kit)
- Squeegee (or piece of hard cardboard)
- Photo emulsion and sensitizer
- Lamp with bright bulb
- Jet printer
- Place cardboard (or something else) inside the T-shirt.
- Fabric Ink (Speedball)
You will also need a dark space to place the screen with the emulsion in until it dries completely.
Step 1: Prepare Your Design
You can also just use text for your design and we have a lot of fun jokes and pranks to start. Basically, all you need is a printable design, preferably with large, solid lines.
If you want to keep it simple, you can use a catchy slogan or a simple free vector image downloaded from a site like Pixabay.
As a beginner, it’s probably best to start with a solid color design. When you are just starting out, layering colors in screen printing is quite a challenge. For simplicity, you can also choose a design that will look the same when flipped.
Once your design is ready, print it on a piece of paper to make sure it fits on the page the way you want it to. You can then print it on transparencies, preferably with an inkjet printer. If you don’t have one at home, check out stationery stores in your area and see if they offer translucent printing services.
Step 2: Create or Buy a Frame
You can purchase fairly inexpensive screen printing frames, or even a screen printing kit that includes a frame, fabric dyes, and emulsion.
But if you want it to be a DIY project from A to Z, you can make the frame yourself. You can either buy firewood and build a frame, or buy cheap canvas. Just remove the canvas and keep the frame in place. You will of course have to buy a canvas that is larger than your printed design.
If you’re building your own frame, 2×2 pieces of wood is probably best, and you can create a square frame in the exact size you want. For an adult t-shirt, a size 16 by 16 is probably better. You can also place buttons in all four corners of the frame if you want it to be flat and the screen not touching the surface you are working on.
For fabric, you can buy silkscreen, or even try some fabrics like organza or voile. Pull the fabric as you wish along the frame and pin it in place.
Step 3: Prepare emulsion
Now that your screen is ready, you can prepare the emulsion you are going to apply to it. The emulsion consists of a sensitizer and an emulsion. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle, especially with regard to sensitivity to light. You’ll want to do this step in a dark room, or you can use black light to see what you’re doing without breaking the emulsion.