An Experiment in Screen Printing…

When I saw that my friend Leslie of Maze & Vale (formally Onegirl) was doing a handprinted fabric swap, I couldn’t resist joining in. I have been wanting to experiment with the whole screen printing thing for quite a while now and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. My last hands on experience with screen printing was in high school, so I’m hardly an expert. This is not a tutorial but just a little guide as to how I went about it all and what I could improve on.

Equipment & Materials: I was lucky enough to pick up some printing ink from my local art shop very cheaply as they were clearing out this range. The only colour choice was silver, so silver it was! Fabric I have plenty of, and my very lovely friend Pilgrim lent me her screen and squeegee.

Design: Rather than burning onto the screen with emulsion (which I have no idea how to do), I thought making a stencil with vinyl adhesive (Contact) would be a good alternative. Little silver clouds seemed appropriate so I had drew the design and cut it out with a craft scalpel, then stuck it to the underside of the frame.
Looking back I should have drawn the clouds horizontal to the frame which would have made repeat prints a lot easier with less negative space. The next part was all a bit clumsy as I was on my own. Trying to deal with ink, hold a frame down, squeegee and then relocate the fabric was not impossible but would have been a whole lot simpler with another set of hands. I think most screen printers use a hinged frame so things don’t shift around. Probably used way too much ink and ended up with silver hands!All in all, I think I did ok. I found the quality of my prints erratic and consistency was a problem. I only had a couple of perfect prints and the rest had patchy areas (see bottom left, below), I’m sure this was down to my technique, or lack thereof.
I also suspect towards the end some of the ink may have started to dry in the screen silk because I wasn’t working quickly enough? Would love to hear from anyone that can give me some pointers. So hung out the fabric to dry, then ironed to heat set.
My fat quarters are all cut up and ready to ship around the world to my swap partners, I’m excited to see what they’ll send me.
I’m not sure if this whole screen printing thing is for me though, it was quite enjoyable but the clean up was a real pain. I really need an assistant to do all the dirty work.

Have you tried screen printing before?


  • Bianca says:

    looks great!

    Did you flood in between prints? there are a lot of things that can make it patchy, but anything opaque is hard and dries quickly.

    I think you did a great job, it looks so cute on the floral fabric.

  • Miss Cinti - my poppet says:

    Hi Bianca, thanks. No i didn't flood between prints so that was probably my 1st issue right there. I read about that after the fact. I'm more a give it a try rather than research person.
    x cinti

  • designed to a T says:

    I was also going to suggest flooding. You need to do that so the ink doesn't dry in the screen. Also if you are only going to do small print runs you should set your fabric up before you print. Position a paper stencil for example on your fabric where you are going to print, place your prepared screen over the paper stencil to line up your artwork and the screen, then maybe draw around your screen with tailors chalk so you can line the screen up each time. The tailors chalk will wash out. Another hint to stop the fabric moving, spray the area where you'll place the fabric with a very fine coat of spray glue. Very fine, I find this helps me. Email me if you need, I'm no expert.but I do little print runs and just worked things out as I went along.

  • leslie says:

    i actually think it looks pretty amazing! especially for your first, dive right in effort : ) another tip is to use a larger table, then you can spread all the fabric out you need to print and move just the screen around, not the fabric.

  • Lili says:

    what was the brand of the ink you used as i had a bit of trouble with mine when i printed for the swap …

  • Miss Cinti - my poppet says:

    Hi lili, it was speedball brand.

    lol leslie, i must have chosen the smallest table in the house. It was emmas little table that comes upto my knees. It was the only one i could take outside.

  • designed to a T says:

    Sorry I forgot to say I've worked for 2 screen printers in years gone by, do my own screens through trial and error with emulsion and exposing in the sun. Again a lot of trial and error and writing down what I did and what the results were.Hope some of this helped..T

  • amy jane says:

    wow! this looks so great! and it looks pretty simple to do! might need to try this… : )

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