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Print Your Own T-Shirts: A Guide

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Pictures are to follow. Since I'm doing this at work obviously I can't be taking pictures of the screening process. Keep in mind there are very many ways to do this. I'm just going to show you exactly how I did mine. First off: Be prepared to get frustrated. It can be a very easy process, or a very difficult one, depending on if you do everything correctly. Also, you're GOING to have mistakes. It's inevitable, on your first couple runs. Even after that, mistakes are still pretty common, even when I'm being careful. Embrace your errors, because a lot of times it will still look perfectly acceptable. The D.I.Y look is nothing to be afraid of. What you need: Blank T-Shirt - Apparel Agents, American Apparel, Alternative Apparel are all my favorites. The first 8 words of that sentence all started out with a. Also, Canvas makes side-seamed shirts that I think are pretty nice, though I don't own any nor have I printed on them. Workspace - the most basic requirement. A workspace for me is simply two stools with a piece of plywood resting on top. As long as you have a flat surface that isn't very thick, you'll be okay. I mention thickness because you'll have to clamp down your shirts and screens onto the board later on, so make sure it isn't more than 2 inches thick. The plywood that I use works just fine, it's maybe .25" thick. As for size, if you rest it on a table, just make sure that it's large enough so that you can move it a little off the edge and have access to 2-5" inches of the flat board, so that you have room on the edges to clamp shit down. Also, do this in a place where it doesn't matter if you get ink or emulsion on the floor. Put down newspapers all over the place if you have to do it inside. Hose Screen - You can buy these at art stores. A common brand is Speedball. If you happen to live in San Diego or LA, look for a store called McLogan. They will have what you need there, and it will be less than half the price as a Speedball, plus you have other options as well when selecting it. If you are near a McLogan, or another screenprinting supply store, make sure to get a screen with around 120 - 160 mesh. The higher the number, the tighter and more accurate the final print will come out, but also less ink goes through. Since we'll be using water-based ink which goes through screens very easily, it doesn't really matter what mesh you do. I've gone up to 160 with no problems but haven't experimented (or needed to experiment) past that. Up to 160 will get you pretty much perfect representation down to font sizes of maybe 7 or 8 pt. Screens at McLogan are around $15. Screens from Speedball are $30-45. Getting a screen with metal bars instead of wood will last longer because wood eventually warps, but you can't use metal-barred screens with my method. Emulsion - Screenprinting supply stores will have this, as well as art stores. At art stores, if you get the Speedball stuff, you have to mix it yourself. I highly suggest you get the same brand of emulsion as your screen. I've done it both ways (used Speedball emulsion on a non-speedball screen, and used non-speedball emulsion on a Speedball screen) and had shitty results. If you go to a screenprinting supplier, ask them what emulsion to use for that screen. Textile Screenprinting Ink - They have this at art stores as well. My favorite brand is Versatex, but there are many. Make sure you're getting water-based ink. Design - Of course this part is important. You need to make a design that is printable in two colors: black and white (NO GREYSCALES). I cant go through instruction on this part. If you know basic Photoshop, you can turn any photo into a black/white bitmap. You need one design for each color you're going to print Spoon - For putting ink and emulsion onto the screen Squeegee - I use the speedball squeegee found at art stores in the screen printing section. It works well for me. You can get other squeegees that I'm sure work just fine. Clamps - You need 3 or 4 clamps to clamp the shirt and the screen onto the board. 300W Lightbulb - Self-explanatory Vegetable Oil - You need this for when you burn the design into the screen. Fan - I always have a fan running in the workspace to keep it nice and dry and side. Its a necessity for the air to circulate so it doesnt become moist, because that can really mess up your prints. ----- More to come later! Gotta get back to work.
post #2 of 17
awesome, looking forward to it!
post #3 of 17
Great thread, someone should sticky this. Add some pictures if you get time.
post #4 of 17
I'm also really looking forward to this. I've been looking for at decent t-shirt the last 2 months, so now I'll probably end up printing my own.
post #5 of 17
SWEET DEAL! Thanks Brian!
post #6 of 17
Very much looking forward to this, I've had some ideas spinning around in my head since I saw that Corpus ninja tee that I wasn't sure whether I should order (I ended up ordering it - thanks raise!).

I would have thought the most basic requirement was a blank t-shirt (or any kind of shirt / sweater?) though.

Anyways, on with the show

m
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lupin23rd
I would have thought the most basic requirement was a blank t-shirt (or any kind of shirt / sweater?) though.

Whoops!!
post #8 of 17
could you let us know how much your set up cost? something i'm interested in doing now that i've grad. from school and have some time on my hands.
post #9 of 17
This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. I want to start making my own t-shirt designs and selling them now that I have a AA wholesale account. Thanks!
post #10 of 17
Eagerly awaiting the next part. Also, what screen size should you use for t-shirts? 8x10? And would you suggest buying one screen per design if we plan on using the design often, or just washing and using one screen for everything? Edit: Also, would you recommend getting a kit such as this: http://www.utrechtart.com/dsp_view_p...me=&item=55890 or just getting everything separately?
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Grapist
Eagerly awaiting the next part. Also, what screen size should you use for t-shirts? 8x10? And would you suggest buying one screen per design if we plan on using the design often, or just washing and using one screen for everything? Edit: Also, would you recommend getting a kit such as this: http://www.utrechtart.com/dsp_view_p...me=&item=55890 or just getting everything separately?
That kit basically has everything you need for the printing, but the screen is kind of small, and Im not sure about the quality of the ink. I like Versatex ink and have had only bad luck with everything else. The one thing I really support about this kit is that it forces you to use both speedball screen and speedball emulsion, which is important. You can't use QTX emulsion on a speedball screen. I've tried it and it doesn't work! Anyway, I've got some kind of nasty flu or something and I'm way tou low on energy to do the screening, take picutres and then post it. But expect it sometime by next weekend. I better damn well recover before coachella. Oh, for screen size, mine are something like 18 x 24. You can use any size you want, just make sure that it's larger than 8.5 x 11, and that hopefully you've got about an inch (more is better) of extra space around the 8.5 x 11, so the ink doesnt get stuck in the sides (which wastes ink and makes cleaning more difficult.
post #12 of 17
Anyone have any thoughts/experience with spraypainting splotches/simple stencils onto t-shirts? Will spraypaint mostly hold up through a wash cycle?

It's just I have an excess of plain t-shirts, and an excess of spraypaint here, and thought maybe I could combine the two...
post #13 of 17
Spraypainted T's are so street! I had a LOVE PARK spray-paint stenciled shirt that were great------fades well in the wash. Unfortunately, the shirt was HUGE and I just can't do that anymore.
post #14 of 17
Second and final thread derailing...

IRON-ON T-SHIRT TRANSFER QUESTION:

I'm familiar with the ones that print onto white/light-color t-shirts - you print them backwards and then iron them on - but the base color is clear, so you obviously can't print white onto a dark shirt.

But what about the ones that print on black/dark shirts? Pictures...



...would suggest that the base is white, so white can be printed onto black, but can anyone confirm this?
post #15 of 17
I know this is a couple of months old but...........are you going to finish it Brian? At least a few of us would love a basic tutorial. Please? Pretty please?
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