Want to learn how to screen print at home?
Screen printing can be a really cheap, accessible way to start printing your own T-shirts and totes. After starting YUK FUN with some T-shirts printed by other people we realised it would be cheaper and more fun to do it ourselves. We made a little illustrated step-by-step guide to how we set up at home with basic equipment and very little space. We’re working on the real life print version as we type!
Screen printing tips
Extra things about how to screen print at home that we’ve learned along the way that didn’t make it into the comic.
Get some cardboard
- If you’re not using a printing press (e.g. you’re just printing on your kitchen table) you’ll want to put a smooth piece of cardboard (mountboard works really well) inside the t-shirt when you print onto it. Unless you’re printing onto super thick T-shirts the ink might seep through a little. Sweatshirts are thick enough to not need anything.
Printing with Permaset Supercover ink
- This ink is thick and will dry really fast depending on the temperature of your environment. We have an extensive pile of test sweatshirts/t-shirts that are terribly printed because the ink dried too fast on us! It’s put us off printing with white ink but we use orange Supercover for printing our Yes Mate No Mate Sweatshirts still. We’ve found that mixing a little water in with the ink to make sure it’s nice and runny HELPS A LOT. Also make sure to flood the screen in between T-shirts to help stop your design drying out.
- Another option for protecting your printed design when you’re heat curing is using a teflon sheet. We haven’t personally tried this but it’s been suggested by a friend!
Coating a screen
- Before you begin to coat your screen with emulsion, prepare the area where you’ll dry it. We usually coat a screen in the evening and let it dry overnight somewhere dark and dust free. There’s nothing more annoying than finding you’ve got specks of fluff and dust dried into your screen. And if you haven’t got time to wait (time is money innit) getting a little fan heater on it will dry it in no time.
Washing your screens
- The only thing that has changed since making the comic is we’ve moved into a bigger room to screen print in, where we have enough space for a washout booth. When we first started we were printing in our tiny spare bedroom next door to the bathroom (pretty convenient for cleaning up). The ink may start to stain your bathtub after a while (even with obsessive scrubbing post screen printing) so we don’t recommend doing this long term if you’re planning to do a lot of printing.
Our illustrated guide to screen printing includes a couple of pages of resources covering: where to get wholesale clothing to print onto, places to buy equipment and our favourite places to get inks etc. Oh and cute illustrations. The risograph zine version is currently sold out in our shop but keep your eyes peeled for the second edition! Sign up to our mailing list for first dibs.