I have to be honest. This project was really intimidating for me. I don’t know if it was because screen printing, on the surface, seems really complicated or the fear of ruining materials that aren’t cheap or disposable. However, I have to tell you. Screen printing is much easier than it appears and it was so fun. I’m already planning all kinds of projects!
For years, I’ve wanted to try screen printing and finally decided to dive in. I bought the Speedball Intermediate Screen Printing Kit on Amazon for about $35 and dreamed up simple but useful projects to teach myself how to use it. Obvious answer: onesies for our baby. I mean, baby needs to have fun and clever things to wear, right?
First, I have to give a small plug for the Speedball Intermediate Screen Printing Kit. I can’t believe how much came in the box. Not only did it include really easy to follow instructions, but the kit comes with everything you need to grow your skills. When I unboxed it, I didn’t know what the heck half of this stuff was, but a quick read through the instruction book cleared everything up. Different liquids for different types of screen printing. There are basically three different methods included in this kit.
However… I decided to include one more method and it involved my Cricut.
The limitation of basic screen printing is you have to use designs that have continual connections or you end up with awkward gaps. Or you are limited to using “Stencil” style font. You know the one I’m talking about – with the lines to make sure the inside of your letter B or A don’t get lost.
I don’t like those limitations so I was on a mission to use designs from my Cricut cut into vinyl. This method worked beautifully! Here’s how you can achieve great results.
Using baby onesies as an example…
Always prewash the fabric material to be printed. As with any fabric project, I slid an extra thick piece of cardstock under the top layer. Amazingly, I didn’t experience any ink bleed during this process, but every material is different so better safe than sorry.
- Avoid using reusable vinyl. This type won’t stick to your printing screen as well as you’d like.
- Explore Etsy for SVG files* to find truly creative options. Of the four designs I used, three of them were SVG files purchased from Etsy for about $1 each.
* Note: SVG File = Scalable Vector Graphics File. Basically, it’s a graphic that, when uploaded into Cricut Design Space, won’t lose its shape, proportions, or details when you resize it. Make it big, make it small. It’ll look the same. You will want to make sure it actually cuts the way you’d like though. Just because it can go small, doesn’t mean it will cut pretty small.
Confession: Weeding a vinyl design is one of my favorite things to do while crafting. Look at that image come to life!
Apply your transfer paper and ensure everything is properly secure.
Now, this took some patience and finesse. Your vinyl may not stick perfectly to your screen, especially if it is brand-spanking-new. Secure as best you can and be super patient when removing the transfer tape. I found pulling the tape back at a perfectly parallel, flat angle worked well.
Ta-da! Like magic!
See what I did there?
Ooookaaaaay, nerd. Back to the project.
Tape off the edges of your design using masking or painters tape. This will keep your vinyl in place and protect your material from any ink overflow.
Then position on top of your material where you want the design to live.
The Speedball Kit came with everything I needed for the project, including the perfect little paint brush to distribute the paint. You kind of want to gob the paint onto your vinyl – but not into the stencil space. Don’t worry about using too much. Excess screen printing ink can be recovered at the end of the project and put back in the jar. It’s worse to not have enough. Trust me.
Using the squeegee provided, pull the ink, top to bottom, at a roughly 60-degree angle. You may need to hold the frame into place or have someone help you. Speedball also makes a box that you can screw the screen into (see the little holes) that is extra.
Pay careful attention to two things:
- Travel across the design at a consistent slow speed with heavy weight. Speedball describes the pressure as the kind you would use to open a heavy door.
- When you get to the end of your design, pull up before you have an ink run-off issues.
You can go over your design multiple times as needed. Add more ink on the vinyl where it’s needed and pull through again. Check your squeegee too. You could have ink there that can be added back to the vinyl using the paint brush to be repulled across the design.
When the design is ready, slowly pull the screen up from bottom to top, holding the material under the screen. You want it to separate smoothly.
How cute is this?!
For the record, yes, I did destroy one onesie because I didn’t use enough paint and removed the screen to check on it. I tried to go over the design again but it wasn’t lined up quite right. Lesson learned.
Allow the fabric to dry. I let mine sit overnight just to be sure. Leave your cardstock lining in place. You’ll need it for the next step.
When completely dry, you want to cure the ink into the material. Do this by putting your iron on the appropriate heat setting for your material. Place a piece of copy paper between the design and the iron. Heat the design for 1-2 minutes. Remove paper and you’re all set!
For your vinyl stencil, you can use it multiple times in the same sitting, but I don’t recommend trying to save it long term. Your screen should be appropriately cleaned and by trying to save the stencil on the screen you run the risk of ruining it.
How cute are these?!?!?!
For screen printing, I highly recommend batching your work. Pick a day and let it be the only crafty thing you do that day. While the process is quite simple and the results are amazing, all of the equipment needed takes up significant space and consistent attention (applying ink, washing the screen between designs, etc).
Are you ready to give it a shot? I cannot recommend the Speedball Intermediate Screen Printing Kit enough.
As I mentioned, I already have an extensive list of projects I want to do, so expect to see more screen printing in the future.
Until then, happy crafting!
This blog post was not sponsored but contains links as part of an affiliate program I participate in. Meaning, if you click through and purchase, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission. I have student loans to pay… help a sister out.