I love using my Cricut to make shirts with vinyl. But some projects call for a different kind of look.
That’s why I tried out the screen printing method. And after a few tries, I’m hooked!
Here’s a simple how-to and a few things I learned along the way.
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What you’ll need to get started:
With the exception of the painters tape, the links above will take you to all the same products that I used.
I didn’t have any painters tape so I improvised with duct tape. It worked fine.
Cutting your design
You can cut your design on a couple of different materials. I cut my first design on white ‘sticky’ vinyl like you would any other vinyl project, with no mirroring.
I cut my second design on the leftover backing of the vinyl I used for the first design.
Some people use parchment paper.
Use whatever works for you… but I found different types of material should be used in different ways with your screen print frame. More about that a bit later.
Weeding your design
You have to weed your design the opposite way you would usually weed vinyl.
You need to weed out everything you want to see in the ink.
Notice my design? I’m a big fan of classic horror movies. Click here for more designs from classics like Friday the 13th, Halloween and Jaws. You can download the SVGs to DIY some awesome Halloween shirts!
Putting your design on the screen print frame
If you’re using regular ‘sticky’ vinyl, the best way I found to put your design on the screen print frame is to do it like you would any vinyl design… by using transfer tape to adhere the design onto the inside of the frame.
You also want to border it with something like painters tape. As I mentioned above, I didn’t have any painters tape so I used duct tape. Whatever you use, be sure to tape all around the image so that you don’t get any ink on the shirt outside the design.
You’ll see the other method I used to put the design on the frame when I used the vinyl paper backing a little later in this post.
Inking your design
Start by pouring some ink at the top of your design on top of the tape then pull the ink down with the squeegee to cover the entire design.
A little bit of ink goes a long way. If you have some left over, scrape it off and put it back into the jar.
Completing your design
Carefully pull off the screen print frame and admire your masterpiece, then let it dry for a while. I let mine dry for several hours or a whole day.
Once it’s fully dry you need to heat the ink to set it into the fabric. I pressed my shirts on my heat press for 20-30 seconds at 300 degrees.
You’ll also want to rinse your screen print frame and squeegee. I rinsed mine right after I inked each design and the screen came clean really quickly and easily.
My first shirt was by no means perfect. But I liked the rustic, imperfect quality of it. I mean, it is from a vintage movie after all.
Reusing your design
Always wanting to stretch resources as much as possible, I learned you can definitely re-use the design before taking it off your frame. After rinsing the frame, I just reapplied ink to another shirt.
This is a great option if you want to do the same shirts for a group of people.
Using different material
As I mentioned above, for my second design I used the backing from the vinyl that I had left over from the first design. I cut it on the cardstock setting. But since the backing isn’t sticky I couldn’t stick it to the frame. And without it sticking, I didn’t think there would be any way I could keep it from pulling up the design. So I placed the design right onto the shirt and put the screen print frame on top of the design.
I was also kinda lazy and didn’t border the design with tape so I had to be super-duper careful not to get any ink on the shirt outside the design. Thankfully, I didn’t.
It turns out, I actually liked this method better. With the design on the other side of the frame, I didn’t have to worry about pieces of the design coming up or scraped by the squeegee.
What I learned
- You need to work on a completely flat surface. An uneven surface could cause ink to be applied too light in some places or not show up at all.
- A little ink goes a long way. Start with a small amount and apply more if needed. And put the excess ink back in the jar, it will last you through several projects.
- Pull the ink down with the squeegee slowly. If you go too fast you might scrape up small pieces of your design, which results in getting ink where you don’t want it.
- You need to apply somewhat strong pressure when filling in your design with ink. If your touch is too light, you won’t get enough ink through the screen and onto your fabric.
- Make sure the ink is distributed across the whole design equally or you will see variations in the ink in the final design where it is thicker in some places and thinner in other places.
- Make sure you have the design covered with ink the way you want it before you pull up your screen. If you try to put your screen back down for a second application of ink, it won’t match up exactly, making your final design look a little funky.
Experiment • Have Fun • Good Luck!
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