Screen Printing For The First Time. Ever

by - Saturday, October 11, 2014

For over a year now I've been wanting to test my hand at Screen Printing! It's always scared me a little, and on top of that, it's a little pricey to get all the gear together. BUT, I decided it was time, so I just dove in and went for it!

I bought a Silk Screen, a Squeegee, a Blade and a few different colours of Fabric Ink from my local Jacksons store. I also picked up a few different types of 'Vinyl' from various stores. This allows me to cut out words or pictures, peel it off and stick it onto my screen, to make a stencil. I wasn't actually sure where I could buy this from locally, so I picked up one substitute from Jacksons, another from Bunnings, and then an actual roll of Vinyl from the online Silhouette store (which I'll talk more about later).

I was so nervous to get started! You know those things you really want to do, but are so afraid of messing it up, you keep putting it off?? Well, that was me with getting started to Screen Paint. It was my day off, so I was planning to play around with this project as soon as I woke up! But instead, I woke up, had breakfast and then put a movie on. Occasionally, I would glance over at all that delicious Screen Printing gear feeling oh-so-guilty. 

Eventually I worked up the courage, and decided to go for it. It was one of my friends baby showers coming up in two days time, so I knew I had no time to waste. I wanted to make a few cute little diaper covers for a cute little miss. I'm no stranger to making and selling diaper covers as you may remember! But this time, I wanted to screen print my own fabric for at least two of them, to make them really unique and personal.

So off I went.

As you probably know, living next to a Strawberry Farm has made me a little strawberry obsessed of late! So strawberries were my inspiration for my first screen print. 

I got the Vinyl substitute that I picked up from Bunnings, and turned it over to the paper side. I pencilled out dozens of strawberry bodies going every which way, and then carefully cut them out with my blade. I made sure that the strawberries would almost cover my silk screen, as I wanted to do one print, and be able to cut out my diaper cover pattern afterwards.
Once finished, I slowly peeled the left over Vinyl off, and stuck it down neatly on to the front side of my Silk Screen.
I then secured the edges with tape, so that no excess paint would end up on my material where I didn't want it! Very important!
I put down lots of newspaper, and then lay out my rectangle of plain white cotton fabric that I wanted print on. I put my Silk Screen face down on top of it, making sure that all the 'strawberry holes' were over the fabric, not just the newspaper!
It was then time for the scary part! I opened up my red Fabric Ink, and using a pallet knife, I spread some Ink along the top of the Squeegee. Then holding my Silk Screen firmly down and in place, I dragged the Squeegee across the back of the Screen from top to bottom, in a few even motions. I kept doing it until the paint covered all the holes. If done correctly, this creates an even layer of paint to go through the finely woven holes in the Screen, and neatly through your stencil! (And how I hoped this was true!)
I carefully and slowly lifted up my Silk Screen, holding down my fabric at the same time so it wouldn't stick to the screen or get messed up. 
And it worked!! I couldn't believe it. I actually squealed out loud. The whole process, although scary, was so quick and super easy! What I also love, is that the paint didn't even seem to smell. Which really helps with being pregnant! So it was so easy to do inside, with practically no mess whatsoever.
My next step was to hand paint on the green stems, and the little black seeds with a couple of fine paint brushes. Then I hung it up with some pegs to dry.
While that was drying, I thought I'd give the second one a go. So I peeled off my strawberry print, and washed the Screen with warm soapy water. Once dry, I hand wrote out 'Little Lake' as 'Lake' is the little ones surname.

Note: If you're doing text, you don't have to write it backwards, as when you stick it to the front side of the Screen, it's facing the right way anyway. So no complication there!)

Then I did the same process as I did with the strawberry print. I cut it out with my blade, stuck it down to the front side of my Screen, and taped around the edges. But this time I just did enough tape so that my Squeegee would fit comfortably. (Maybe I'm taking short cuts too soon! But I was careful, and it worked just fine!!)

I had already cut out my diaper cover pattern, so I placed the back piece down on some newspaper, and made sure when I laid my Screen down, that the text would be in the middle. Then I got my black Fabric Ink out, and carefully painted the same way I did for the strawberries, but on a smaller scale.
And that's all there was to it! So simple.
I lifted up my Screen to see the cuteness!
Once I had let my prints dry, I needed to heat set them via the instructions on the back of the Fabric Ink bottles. Making them fine to be washed etc. This was easily done with an iron for a few minutes.
Then I proceeded to turn the cute prints into little cotton Diaper Covers. And I was SO happy with the results!
I have a feeling that this will become a new creative addiction!! I still can't get over how easy it is. What makes it even better though, is that my Silhouette CAMEO 'Electronic Cutting Tool' just arrived!! Which means I'll be able to download, or design almost anything I want, and the CAMEO actually cuts it out perfectly for me! It will make text, and pictures so easy to flawlessly Screen Paint, because there won't be any accidental slip ups with a blade. Plus, it will save me so much time now that I won't have to hand cut out all those strawberries next time! See this video.

I have so much fun making these kinds of things. I can't wait for it to be my turn! Joe and I can find out our little babes gender in another weeks time, and then it's full steam ahead!! I have so many cute ideas, for either a girl or a boy. I am so excited to get started making a few little gorgeous things for our bub! Yes.. I am gong to be that mother! Hopefully, they will grow to love it.

Have a beautiful day,

- A M Y  D A V I S

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