If you need an inexpensive screen print, try this DIY screen print process using heat transfer vinyl. Using this process will allow you to clean the screen and re-use.
Since I have branched out into the heat vinyl world, I asked one of my wholesale customers if she would be interested in some of my flour sack towels. She said she’d like to try my Mackinac Bridge design on a towel and see how much interest there is. So I started right away on her small order of towels.
I soon found that the process with the bridge design was too labor-intensive. That’s when I decided to see if it would be more efficient using a DIY screen print process. I had seen this demonstrated on videos using intermediate outdoor vinyl, and decided to create a screen print stencil using heat transfer vinyl instead. This way, the screen could be cleaned and re-used.
In the end, I was not satisfied enough with the results to offer them for sale. However, I believe with more practice, I can get better results with my DIY screen print. And… the process is lots of fun!
- Flour Sack Towel
- ThermoFlex Plus Vinyl
- Red-capped blade
- Speedball Screen Printing Ink
- Scrap of Sheer Fabric (I re-purposed an old curtain)
- Masking tape
- Stretched Canvas (or other suitable frame)
- Squeegee (a credit card works in a pinch)
- Iron or Heat Press
Settings for KNK Zing:
- Force – 20
- Speed – 9 or 10
- Multicut – 2
- Remove canvas from frame. I found it easiest to do this by slicing on the back side, close to the staples, with my Xacto knife. This was much easier than pulling all the staples out.
- Cut a piece of sheer fabric larger than the size of your frame.
- Pull the fabric around frame to back side and staple all the way around, so that it is stretched across the frame in the same way that the canvas was. You want it to be taut.
- Create design. Remember that you are making a stencil and will be weeding out the DESIGN portion and using what is left of your rectangle.
- Draw a rectangle around your design that is approximately the size of your frame, or a little smaller. You want plenty of blank area around your design.
- Cut and weed your vinyl.
- Carefully lay your vinyl on the frame’s fabric. You want to press it to the side that will be touching the item you are screen printing.
- You may need to fill up the other side of the frame with something before you iron it on or use your heat press. For my frame, it worked to use a BIG stack of printer paper in the open space. Then I carefully placed the stack of paper with the frame placed over it into my heat press.
- Heat press the vinyl to the fabric.
- Remove carrier sheet from vinyl.
- Check to see if there is space around the edge of the vinyl that ink can leak out. If so, use some masking tape to cover it.
- Protect the surface you are working on to prevent getting stain on it.
- Place item to be painted on your protected surface. I put my towel on an old not-too-sticky cutting mat. That worked out great and was sticky enough to keep the towel from moving around.
- You will probably want to practice on something like a scrap of fabric, or old shirt. I used a towel that had a stain on it and did several tries all the way around the towel.
- Place your frame, vinyl side down on item.
- Spoon out some globs of paint along one end.
- Use your squeegee to pull the paint down over your design. This takes some practice. I got different results by how I held the squeegee, how many “passes” I made, how much ink, how fast or slow I moved the squeegee, etc.
- There is definitely a learning curve to this so don’t give up if you don’t get satisfactory results the first time. Also, there are some great videos out there of this technique.