Easy DIY Screen Printing for Holiday Crafts
If you look around for a DIY screen printing tutorial, chances are you come up with some pretty in-depth projects that involve light sensitive emulsifier and a darkroom. While these methods create a beautiful finished product, the precise requirements are not very kid-friendly.
With so many fun craft ideas cropping up during the holidays, it’s the perfect time to get the whole family involved, so we’re excited to share this super easy screen printing method that kids and adults can easily participate in. Since the holidays are right around the corner, we’ll use printing holiday themed napkins as an example, but you can really use screen printing for any textile project, including t-shirts, tote bags, and pillowcases.
Here is a list of the DIY screen printing supplies you will need:
- 1 yard of porous fabric, such as chiffon or voile
- A couple of plastic (for easy cleaning) embroidery frames that are about 12 inches in diameter
- A holiday themed design template that you either printed out or drew
- A pencil
- Mod Podge
- A few paint brushes of varying sizes
- A set of cloth napkins
- Thick acrylic paint, or paint specified for screen printing
- A roll of masking tape
- A plastic credit card or gift card that you don’t mind getting dirty
- A painter’s drop cloth, newspaper, or some other protective layer for your work surface
The Printing Process
- Making the Screens: Take your fabric and stretch it as tightly as you can over the embroidery frame, securing it with the outer hoop. Make one screen for each color you’re intending to use.
- Transferring Your Design: Place the screen fabric side down over the top of your design template. Using a dull pencil, trace the design onto your screen fabric.
- Isolating the design: You need to create a channel for the paint to spread into by masking off the non-design areas. Use masking tape to create a border around your design that extends out to the edges of the frame. Then, use paint brushes of different sizes to carefully apply Mod Podge between the masking tape and the edges of your design. Be sure to create full coverage (hold the screen up to the light to double check), and smooth out any bumps. Allow the Mod Podge to dry for about 15 min. before moving on to the next step.
- Apply the Paint: Iron your napkin to make it smooth, and place it face-up on your working surface. You may want to pin it down to a piece of cardboard to keep it flat. Place your screen over the top of your napkin, and apply a thick, ½ inch bead of paint across the top of your design. Use the credit card to drag a smooth layer of paint across your whole design. Try to evenly coat the design only once, as best you can.
- Lift and Rinse: Once your paint is applied, lift your screen straight up from the napkin, leaving the design printed on the surface. Rinse your screen and frame immediately with cold water, removing all the paint, to prepare it for the next printing. Make any repairs to tape and Mod Podge in between printings, and allow it to dry.
- Repeat With Other Colors: Allow the design on your napkins to dry in between each color. When it is dry, you can use a second (or third, or fourth) screen to apply the next color in your design until the whole thing is complete. Designs that feature only one or two colors are easier and quicker to screen print.
No matter what you try this on, you’re sure to have a fun time and a unique creation! So break out the paints and have a little fun with the whole family this holiday season!