Screen Printing for Quilters
With: Shirley Goodwin
Skill Level: Beginner
If you thought Screen Printing was complicated, think again. This class is a fun and easy way to create inexpensive original fabrics.
Create your own designs and discover the joys of being able to screen print your own fabric. Explore how screen printing can provide color and texture to your quilting and textiles without the need to use traditional methods. This is a fun and easy class, suitable for all levels. Please note: This class is NOT about printing t-shirts and does not cover traditional commercial-type screen printing methods.
When you sign up for this course, you get two bonus tutorials too. One on how to make your own screens for screen printing and another one for how to make fabric paints.
Supplies Required for Workshop
I have included a number of Screen Printing Suppliers and a Glossary of Terms to refer.
WHAT YOU NEED
Screen 10” x 14” (minimum), 20’ x 24” maximum. You need to get a fairly coarse mesh, 8XX or 10 XX (32T or 42T in metric). (see notes below)
Squeegee (see notes below)
Paint (see notes below)
Several newspapers to make a thick layer that you can cut and print on
Around 1 yard/meter of cotton batting or felt to go over the newspapers
Around 1 yard/meter of heavy cotton fabric (eg duck, canvas or similar) which will be the top layer - the printing surface
An old china plate to lay your squeegee on
Small plastic containers (I use yoghurt containers) to put your paint in
Some plastic spoons for the paint
Scissors (not your best fabric ones)
Freezer paper for stencils
Masking tape and duct tape
A couple of cheap artist’s paintbrushes
Mask-Ease or clear Contact (shelf) paper
Some pieces of thin plastic the same size as your screen - you could use old plastic file covers, acetate
2 to 3 yards/meters of cotton fabric. You can use any plain white, dyed or colored fabric, any color, as long as it’s clean and ironed
3 to 4 yards/meters of white or muslin (calico in Australia & New Zealand), washed and ironed
Several pieces of dark commercial fabric, any size
Half a yard (metre) of medium weight sew-in Vilene (interfacing)
X-Acto or craft knife
Notebook and pen/pencil
For cleaning screens - some mildly abrasive cleaning powder such as Ajax, and an old toothbrush or nail brush
There is no need to rush out and buy an expensive screen printing squeegee at this stage. You can use the small plastic scrapers available from auto parts or hardware stores; wallpaper smoothers; Bondo scrapers; or other plastic scrapers. Your squeegee needs to be small enough to fit inside your frame and stiff enough not to bend (and break) when you apply some pressure to it. One of my squeegees is a grouting tool used by tradesmen. Window/shower squeegees are not suitable.
You will need at least 3 colors, and at least 4 oz per color. The primary colors are good, and I like to add a jar of white as well to make pastels. You can use transparent or opaque paints, but if you plan to use dark fabric as your background, you will need to use the opaque ones so that they’ll show up properly. Sometimes the paints are referred to as “inks” in screen printing, so watch out for that if you are buying online. You can use any paint that is suitable for textiles and fabric, however the paint you buy needs to be quite thick. Thinner fabric paints, such as Setacolor and Jacquard Textile paints, are not recommended as they are more difficult to control, try to avoid these. You could also use thickened dyes if you are familiar with this - however, this class does not cover dyes.
There are endless brand names, depending on which country you live in - I am using New Zealand paints that are not available elsewhere which is why I don't list them. Sometimes they are called paints, sometimes they are called inks - it's all the same thing. You can even use ordinary acrylic house paint, but that tends to change the feel of the fabric and harden it.
The screens we’re going to use are made with a wooden frame, with mitered corners, and a polyester multifilament mesh stretched tightly over this. At one time, the screens were made with silk as this gave the best results, hence the name “silk screening”. There are different sized meshes for different types of screen printing, with very fine ones used to produce detailed work on paper, and more open mesh for fabric, such as we’re going to use. The mesh number, ie 12xx, refers to the number of threads per inch. This is divided by 2.5 to get the metric equivalent.
You may have a screen made from polyester monofilament instead of polyester multifilament. Here are the equivalent sizes :
Multifilament Monofilament Metric equivalent
8xx is the same as 80-90 is the same as 32-36T
10xx is the same as 110-120 is the same as 44-46T
12xx is the same as 120 is the same as 48T
Prochem www.prochemical.com - for ProFab paints, fabric
Dharma Trading www.dharmatrading.com - for paints, screen printing kits, fabric
Dick Blick www.dickblick.com for paints, mask-ease, frames, squeegees
Enasco www.enasco.com for squeegees, speedball paints, screen printing kits, mask-ease
Triarco Arts & Crafts www.triarcoarts.com for paints, squeegees, kits
Screenstretch http://www.screenstretch.co.uk - for everything but the paints
George Weil http://www.georgeweil.com/ for frames, squeegees, paints
Eckersley’s http://www.eckersleys.com.au - for kits, paints, screens, speedball paints, squeegees
Fine Art Supplies http://www.fasart.com/ - for paints
CCG Industries http://www.ccg.co.nz - for paints, screens, squeegees, frames
These are a few known suppliers - there are many others.
- Preparing your workspace
- How screen printing works
- Making paper stencils
- Learning methods to apply paint
- Making more permanent stencils
- Positive/negative printing
- Words and letters
- Mixing colors
- Making resist stencils using interfacing
- Printing layers
- Making abstract screens
- Printing with household items
- Making your own frames
- Printing yardage
- Printing onto clothing
- Discharge printing
Flooding/the flood - Lightly distributing the paint across the screen prior to making the print. The paint sits in the mesh at this stage.
Pull/pulling - the process of moving paint down or up a screen in order to make a print
Resist - something that is applied to a screen to stop paint going through it. The resist can be all over the screen, or on parts of it.
Stencil - a paper or plastic layer containing a design that allows some paint through the holes
Stroking/the stroke - a pull that involves enough pressure to move the paint from the mesh onto the fabric, creating the print.
Thermofax screen - a commercially produced screen made from a photocopy of a design. Not covered in this class.
Well - the area at the top and bottom of your screen, on the inside, where the paint is placed.