oubly screen printed t-shirts

How to Make Screen Printed T-Shirts for Your Summer Attire

I’ve taken screen printing classes where you use massive silk screens and print on super nice, thick Rives BFK paper. It truly is an art form to get amazing, precise prints. However, I decided to try this technique using recycled materials from around the house to screen print a t-shirt.

It totally worked, and I love the worn-in, destroyed, painterly effect that I ended up getting. Plus, it’s fun to know that when you wear the shirt out and receive a compliment, it’s all thanks to your handy work.

Follow these steps below to create your own unique screen printed t-shirts.

Materials:

  • t-shirt
  • design, printed out
  • wooden picture frame
  • panty hose
  • staple gun with staples
  • Multi-surface or fabric paint
  • old credit card
  • paintbrush
  • scrap cardboard
  • scrap paper

Step 1

DIY screen printed t-shirts step 1

Start out by gathering a wooden frame, staple gun, and cutting out a section of panty hose. I used a top portion of the panty hose on an 8×10’’ frame.

Step 2

DIY screen printed t-shirts step 2

Flip the frame over to the back, take a corner of the panty hose, and staple it down.

Step 3

DIY screen printed t-shirts step 3

Stretch the panty hose tightly to the opposite corner and put in another staple to secure.

Step 4

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 4

Staple down another end of the panty hose while pulling it taunt.

 

Step 5

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 5

Secure the last corner of the panty hose.

Step 6

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 6

Secure the rest of the panty hose down by pulling it tight and securing with a staple. Staple going back and forth in opposite directions in a similar fashion to the corners until the panty hose is truly secure.

If you notice any of the staples ripping away too much of the panty hose, just ease up a little.

Step 7

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 7

Cut away any excess panty hose.

Step 8

DIY screen printed t-shirt step

Reinforce the panty hose with duct tape. Start on the back, and cover all four sides.

Step 9

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 9

Flip the frame over and reinforce the front frame with duct tape as well. This helps ensure that the tightness of the frame will hold.

Step 10

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 10

Take your printed design and place it how you’d like it to appear under your frame. I decided on the word ‘surfboard’ in an homage to SoCal summer and Beyonce.

If you’d like to do the same, you can download our template here.

Step 11

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 11

Lightly trace the outline of your design with a permanent marker.

Step 12

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 12

Decide what parts of your design you’d like to be t-shirt and what parts you’d like to be ink. I wanted the t-shirt material to be the ‘surfboard’ letters, so I marked them out with Mod Podge.

Basically, wherever you paint the Mod Podge, the t-shirt material will show. I also used a green Mod Podge so that I could see exactly where I was painting it down. I did a total of four coats, letting it dry completely before applying another layer.

Step 13

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 13

Once your screen is completely dry and you feel you have masked out all desired areas completely, it’s time to print. Gather up a t-shirt, scrap cardboard, fabric paint, a brush, and an old credit card.

Step 14

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 14

Do a few test prints with your screen on some scrap paper. Each screen will react differently depending on how tightly it is pulled. I tested out just using the credit card to pull ink across, just the brush, and then a combination of both.

I found that a combination of both worked best for me. To get the letters so that they were more readable, I ended up patting ink through the screen with the brush, and then using the credit card to pull extra ink across.

Step 15

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 15

Once you’ve figured out how you should pull the ink across your screen to get a good print, it’s time to apply that technique to your t-shirt.

Before starting, make sure that a piece of cardboard is in the middle of the shirt to avoid any seep-through. Then, put your frame in position and have at it.

Step 16

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 16

Pull the frame away from the shirt, and then fill in any areas that you’d like by going back in with a paint brush. I also went back with the credit card and additional paint because I liked the aesthetic.

Step 17

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 17

Let your shirt dry completely. After that, it’s ready to wear!

DIY screen printed t-shirt step 18
As you can see, this technique won’t yield precise results, but it does offer a distressed feel that would be hard to replicate in any other way.

Paulina Kay

Paulina Kay

is an artist, photographer, kitten lover and milkshake enthusiast who grew up in Michigan and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fine art and sunbathing. She hopes to one day marry Trueblood's Alexander Skarsgard.

One thought on “How to Make Screen Printed T-Shirts for Your Summer Attire

  1. Hey Paulina Kay,
    Above you are giving such a wonder information for making screen printing T-shirts. But I ask just one think, how can I use photos in place of text.

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