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Want Shirts For Your Club Or Team? Simple, One-Color Screen Printing At Home

by Taylor Hughes

If you are in need of shirts for a club or team you or your children belong to, here is a simple method for doing one-color screen printing at home. This can be a fun project for the kids too. The first thing you need to do is to decide what design you want on the shirts. Get a physical copy of the design and cut it out of thick, black card stock. Once you have the design, follow these simple steps and you will have t-shirts for everyone by the next meeting.

Gather Materials

There are not a lot of materials needed for screen printing. The most important piece is the cloth used to create the screen. You want something that can be pulled taut, without stretching the weave. Professionals use silk. If you have an old silk shirt you no longer wear, you can cut out a piece to make your screen. You can also buy a small piece of silk from a fabric store; ¼ yard should be more than enough. Here are the other materials you will need:

  • Wooden picture frame – used to hold the screen
  • Screen printing emulsion and activator – this is a photo-sensitive liquid that allows the design to be "burned" onto the screen
  • Thin piece of glass – holds the design in place while it is being "burned" onto the screen
  • Screen printing ink -  to put the design onto the t-shirts
  • Squeegee – used to force the paint through the screen and onto the shirts

Make the Screen

Take apart the picture frame so you are left with only the four, wooden sides left together. Wrap the screen material across the front of the frame, pulling it taut but being careful to keep the weave straight. Staple the material to the frame. Once the material is secured to the frame, mix the emulsion and activator. Coat both sides of the screen with the mixture. Allow this coating to dry in a cool, dark place.

Burn the Design Onto the Screen

After the emulsion mixture is dry, immediately place the cut out of the design onto the inside of the screen in the proper position. Carefully take the screen, with the cut out in place, outside to a sunny location. Place a thin piece of glass over the cut out to keep it in place. The UV rays of the sun will harden the mixture anywhere that it is exposed. The portion under the cut out will not harden. As the mixture hardens, it will change colors. Once hardened, use a garden hose to wash away the mixture that was under the design.


Place the t-shirt on a solid surface, putting old newspaper inside to keep the paint from going through to the back of the shirt. Put the screen on the shirt, arranging the design where you want it. If possible, use clamps to hold the screen in place, if clamps are not possible use bricks or something heavy to ensure he screen does no move when applying the paint.

Pour some paint into the screen. While you don't need a lot, you want to have enough to coat the inside of the screen. Using the squeegee, pull the paint down the inside of the screen. The hardened emulsion will prevent any paint from going through the screen except where the design was "burned." It is a good idea to apply the paint a few times before removing the screen to ensure the design is completely on the shirt. Remove the screen and let the paint dry while moving on to the next shirt.

This is a good way to have matching shirts for your organization or even for family members. If you want, you can change the paint color for different shirts, matching a color to a person. However, if you want a design with multiple colors, it is best to have a professional screen printing company do the work because each color of the design requires its own screen. Each screen must be created and placed so that it matches the other color's position exactly. 

To learn more, contact a professional screen printing company like The Edge Screen Studio