Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tutorial: How to do your own screen printing, make your own stencils


1. Freezer Paper (Do NOT use wax paper! It will melt!!!)
2. A stencil or outline of the design you want to use.  (I got mine at
3. A marker to trace your design onto the freezer paper.
4. An exacto knife to cut out the stencil
5. Fabric paint (I prefer Tulip)
6. Paint applicator
7. A cutting mat
8. An iron
9. The item you want the stencil to go on (I used a T-shirt)

Now that you have gathered all your materials, let's get started!!!!

Step 1: Lay the freezer paper over your design (shiny side down) so you can see it through the paper and use your marker to trace the design onto the freezer paper.  These are the lines you will be cutting out to create your stencil, so you can decide how detailed you want it to be during this step.

Step 2:  Lay the freezer paper flat on top of your cutting mat and use the exacto knife to cut on the lines you just traced.  If your design is very detailed, make sure to be careful on the smaller pieces and the sharp curves.  This step can seem frustrating and time consuming, but it will be worth it in the end.  So, take your time!!!

Step 3:  After removing all the pieces from your design, it should now look like a stencil.  Place it on top of your project and determine where you want the design to be.  It is easiest to do this step on the ironing board, since you will be determining the exact spot you want the design.  You don't want to get it all set up perfectly and then try to move it to the ironing board only to have the stencil shift.

Step 4:  Turn your iron on to a setting appropriate for your project. (I used the cotton setting since my project is on a T-shirt.)  Iron the stencil to your project (shiny side down).  Be careful not to rip any of the smaller pieces during this process.  Instead of pushing the iron back and forth over the design, I lifted it to move it to the next area.  Once I had ironed each area, I then ironed back and forth over the design to make sure it was sealed on the shirt.

Step 5:  Lay your project flat on a hard surface (like a cutting table, kitchen table, coffee table, etc.) and smooth out all wrinkles. 

Step 6:  Place an old towel or a piece of cardboard in between the layers of your project to avoid any paint soaking through to the back side.

Step 7:  Using a paint brush or paint sponge, fill in the open spaces with the color of your choice.  Be sure to fill in all the open spaces.  Double check it after you are done to make sure you don't have light areas of paint or missed areas near the edges. 

Overlap the paint onto the stencil to make sure your entire design is fully covered.  Depending on the brand of paint you used, let the paint completely dry.  My paint dries in 4 hours.  I usually just let it sit over night to make sure it is completely dry.  This is important.  If you try to remove the stencil while the paint is still wet, the paint could get on the covered areas.  You certainly don't want to ruin your project when you have already gotten this far.

Step 8:  After the paint is fully dried, it is time to remove the stencil and see how it came out.

Step 9:  Remove the stencil by peeling the freezer paper off the shirt.  Do this step slowly to make sure you get the entire stencil.  If part of it tears apart, make sure to remove those pieces using tweezers or your fingernails.

Step 10:  Once you have all the stencil pieces off and you are satisfied with the end result, the only thing left to do is heat set the paint.  Follow the instructions on your paint bottle.  I use a hair dryer, but you could also use an iron.  Make sure to cover the area with another piece of fabric or a towel.  Do NOT put the iron directly on the design.  It will destroy it!!!  Seriously!!!  Also, it is a good idea to always wash this project inside out.

Enjoy!!  Now you know the secret to creating all your own personally designed clothes, gifts, home decor, etc.

I would love to see the projects you make with this tutorial.  Please share some pics!!!

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