How To Make Your Own Screen Printed T-Shirts

Posted on: 4 May 2015


The summer season of festivals, concerts, and all sorts of other outdoor activities is upon us. One way to commemorate an event – and perhaps make a little money – is by making your own unique T-shirts to sell to the people attending the events. Here is how you can make T-shirts using the screen printing method.

Make Design

The first step in the process is to make a design. You have to be careful here, because you don't want to make a design that infringes on any trademarks or copyrights – for instance, you can't use logos and sayings that others have claimed for themselves (like National football League logos). Other than that, you want the design to reflect what the event is about.

Make a Film Positive

The next step is to make a film positive of your design. The positive is made by printing your design onto a transparent sheet (like an acetate or prepared acetate sheet) using black ink. If you have a good digital printer at home, you should be able to make the film positive by yourself. If you don't have a digital printer, you'll be better off taking your design to a commercial printing shop to have them make the positive for you. The important thing is that you create a sharp image with a high contrast on your positive.

Create a Printing Screen

Printing screens are made with a mesh-like material like polyester that is stretched out over a frame usually made of wood. You need to firmly stretch out the material over the frame and staple it into place to keep it taut. You will also have to use a screen printing emulsion (you can find one at most art stores) to transfer the image onto the mesh. You have to go into a dark room to evenly spread the emulsion out over the mesh sheet - the emulsions typically have a negative reaction to bright light.

You can convert a regular room into a dark room by blocking sunlight from entering the room and exchanging the white-light bulbs with yellow-light bulbs. Let the screen sit overnight in the dark room. The next day, you will use a very bright light to sear your design onto the screen (follow the instructions on the type of emulsion you're using to do this right).


Place the screen print over a T-shirt, apply ink, and spread it out using a screen printing trowel. You should purchase a screen printing press to make this job easier and to make sure the T-shirt won't bunch up when you're applying the ink. Let the ink dry and package the T-shirt so you can take it to an event where you will sell it. Contact H B Fast Print for more information.