Screen printing at home: DIY screen print cushion tutorial

screen printing DIY

Always fancied yourself as a printmaker? Us too. And now we’ll be shortcutting our way to surface pattern glory, armed with our own simple hoop screen and homemade mesh screen (find the tutorial for both below). Erin Lacy, who was shortlisted for the 2019 Mollie Makes Handmade Awards, has given you this screen printing tutorial so you can test out your skills. You’ll be screen printing winged motifs on everything from cushions to clothes. 

Before you start on your screen printing journey, check out our other blog posts in the series.

Materials

  • 100% pure silk scarf
  • Wooden embroidery hoop, 12.5cm (5″) diameter
  • Clear Mod Podge
  • Fabric printing paint, 100ml in each Wheat and Midnight (ours were from www.pickprettypaints.com)
  • Foam paint dabbers, 3.5cm (13/8“)
  • Fine paint brush
  • Medium-weight cartridge paper
  • Plain linen cushion covers
  • Bee template, dragonfly template

Instructions

Step 1

screen printing DIY

Cut out or print your chosen template. Alternatively, create your own screen printing template by drawing around the inside of the embroidery hoop onto a piece of paper, then drawing your design inside the circle. Fill in the areas of negative space you don’t want to print using black pen – this will highlight the design details.

Step 2

screen printing DIY

To create the hoop screen, lay the silk scarf on top of the embroidery hoop and cut out a square panel to fit the hoop. Undo the hoop, sandwich the silk square between it, then tighten it up. Pull the fabric until the surface is smooth and taut. Cut away any excess silk around the hoop leaving a small seam allowance edge.

Step 3

screen printing DIY

Place the hoop screen flat onto the template, as shown, and use a pen to trace the design directly onto the silk fabric surface, only drawing around the shapes you wish to be printed.

Step 4
screen printing DIY

Flip the hoop back over and use a paintbrush to apply Mod Podge to the negative space around the design. Start by filling the edge of the design, working from the middle out. Mod Podge acts as a block resistant, meaning the paint now won’t go through these areas – this is called exposing the screen. Hold the screen to the light to make sure all the areas are filled, then leave until dry and clear.

Step 5

screen printing DIY

To print, lay a plain cushion cover right side (RS) up on a flat surface and place the hoop screen face down in the position you want the motif to appear. Apply a small amount of fabric printing paint at the top of the hoop. 

Step 6

screen printing DIY

Using the foam paint dabber, pull the paint down across the surface with a medium pressure. Carefully lift the hoop from bottom to top, revealing the design. This prevents mess and gives you much more control over the screen.

Step 7

screen printing DIY

To create an even repeat pattern, repeat Steps 5-6, lining up the hoop screen with the position of the last printed shape. If the screen becomes blocked, wipe away the paint from the screen before continuing.

Once you’ve finished printing, wash out the hoop screen with water and leave it to dry in an airing cupboard. To fix the printing paint onto the fabric, leave the piece to dry, then carefully steam the area with an iron.

Erin Lacy

screen printing DIY by Erin LaceyErin moved from Milton Keynes to the seaside town of St. Ives to follow her love for print. In her Pick Pretty Paints harbour-front studio, she now produces her own hand-mixed printing paints inspired by her beautiful Cornish surroundings. If you try out her tutorial tag us in your pictures using #molliemakers on InstagramTwitter and Facebook. Oh, and subscribe to Mollie Makes for more quick DIYs and must-make projects.