We’re back with the third instalment in our screen printing at home series. We’ve covered DIY frames and bought in the professionals for their advice, and now we’re discussing the material you’ll be needing for your screen. Screen printing requires a thin material of the right density to be stretched across your frame, to allow the ink to pass through. There’s several different types of material you can use so we thought we’d gather our top four (two of which are top craft hacks) so you can start screen printing at home!
Top tip: No matter what screen or frame you choose to try screen printing, with remember to pull your fabric taut across the frame. If loose, your design can easily become messy and smudged. Staple or nails those sides down tightly for a crisp transfer.
Tights make for a great DIY alternative to meshing, which can get pricey if you’re doing lots of screen printing. Plus it’s a more eco-friendly option than throwing your old, holed tights in the bin. Nude tights or stockings are thin enough to allow the ink to pass through, but beware! They’re extremely easy to rip or puncture, so pull the material across the frame carefully, keeping the tension.
2. Net curtains
Video tutorial featuring Amanda Claire by Expert Village using curtains as a screen.
Another sustainable option for screen printing at home are net curtains! Again, this material won’t give you a super professional finish, but it’s fab for beginners wanting to test out their skills.
Your next screen option is silk organza material, and this one’s for the traditionalists. Originally all screen printing used silk, but as silk became more expensive and less accessible many people now use our next option, polyester mesh. We thought it was worth including though as you might be able to dig out some scraps of silk from your craft stash, or you can purchase silk organza from Etsy.
4. Polyester mesh
Polyester fabrics, mainly polyester meshing, is the most popular choice for screen printing. The thickness and thread count of the polyester mesh, called the mesh count, can be chosen for your desired finish. The tighter the mesh, the higher the mesh count, the more detailed your print will come out. Wiki How has a fab breakdown of the effect different mesh counts will give you:
- For the distressed, vintage look, aim for a loose 85 mesh count.
- To get a clean clear print, aim for 110-130 mesh count.
- If you’re paper or plastic printing, you’ll need a mesh count near 200-250.
You can pick up polyester mesh from most craft retailers and on Amazon.
Now you have your screen printing frame ready! Next up is to use either emulsion to attach your design onto your screen (this is the more professional method and means you’ll be able to wash off your design and reuse) or simply tape your design onto the back of your frame (perfect for beginners and those of us screen printing at home) and get printing.
Next up in the series we’ll be sharing some screen print inspiration and giving you a free pattern.