Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tutorial for printing your own tshirts

For yesterday's race, we wanted tshirts. Buying a custom printed shirt is expensive. we didn't want that!  So, I designed a little shirt and printed our own. Here is a tutorial for you as this is a printing process that anyone can do!!
Now, I have to say that if I was going to make 10 or more shirts, I would screen print them. I have that capability and knowledge, but I know that a lot of people don't. You could use this printing technique that I will show you to print as many shirts as you want, it would just get tedious.
The upside to this technique is that there is no wasted paint and no mess!! Score! (Screenprinting has mess and waste.)
So back to this technique. I didn't create the idea, I just tweaked it for my use. In the art world, it's a monoprint.
Step 1: Design your shirt. I first had a fat font and a heavy graphic. This didn't work very well as I ended up with lots of squishy paint. I would suggest that you stick with a simple font and simple graphic. You can always add more paint later, but it's hard to work with gobby paint.
Step 2: Print your graphic in REVERSE or MIRROR. It doesn't need to be in color and it doesn't matter if it's inkjet or laser, you are not using the paper, you are working with the image.
Step 3: Using Dimensional Fabric Paint, trace the image. I was really afraid the paint would dry to quickly and that it wouldn't print, but that was really only a problem with the school house as it was a fine line. I could have gone back over it and made it a thicker line, but I chose not too. I will say that I practiced on the back of old shirts a few times. I was leery of how it would print and didn't want to ruin a good shirt.
Here is an early print. I  used too much ink on the letters, but I love the way it looked on white! (we didn't want white for the race as we weren't sure about getting wet/muddy)
Here is another print. I did this one directly on the blue shirt. It did NOT work. But here is what I learned, if you print and it looks horrible, use spray and wash liberally and put directly into the wash and the paint COMPLETELY comes out!! Awesome!!
Alright, so here is a print ready to go. I just used black paint and the lines are fairly thin.

Step 4: Turn your paper over and place directly onto the shirt that you want printed. I have my shirts on tshirt boards, but you could use a piece of cardboard or a few layers of newsprint. You just need something to absorb the extra paint and to protect the other side of the shirt.
Step 5: RUB GENTLY but FIRMLY the paper onto the shirt. I start with one corner and rub over the entire surface of the paper. Yes, even the part that doesn't have paint. You want to make sure that the entire print had a chance to adhere and set onto the shirt.

Step 6: Carefully pull the paper off the print. I start at one corner and pull at an angle gently rolling the paper off the print.

After the paint set up a little, I just painted in the shoes, outfit and bow. That was probably the easiest way to add color. But, another option is how I did my shirt. I traced the black and then went back and added the blue and red.

 You can see from the print that it was too much blue and red and that it smeared out of the edges. Not a great clear print, but worked well for what I wanted the shirt for.
So there you have it! A tutorial for printing your own shirts!

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