DIY screen printing attempts (failure!)

As evident in my last post, we successfully screen printed our own OneTwenty shirts. However, it was a learning experience, with a number of failed attempts along the way. Here I’ll detail what not to do when trying to make your own screen printed shirts.

We knew that we wanted shirts for a quite a long time, and we wanted nice printed shirts rather than cheap-looking iron-on transfers. Our enthusiasm was buoyed by this cheap screen printing tutorial by craftgrrl, but our initial attempts didn’t really work out.

We bought the fabric paint from Jackons in Shafto lane. They have a nice shelf with a whole range of water-based fabric paints. They also sell squeegees and silkscreens, but we figured that at $20 and $40 (?) each, we could try to do without for our first go.


We bought a bunch of stuff from Crazy Clarks, Coles, and the $2 shop. Including a squeegee substitute (a window sponge/wiper), a canvas (so that we could use the wooden frame), some nylon stockings (to stretch over the frame), and some craft glue (which we assumed wasn’t water soluble).


We stretched the nylons over the frame and taped it down with masking tape. This didn’t hold, so we stapled the sides down as well. This worked pretty well and we applied the glue as per the tutorial.



Unfortunately, the glue washed out (maybe we didn’t let it dry enough…), but it didn’t really stick to the nylon anyway. We tried using acrylic paints because we noticed that once they had set, they seemed to be waterproof enough such that they would then block the fabric paint.


Well, this didn’t work out either. The nylon mesh was just too porous and didn’t hold any paint. Moreover, the design we wanted was (relatively) detailed and it would have taken a fair amount of time and effort to paint it onto the screen… especially if we weren’t sure it would work out!

I guess the lesson learnt was “don’t skimp too much”. Although I think we probably could have done better if we had more suitable screen material (like thin curtain material), we later decided to cut out losses and get some more serious gear. Check back soon for an overview of our subsequent success, including where to buy screen printing supplies in Perth and tips on how to get good prints.

2 thoughts on “DIY screen printing attempts (failure!)”

  1. I found this tutorial too and I tried it as well! I had about as much success as you did, which was unfortunate. Gotta start somewhere!

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