Thoughts on Screen Printing

screen printing - detail

I love patterned fabrics. I might lean toward solids or easy patterns such as polka dots, stripes or plaid when sewing, but I love beautiful prints just as much: think Liberty, vintage florals and interesting geometric patterns to throw in between. So of course it’s a dream for me to come up with my own design and then print it myself.

While you can print practically any design with digital printing, hand-screen-printing has some restrictions: limited colour choice (2-3 max.), difficulties with precise repeats and possibly uneven colour application. Also, the paint ‘sits’ on the fabric and may crack if it is too thick. But there are so many good and interesting parts about printing as well: Preparing the screen, washing it out, mixing the colour, ironing the fabric onto the printig table…. and then the actual printing!

Our theme was structure/TEXTure and after some random doodling, I came up with my design: Speech bulbs, some of them with flowers inside them, others exploding and releasing the blooms. Honestly, very random, but I quite like it. There are several ways to bring your design onto the screen – what you need is an opaque desing, it could be a paper stencil or printed transparency paper. I wanted a very hand-drawn look, so I chose ‘Pausdeckrot’ (a colour that restists the intense light) and drew my design directly onto some tracing paper, which I then lay on top of the prepared screen. It worked fine, I just shouldn’t have diluted the paint that much – the lines are not as precise now as they could be and some parts were really difficult to wash out, because the light did get through.

But then I was ready to print! I chose light blue on white cotton, keeping it airy and simple. Printing was actually the fastest part of the whole process. Sometimes I could have used more paint, but I like the overall result. I don’t have concrete plans for the fabric yet, maybe a light dress for summer. I also printed a scrap piece of curduroy with a pattern from one of my colleagues – the colour sank right in, but paint flattened the pile, which creates a really interesting effect. The fabric is very dark, it doesn’t look like much in pictures, so no photos of this one. I might make a skirt out it, I’ll show you the fabric then!

Screen-printing was definitely interesting and fun, but I did not fall completely in love. I do like how fast you get great results, though! I also found a link for a printing-at-home tutorial where everything is explained step by step. Very helpful, check it out if you’re interested!

screen printing - design

screen printing

screen printing - fabric


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