Tips for Screen Printing with Ikonart

Tips for Screen Printing with Ikonart

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to customize shirts, tea towels, throw pillows and other fabric with the  Ikonart Custom Stencil Kit. Screen printing doesn't need to be hard and with Ikonart it's not. No more messy emulsions, reclaiming screens, or weeding vinyl stencils. 

With Ikonart you just print your design, expose your stencil film that has the emulsion already coated on the screen, and washout your design. Once your stencil dries you have a reusable silkscreen stencil and you're ready to screen print. Here are some tips I find helpful when screen printing with Ikonart.

> Video: Beginners Guide to Making Ikonart Stencils

Ikonart Textile Stencil Film for Screen Printing

Before you get started with screen printing your shirt you will need to  make your screen printing stencil. We recommend the purple Ikonart Textile Film for screen printing on fabric. This film has a sturdier mesh and stronger adhesive than our original blue stencils. Our purple film was designed specifically to use for DIY screen printing on fabric.

> Video: Difference Between Blue & Purple Stencil Film

Screen Printing Ink for DIY Screen Printing

After you make your stencil you will need to choose your ink. And yes, your ink choice matters! Make sure to use a paint or screen printing ink that is meant for fabric. We recommend   Speedball Fabric Ink on our website, but there are many options and brands out there. If you try one brand and don't like it, we recommend trying another brand. You might find you prefer one over another. Just because one didn’t work for you, don’t give up!

Tips for Screen Printing with Ikonart Stencils

  1. Squeegee Choice: I prefer using our black silicone squeegee when screen printing. Each side of the squeegee is a different size, so I find it works great for a wide variety of projects. However there are a lot of options available when it comes to squeegee choices, so if you are going to be screen printing a lot of shirts or mounting your screen in a Speedball screen printing frame, then you may want to try a larger screen printing squeegee. 
  2. Squeegee Pressure: Your pressure matters!! If you push too hard your stencil could buckle and then you will get bleed, but if you push too light the ink might not go through your screen. we can't stress this enough... practice practice practice!! Start with a scrap piece of fabric and practice first. You can always wash off your stencil and reuse it again and again, so don't be afraid to practice first!
  3. Lift & Look Method: We recommend using the “lift and look” method when screen printing with Ikonart. After you cover your entire design with ink, start from once corner and lift up your stencil slowly while looking at your design as you lift. If you notice a spot needs more ink/paint, just lay your stencil back down and add more. This is easier to do before you remove the stencil completely because then you don’t have to worry about trying to realign your stencil with your design.
  4. Painters Tape: If my design is close to the edge of my stencil and I'm worried about ink getting on my shirt around the edges, I just use painters tape to tape the edges of my stencil. If you do get a little ink on your shirt, just quickly wipe off with a rag and water before the ink dries. 

Screen Printing Multiple Colors

If you are are screen printing a design with more than one colour and each colour is on a different stencil, make sure the first layer is completely dry before doing the 2nd layer. I use a hair dryer or heat gun if I am in a rush, but I prefer to just let each colour air dry for a few hours or overnight in between layers. Just remember that if you use a heat gun, don't hold the heat gun too close and use a low setting. 

If you are screen printing multiple colours and all your artwork is on one stencil, you can use painters tape to block off the parts of the stencil design that are different colours. This is a little more time consuming than making multiple stencils, but it does work.

Heat Setting Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink

After you are done screen printing and your ink dries, you can heat set the ink to finish curing it and make it more durable. You can use a heat press, Cricut press, household iron, heat gun, and even the oven!