Screen Printing | KBS Style

One of the fun parts of girls camp is having some crafts. Often we make bracelets (and I still have every one of them) and last year we made Harry Potter shirts (see here) using the Silhouette Heat Transfer.

While doing heat transfer is fun, cutting and weeding that many and ironing them took quite a bit of time that day.

This year I was on a quest to see if screen printing would be any better. While we could have used a vinyl and fabric paint route, there were itty bitty details in the design I wanted to use that were not conducive to vinyl on fabric. On top of that, I’d have to cut xx many to make it work for everyone.

That was not an option. Too time consuming and tedious.

So that wonderful thing called YouTube came into play and I found various methods of screen printing.

What to do. What to do.

I knew I didn’t want to go the emulsion route. Chemicals. Messy. Blech. I won’t explain it in detail if you don’t know what it is. Just look it up. You’ll understand. :)

We were camping after all. It needed to be simplified. Cleaning needed to be easy.

In my quest, I found this video. Not only did she use her handy dandy Silhouette, her project was amazingly detailed. And the thought of making a screen from sheer drape fabric and an embroidery hoop? Genius! That way you can save your screens!

Since this was all new to me, I thought it best to use a Speedball Printing Screen, which I purchased at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon. I thought it would be more durable for all the shirts we were doing and such. I also purchased the Speedball paint in black and white.

I think we found our new yearly craft in the t-shirt genre. My mind is already spinning with ideas for next year’s image. :)

One of the biggest tips I can share about this project is:

Make sure you have the right vinyl.

I had some Oracal 631, which I think was the regular old, original-style Silhouette vinyl. I was a bit panicked when it was bubbling when transferring from the tape to the screen. It just wasn’t sticking to the screen. There was no way it would work. Using Oracal 651 or the Premium Silhouette vinyl was the ticket. Luckily Lisa had some on hand because the Premium Silhouette vinyl was nowhere to be found in this valley.

So here’s what worked for me.

This was my first time screen printing, so if any of you have tips or tricks, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear your experiences of what did or didn’t work for you.

1.  Design your image and cut it in ‘the good stuff’ vinyl (Oracal 651 or Silhouette Premium). I used Silhouette Studio and my Cameo.

Remove the part you want in color.

Repeat that mantra. Refer to your image. You will forget. You want to leave all the negative space.

I used the camper and the ‘CAMPER’ from the Happy Camper kit. The ‘Happy’ is different because it’s a free font…and I can’t sell a free font. :)



2.  Add your transfer tape.  On something like this, I like separating the end and laying that as even as possblie on the end and then slowly pull it away, smoothing down the part that’s getting covered as I go.



3.  Get your screen ready. This is the one that I used. Notice the translucency.



4.  Lay down the vinyl/tape combo onto the inside of your screen. Make sure your image is as straight and evenly placed as possible. It just helps when placing it on your shirt. Smooth it on with a scraper to secure it to the screen.



5. Carefully remove he transfer tape. If a piece comes up, use your finger or the spatula to rub the tape/piece back onto the screen.



Doesn’t it look so pretty? And in case you are wondering about what the bottom two lines mean….3B stands for the three ‘B’ families that go–Banks, Bearnson, and Bradford. And we started this tradition in 2009.



6.  Add blue painters tape around the open outside edges so that no paint will go through.



Now you can see through the screen and where the paint will go.



7. Prepare your shirt. I used a large cutting board as my shirt surface, placing the shirt over the cutting board, like it was being worn by a person. I also used some brown postal paper between the top of the shirt and the cutting board so the paint wouldn’t go through. I had secured that with duct tape on the edges prior to placing the shirt. I didn’t have a paper bag, but I did have that.

Use some kind of ‘binding device’ to hold the shirt and screen in place. I bought some cheap clamps at Harbor freight. Some tiny ones to hold the shirt and some bigger ones to hold the screen. I think I may have spent under $7 on those. Worth it.

You need a pliable scraper. After looking and looking, I opted for this tool in the wallpaper section at Lowes. Speedball does make a squeegee, but I wanted something a little more pliable and smaller so I could work with the smaller bits and not worry about them getting pulled up. It may have still worked, I just opted for this method….and it was only a dollar-something as opposed to the $7 squeegee tool.



8.  Lay the paint and spread. I forgot to take a picture of this, but I took a plastic spoon and just dabbed a line of paint across the top, middle and bottom parts of the image. A little goes a long way! I don’t think I used much more than a teaspoon.

Once you have the paint down, start pulling paint smoothly and evenly with your ‘spatula’ device, working all the angles to be assured  it going through the screen.

To clean, just run your screen under water and use your hands gently over the surface of each side. You will probably want to clean it after five or six shirts because the paint can start drying in the image and then it won’t pull through as well



This would be on the back side of your shirt or on your cutting board had you not had the buffer. :) Looks kind of cool though, eh?



9. Ready to set. Remove the screen and voila! It”s awesome! Take a hairdryer and get it dry to the touch.

Iron it for 30 seconds over the whole thing on a Cotton/300 degree setting. We placed parchment paper over it and ironed on that.

Kass has washed hers and the paint softened, but seems to look good. This is our first time doing this, so we hoped we’d done it right for wash and wear. :)



And look how pretty it is on Kristy’s pink hoodie! I loved seeing it on all the colored shirts that Lisa and Kristy had brought!



If you have a zippered hoodie, secure the zipper as flat as you can and add painters tape over the zipper. I aligned one edge of the tape and gently used an x-Acto knife to cut the other side for a nice even strip of tape.



I’m not sure why mine didn’t set as evenly. The screen was slightly different, the zipper could have affected it, or the fact that we made a grey from combining black and white could have done something. I want to do this on a green zipper hoodie that I have with just white paint, so we’ll see how that goes



All in all, we had a blast doing this. We had a nice set screen and our own little sweat shop going in Kristy’s trailer. Please note: Do not run the AC and the hair dryer at the same time in your trailer…you can blow a fuse. ;)

Love this bunch of girls! 
(Kass forgot her shirt and Jordan was at work this day)


2017-05-20T09:14:51+00:00August 13th, 2014|diy, projects|20 Comments


  1. Elaine B. August 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I love all the ideas you come up with to use the Cameo. I’m definitely going to give this a try!

  2. Diane August 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    All I can say is WOW! Those shirts look great! I haven’t tried screen printing so I can’t add any advice but it looks like you have figured it out quite well. Awesome job!

  3. Rene August 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I can’t see step 7

    • Kerri August 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Oh whoops. That’s just me misnumbering. :)
      I shall correct it.

  4. yolande k August 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Woaw !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Merci pour ce tuto !!!! Vos tee-shirts sont trop beaux !!!!!!!

  5. […] to Kerri’s blog for complete […]

  6. Clairewa August 13, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Well, you made THAT look easy! Your shirts look great – and have inspired me to have a go. Thank you so much for the awesome visual tutorial :)

  7. Kristin V August 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

    My cousins, sisters, moms, and I all get together every year to have a great big craft weekend. I’d love to make some shirts like this for our next one. Do you have any kits like your camping kit that would be great to use for a crafting weekend shirt?

  8. Diana Waite August 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    this looks AWESOME! I’ve been wanting to do something like this but haven’t gotten on it–couple of questions. Can you reuse the speedball screen print frame? And do your shirts have to be 100% cotton? Thanks!

  9. Patty August 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Fantastic job! I love it!

  10. Ruth G August 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

    OK, now I wanna do this! My daughter always has loved quirky things, so I’ve made so many things for her parties over the years. Now that she’s a teen I think she and I could make some great t-shirts to show some of her passions to the world! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m pinning this for sure!

  11. Kelsie October 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I’ve done a little bit of screen printing with vinyl but run into a big problem with the ink seeping under the edges of the vinyl after using it once or twice (which makes making the “re-usable” screen time consuming and pointless). Did you use heat to stick the vinyl down on the screens? Yours look so great!!

    • Kerri October 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      I didn’t have a problem with seepage at all. The premium vinyl makes a huge difference. We did several t-shirts with that one image and I’m sure I could some more. I wouldn’t use it for a production line or anything ;), but it worked well for many shirts. Maybe the screen and or the ‘spatula’ made a difference too, I’m not sure.

  12. Catrina S February 2, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Love this! Yours turned out fantastic! Would love to try!What kind of paint did you use?

  13. Natalie October 18, 2015 at 6:49 am

    This is wonderful!! I’m curious, were you able to remove the vinyl and reuse your screen?

    • Kerri October 18, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Yes, you sure can! In time, the screen will need to be replaced because it will wear out, but I’ve removed the vinyl to put on a new design and it’s worked just fine.

  14. Steven B April 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    You said “The ‘Happy’ is different because it’s a free font…and I can’t sell a free font.” Why do you say that you can’t sell a design that uses a free font? Perhaps you mean that the license for that particular free font prohibits commercial use? If that’s the case then you are correct, but not all free fonts have that limitation.

    I’ve made my son screen printed t-shirts for school for 4 years. for that we have a different design on each shirt. I use my Silhouette to cut the design out of freezer paper. Then I place that stencil on the shirt, place the screen on top, and then apply the ink just like you described in your post. It works really well. I’m able to make a dozen t-shirts with 12 different designs in not too much time.

    I use Aerotex paint. It cures without heat. You just need to air dry it for 2 or 3 days. That’s worked well for me.

  15. […] Happy Camper T-Shirt from Kerri Bradford Studio. Vinyl Stencil Screen Print Method. […]

  16. Randi May 17, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Super cute! Curious how they held up after washing?

    • Kerri Bradford May 17, 2017 at 10:51 am

      They’ve hold up really well. Just make sure you heat set it and you’ll be fine.

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