Tuesday, October 11

Everybody, Everywear: DIY - Graphic Tee

When Linda first announced that October's EBEW was DIY, 
I was super excited for the challenge but also a little stumped by what to do. 
You see folks, I do not own a sewing machine, 
so this leaves me high and dry 
when it comes to my ambitious skirt-altering goals. 

So. I did the obvious thing. 
I pined over my lack of a sewing machine for two and a half weeks 
until, finally, I took a look at the tools I did have at my disposal.

ergo, Graphic tee.

Screen - $18 from craft store (with 50% off coupon)
Squeegee - $6 from craft store (with 50% off coupon used during next visit)
Emulsion - $13 from craft store (with 50% off coupon used the visit after)
Fabric paint - varies
Shirt - old or thrifted
Design, printed onto transparency paper
Lately I've become obsessed with illustrations of sailboats. 
So, I drew a sailboat, scanned it into illustrator, 
copy and pasted over and then laid them all out into a pattern.
Piece of glass - as big as your screen (I thrift mine at the local Value Village)
200 - 300 watt light bulb

Begin by preparing the emulsion as directed on the box. Once the emulsion is ready for use, coat the screen using your squeegee. When finished, place screen in a dark closet (where light won't reach it) to dry. It will likely take about an hour. 

To burn the image, the light bulb must hang above the screen, transparency and glass. I balance the screen and glass on the side of our bathtub so I can use the curtain rod to hang the lights - if you've got a better space to do this, definitely take advantage! 

Once the screen is dry, position your transparency over top and then lay the glass above them both. Turn the lights on and leave for 24 minutes. 

When the timer is up, remove the glass and transparencies. Looking at the screen, you should be able to see your image lightly burned into the screen. Take the hose and spray along your design until the design is clear. Once your image is clear, let the screen dry.

While your screen is drying, mix together your colour of choice using the fabric paints. I chose to print in grey with a hint of blue - I know, pretty predictable. Once your screen is dry, place it over top of your tee, where you'd like the print to appear. I did a pattern which, in hindsight, was a little ambitious mostly because it's much easier to get a good print once than it is to get a good print four times in a row.

Once you have printed your tee to your satisfaction leave to dry. Dry time will vary depending on size on print, because I like to play it safe I left mine over night. When the paint has dried, turn the tee inside out and iron. Next, toss your tee into the dryer for 20 minutes, the ironing and drying will help set the print.

And there you have it, your very own graphic tee.

In need of a somewhat less-intensive DIY? 
Check out my beautifying - very easy - coffee exfoliant.


*Once you have the screen printing tools it is very cost effective 
to make t-shirts, canvas prints, coasters, posters and everything in between. 
However, the start-up can be a little costly although it's well worth the investment.


  1. Wow! You get bonus points for this project!! Your shirt looks great!

  2. Your shirt looks great! Makes me really want to try silk screening.  There is a shirt with printed bicycles I really like but am not willing to pay $100 for.

  3. What a cool idea!  I have no DIY skills at all.  Zilch.  Had to sit this one out, but this tee is amazing!  So cool that you gave it a whirl even without a sewing machine!  Props to you!

  4. Wow, this tutorial and the execution are fabulous!  I'm totally inspired to do this myself- yours was one of the most eye-catching EBEW submissions.

  5. What the...?!?!  How did you learn to do this?  Amazing!

  6. You have, hands down, the most original DIY today. I'm so glad you showed the steps, too, so we could all be inspired. 

  7. Very cool I've never screen printed things before I didn't realize how it was actually done.

  8. OMG SORREN!! I love love LOVE this post. Thank you so much for dong a step-by-step tutorial on screen printing. I bought all the supplies over a year ago and have been too intimidated to try to set a screen. I'm definitely going to try this before the end of the year.
    Love your sailboat print, too! I'm such a sucker for all nautical prints. :)

  9. Love this DIY idea! I really must try this.

  10. Yayy!! I'm so happy you enjoyed this post!! I totally understand why you've been nervous about attempting the project. When Jack and I first started it could be super frustrating to get the timing right, no matter what if it's not working out right away don't let it get you down - keep trying!!

  11. Aww thanks, Linda!! Not having a sewing machine definitely helped me think outside the box!

  12. Thanks so much!! I loved doing it so I'm happy that you enjoyed it!!

  13. Dude. This is seriously impressive. I love it!

  14. haha thanks! My boyfriend, Jack, went through the super painful process of perfecting it over a year ago and I have been reaping the benefits ever since ;)

  15. Ohhh bicycles are the BEST print (I have two bicycle-printed shirts). Screen printing is a little pricey to invest it but once you've got the materials it's really inexpensive to make more!

  16. This is just stunning- I was thinking of doing a graphic tee the other day- yours turned out so well!

  17. These are so cute! you did a great job :) x

  18. I'm so impressed with your craftiness! I get super-frustrated with projects like this and tend to just give up before I start. You and your t-shirt both look great!

  19. Wow, I haven't done silk screen since I was in Grade 8 art class! What a super idea for a DIY. I'd love to see more of your silk screen designs when you do your next one!

  20. Wow! This is wonderful and definitely a one of a kind DIY take. Most people wouldn't even think to do some kind of silk screen technique for this challenge, so I'm glad you've enlightened us with such a unique method. Love how the shirt turned out! 

  21. Screen printing has always fascinated me, but I have always been intimidated by it. You did a great job! I may need to try my hand at this sometime soon.

  22. The print on that shirt is beyond adorable! I lovvve this idea so much. I think I need to make one soon!

  23. Such a cute idea! I might have to try this.

  24. Wow! So creative, eh. Love the look of that new shirt. :)

    Cathy@discount scrubs

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