Improve Your Screen Printing Skills with These Tips

9 Jul 2012

A few weeks ago I shared some of Margaret Applin's tips for creating a unique digital fabric design. Today I want to pass on her expertise for Thermofax screen printing.

screen printing on fabric pillow
Digital fabric designs become Thermofax
screen prints. Art by Margaret Applin.
Margaret uses screen prints in a lot of her fiber art, combining the surface design technique with stitching.

Screen printing is really pretty easy. But there are some tricks to getting a sharp, clean print. Here are Margaret's tips for making Thermofax magic on fabric.

1. Prepare your screen-printing surface by laying down a generous size piece of cotton batting. You can place newspaper or other protection under the batting but you really won't be using enough paint to soak through your fabric or paper.  I like to lay my fabric or paper directly on the cotton batting because it won't move around while I am printing. 

2. It is always good to have a variety of squeegee sizes to choose from. Using a squeegee that is just large enough to cover the entire image to ensure you print the entire image with one pass is going to produce the best results. 

detail of thermofax screen printing
Detail of screen printing on fabric.
3. Make sure you have enough paint to cover the entire image. This will take some experimentation to get a feel for how much paint you will need on your squeegee. The trick is to get as much paint as you can along the very bottom edge of your squeegee without it falling off and to make sure you get an equal amount across the entire edge. If you have more paint in the middle, your edges are likely to run out of paint.

4. Control the pressure and position of the squeegee as you pass across the image. You want your squeegee to be at a 90-degree angle or perpendicular to the screen surface and use light, even pressure to get a nice thin coat of paint applied. If you tip your squeegee down towards the direction you are pulling to, this will push more paint through the screen. If you don't use enough pressure your image will not necessarily print or the paint will have a lot of wiggle room under the screen and can move. Practice on some scraps before printing to your good fabric.

I'm definitely going to be following Margaret's screen printing tips next time I use Thermofax screens for surface design.

Margaret demonstrates her screen-printing technique and shows how to enhance the surface design with stitching in her
Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, "Digital Design for Screen Printing: Creating Mini Canvas Screens for Surface Design," now available.

P.S. Do you have any tips for screen printing success? Please share them in the comments section below.


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Digital Design for Screen Printing: Creating Mini Canvas Screens for Surface Design (Video Download)

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Explore the possibilities for working in a series using simple imagery, photo-editing software, screen printing, and basic coloring tools!

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Comments

Barb Bulllen wrote
on 16 Jul 2012 9:15 AM

I recently viewed  Digital Design for Screen Printing...it's a wealth of information.  I'm new to screen printing and was hoping she would list a source for the thermo fax screens.  I can't wait to try out Margaret's techniques.

roselegge wrote
on 23 Jul 2013 5:58 PM

Has anyone used discharge paste with a thermofax screen?  Does it hurt the screen?

thanks!

Rose Legge