If you want to create some T-shirts for a local event, business function, or other type of outing, then you can speak with a printing business about this. However, if you want to have a little fun with the shirts, then you can try your hand at DIY screen printing. It can take a bit of practice, but you can make some unique shirts at home with just a few supplies and some cheap T-shirts. You should know that there are some common issues that you are likely to run into. The bleeding of the ink is one of them. You can reduce this sort of problem though with the following tips.
Mix The Right Amount Of Medium
Most screen printing inks are plastisol inks that contain plastic materials. Specifically, the inks are made with thermoplastics like PVC. These types of inks do not air dry and require high-heat setting after the screen printing is completed. This allows you to work with the ink and to remove it from the screen without having to worry about dried and gunked up ink ruining it. However, the ink can be difficult for beginners to use, especially since curing is necessary. Also, special cleaners are needed to remove ink from screens, squeegees, and other surfaces.
If you want to use a more beginner-friendly ink, then a water-based variety is a good option. The ink creates a softer look on the fabric and it can air dry, unlike thermoplastic ink options. While air drying is a major benefit of the ink, it can dry a bit too quickly and leave you with a half finished project. If you do not want to work quickly, then you have the option of adding a medium to the ink that extends the open or work time. This means that the ink will not dry as quickly.
While a retarding medium can help to increase drying time, you can create some bleeding across T-shirts if you use too much of the medium. The packaging will often suggest the addition of a percentage of medium to ink, so start with a low quantity first. Also, you can add a bit of the medium to your screen instead of mixing it with the ink. This can help to increase drying time without thinning out the ink too much.
Place Even Pressure On The Squeegee
The placement, pressure, and position of your squeegee must be correct to force ink onto your T-shirts in a way that you intend. If squeegee handling is incorrect, then you can end up with an unclear and poorly structured image. However, you can also cause bleeding, especially if you place too much pressure on the squeegee and force the ink through the screen and onto the fabric. This is common for people who have just started to experiment with screen printing. You may think that you need a lot of pressure to move the ink, but this is not the case.
When you are ready to print, place light to medium pressure on the squeegee, especially if you are using a screen that has medium to large openings. You want to angle the squeegee 45 degrees to the screen. Place your squeegee towards the top of the screen, place your hands towards the edge of the squeegee handle, and pull gently downward with one even stroke.
You want to pull the squeegee down one time or you will force too much ink through the screen. Immediately remove the squeegee and place it aside. Afterwards, gently pull the screen straight up and away from the t-shirt. If you do this correctly, you should not leave any smudges or bleeding spots on the fabric.
As you get more experience, you'll likely want or need a variety of screen printing supplies, so keep an eye out for a supplier you can rely on.