July 12, 2011

Screen Printed Harry Potter T-Shirts

This past week and a half I have been busy making my costume to wear to the Harry Potter premier this Thursday night.  For the movie I am going to dress up as Fred Weasley and my friend Brandy is going as Fred's twin brother George.  This seemed fitting since Brandy and I in real life are always getting mistaken for one another.  We are the same height and hair color so I can see why a lot of people think we are sisters.  For our costumes we made matching Quidditch t-shirts with lions on the back that have the initials F and G written inside the lion.  It was a blast to make the shirts and they turned out great.  Here are the steps to make your own screen printed tee.

Step 1:  Gather your supplies
I found all of my supplies at Jo-Ann's fabric store.
  • t-shirts
  • embroidery hoops
  • shear fabric (not tulle)
  • modge podge
  • paint brushes
  • putty knife
  • sharpie
  • printed design of your project
  • fabric paint
  • Iron
  • tape
Supplies for D.I.Y screen printing

Step 2:

Get your shear fabric and cut out a piece large enough to fit in your embroidery hoop. Pull fabric tight while screwing in the bolt that tightens the hoop.  When you are buying your fabric choose one that is closely weaved together.  This will come in handy when you are modge podging your fabric in another step.  This is why I suggest not buying tulle.

This is what your fabric should look like in your embroidery hoop
 Step 3:

Tape the edges of your hoop and fabric down with masking tape.  This will keep your fabric from slipping down when you start putting modge podge on your fabric.  You may need to cut any extra fabric off to tape it down easier.

Tape the fabric to the hoop
Step 4:
Choose your design.  You can free hand your design or find something online and print it out.  I decided not to free hand mine and printed this design off line for the front of my shirt.  I used photoshop to design my lettering and pattern but you can use microsoft word also.  Make sure you print your design to the size you want the final project to be.  You can print out a few different sizes and compare which one looks the best before committing to one.
This is the design I chose for the front of my tee

Step 5:
Trace your printed design onto your fabric hoop using a sharpie.  If your design is fairly large like mine is, you may need two different embroidery hoops to fit it nicely into the center of the hoop.  Below I am tracing part of the back design onto my fabric.
Tracing the back of my design
Step 6:
Flip your hoop over and use your paint brushes to fill in the areas that you DON"T want paint to seep through.  Make sure you know what part of the design will have paint and which one won't or else you might have to start over.  I used several sizes of paint brushes for this part.  The small ones were necessary to get into the small crevasses while the larger brush was used for painting a large area around the design.  For mine, the letters were going to be receiving the paint so I painted the area around them to keep paint out.  Make sure to cover more area around the design than you think you will need to.  Paint tends to spread farther than you think.  So play it safer than sorry here.  Once the glue dries, hold it up to the light and double check you didn't miss any spots.  Missing areas is easy to do and you can tell with my shirts that I didn't quite cover everything.

Flip the design over

Use modge podge to paint the areas that you do not want paint. 

Step 7:
Once the hoops dry (over night usually) arrange the first hoop onto your tee shirt.  Make sure it isn't crooked or off to one side.
Place hoop centered on top of the t-shirt
Step 8:
Add your fabric paint.  If you are afraid of it slipping out of place you can have someone hold it or place a few heavy books on the edges.  Once you have enough paint on, use your putty knife to scrape it along your design.  Scrap it back and forth and up and down making sure to hit every nook and cranny on your design.  The thicker the paint is applied the better it will look when you remove the hoop.  Once you have covered the whole area, carefully remove the hoop without bumping it.
Apply your paint

Scrape your paint onto your design

Once you remove the hoop let your paint completely dry before adding the second part of the design so the paint doesn't smudge.
Adding the second part of the design

The finished back side
Step 9:
Repeat the steps for the front of your shirt.
First part of the front design

Adding the second piece to the front design
If you find some of the design did not transfer onto your shirt like I did you can easily fix this.  Wait for the paint to dry and wash out your hoop with warm water.  Once the shirt and the hoop is totally dry, put the hoop back onto your shirt, line it up with the area you already painted and then add a second coat of paint and really work the paint into the area without moving the hoop around.
Missing parts of the design

Close up of missing paint

Design after I added a second coat of paint with the hoop

Step 10:
Once the paint has dried on both the front and back of the shirt you will need to heat set the paint.  To do this turn it inside out and use an iron on a dry setting.  The shirt will pucker where the paint is on the opposite side.  Then once you have ironed both sides, throw the shirt into the dryer for 20 mins.  And then your done.
Iron the shirt inside out to heat set the design

The shirt should pucker where the paint is

That's it!  It can be a little time consuming but well worth the wait for your own custom tee shirt.  Below is the back of our Fred and George Quidditch shirts.  The next blog I post should be Friday after the premier of Harry Potter with loads of photos of every one's costumes.

The finished front of both shirts

The finished product.  The back sides of the F and G lions

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