How to Make Great Screens for your Fiber Reactive Dye Printing – Part 2!

So somehow it’s been a month since part 1 of this post.  I’ll blame it on the quilt I needed to complete for my niece’s wedding. Which turned out great.  I’ll post about that soon.  But back to screen printing with dye.

Here is where we left off, with the screen complete and ready to use.

Screen Printing with Dye and a Silhouette, at

The next step is to prepare the 100% cotton t-shirt for dyeing.  This is an old shirt I just grabbed from my drawer.  It’s purple, and the dye I plan to use is black, so I think it will show well.  Always remember that dyes are additive, meaning that if you take a yellow shirt and add blue dye, you are going to get a green image.

I soaked the t-shirt in a soda ash solution, and let it dry.  The shirt now looks all blotchy, which is the dry soda ash, not the regular look of the shirt. It is important that the shirt be dry, to minimize fuzzy edges to your final image. But just air dry it, not in your dryer, to protect your regular laundry.  Soda ash is caustic, and can make skin irritated and dry.

Next you need a surface to print on. I have print boards which I have made using thin insulation board from the home improvement store, covered in plastic.  I pinned the t-shirt to the board, being sure to put something absorbent (a piece of heavy craft paper in this case) between the front and back, so that no dye can transfer to the back side of the shirt.  After pinning, I adding some masking tape also, to be sure that the section I planned to print on was flat, wrinkle-free, and would not move.

Screen Printing with Dye, at

I mixed black dye with clear print paste, about 1/3 C of thick print paste and about 1T of black procion dye.  I think there was too much dye, but I wanted to err on the side of too much.  Here’s a video of what happened next:

And here’s a picture of the completed shirt, after it had been washed out and dried. Success!

Screen Printing With Dye, at

You can see the small blip below ‘Wind’, where I did not press down enough to secure the area between the tape and the screen. Lesson learned.

Next Stop: How to improve your screens even more!

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