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I’ll Never Win Project Runway, But At Least I Don’t Have To Shop At Hot Topic

Meghan gives a video tutorial for screenprinting. (If she can do it one-handed with a videocamera and a baby, so can you!)

I’ll Never Win Project Runway, But At Least I Don’t Have To Shop At Hot Topic

Have you picked out your outfit for your local Mockingjay release party yet? Cinna can conjure up flaming dresses and have the entire country ready to worship at Katniss's and Peeta's feet, but I'm not that sophisticated. Before you go trying to convince yourself it's ok to shop at Hot Topic just this once because it's in support of the Games, try your hand at making your own. I can't even manage to not be intimidated by fancy screenprinting kits where you expose your screen (not like that, you perv!) and mess with emulsions, but I can show you how to DIY your own shirt for around $25 (and the supplies will last you more than just one project).

Not even this shirt is worth walking into Hot Topic -- if you're tempted, just ask yourself WWKD? Answer: she'd kill a small animal, skin it, tan the hide and draw on it in blood. Luckily, you just have to take a quick trip to your local craft store. Whew!


•  The image you want to print (get the mockingjay here)

•  An embroidery hoop

•  Some mesh material (as fine a mesh as you can, and not stretchy -- sheer curtain fabric works great)

•  A pencil

•  A paintbrush

•  Screenprinting ink

•  Something to print on, like a t-shirt

•  Either screen drawing fluid and screen filler or Mod Podge glue

Screenprint from Meghan on Vimeo.

Don't have enough to drink to get you through the whole video, or had too much to drink to remember what to do? No worries! Here's a quick step by step:

Step 1: Place your mesh fabric in the embroidery hoop to make your screen. Put the screen flat against your image and trace the image with your pencil.

Step 2: Using the paintbrush, fill in your image with the drawing fluid. *If you're using Mod Podge, fill in all the negative space around your image instead. Drawing fluid is water soluble, so if you mess up just wash it out. Sadly, Mod Podge isn't, which is why I like the drawing fluid method better (I screw up a lot).
Let it dry -- go watch a movie, or a couple of episodes of The X-Files on Netflix Streaming. If you're using Mod Podge, proceed to Step 5.

Step 3: Check to make sure the image is totally filled in, and touch up/let dry as needed. Using either a brush or a small piece of cardboard, apply a very thin layer of screen filler to the whole thing. You want to be able to rinse out the drawing fluid (the blue stuff), so don't goop it up with screen filler. Let it dry again.

Step 4: Once again, check to make sure all the space is filled in, and touch up/let dry as needed. Rinse the blue drawing fluid out of the screen with cold water, and let the whole thing dry.

Step 5: Take a bit of cardboard and slide it inside your tshirt to keep the ink from bleeding through onto the back of the shirt. Place the screen on your tshirt (or whatever else you're printing), and blop a little ink on the screen. Using either a brush or a small piece of cardboard, push the ink through the screen onto the fabric. Carefully lift the screen straight up, and -- you guessed it -- let the ink dry.

Step 6: Once the ink's dry, you need to heat set it by ironing it for 3-5 minutes (place a towel between the iron and your shirt so you don't scorch the fabric) or by tossing it in the dryer for an hour.

That's it! now you can put a mockingjay on everything you own, or make your own designs. Team Cinna, anyone?

Pro Tips:

•  The simpler and clearer your image is, the easier it is to work with.

•  If you want to make a 2-color design, you can either make 2 screens, one for each color, or use masking tape to block off the areas of the screen for one color while printing the other.


•  To make a single-use stencil, use the freezer paper stencil method

•  The Mod Podge screenprinting method

•  More on drawing fluid and screen filler

•  Almost-real screenprinting without much equipment

•  Real pro screenprinting


Shameless Self-Promotion!

Check out our Hunger Games themed t-shirts!

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.