Always wanted to learn to screen print your own T-Shirts?

Have you been eager to learn the ins and outs of silk screen printing? It’s easier than you think, which is why so many beginners take to it like a duck to water.

There is a learning curve—-but you’ll also have a blast. Just ask Bob Mongiello whose YouTube video has been kicking around since 2011, becoming a screen printing for beginners must-see:

But before you dig in and begin your adventure, you have work to do, like claiming dedicated space in your home to launch your hobby and getting the family on board.

Your first investment for your maiden home screen printing voyage? Supplies made especially for the screen printing for beginners set. 

We’ll introduce you to 5 diverse kits, one of which is bound to appeal to you once you read the reviews below. 

What are the advantages of owning a silkscreen printing kit? 

  • You don’t have to rent or borrow equipment to learn this art form
  • By owning your equipment, you can learn at your own pace
  • You can start out small and if your interest grows, upgrade your space and supplies
  • You get everything you need to start your projects with a kit rather than buying individual items
  • You’ll do your screen printing at home, so your tools are handy when you want to work(No fair keeping your spouse up at all hours, though)
  • Schedule your screen time around kid’s activities and other obligations
  • If you find this hobby irresistible, you won’t be the first to turn it into a business

 

How to choose the right diy screen printing product for you:

 

Like all equipment, you’ll run into outrageously priced silk screen printing systems and ones that can only be called “basic.” Whichever avenue you choose to take, these are 9 questions to ask yourself as you browse products profiled in this review before you launch your screen printing at home enterprise: 

 

  1.  Do I have a budget that can’t be stretched? 
  2. How much space can I allocate to my new hobby? Remember, you’ll need storage! 
  3. Do I have my heart set on a manual screen printer or an automatic one? 
  4. When it comes to color, how many are enough? Most screeners use between 4 and 8. 
  5. Do I plan to get serious about building a business or is this just for fun? 
  6. Will the kit I pick allow me to create oversized graphics? 
  7. Am I “features crazy”? If your answer is yes, we refer you to question #1! 
  8. Am I capable of the labor required to push and pull a squeegee? (YES)
  9. Must I learn to use these tools on my own or are instructions included? 

Equipment terms just for beginners:

It’s one thing to get creative. It’s another to speak the lingo. As you venture forth, it helps to know a few terms as you grow from beginner to skilled crafter. 

A is for All heads down, a process that allows you to print multiple plates in concert. 

C is for Clamps: Talk about essentials! Must the unit you seek have pneumatic clamps? You decide. 

M is for Micro registration: This feature gives you the ability to produce crisp, multi-color designs. 

O is for Off contact, the “vertical distance” from screen to surface that impacts the finished project. 

P is for Pallets: These come in myriad sizes and allow you to produce all sorts of treasures. 

S is for Spring tension, the control that gives you the ability to lift the screen head effortlessly. 

Ready to pick a kit? Consider these 5: 

1. Speedball 4526 Intermediate SilkScreen Printing Kit

 Let’s say you’re eager but cautious and you want to give screen printing a try, but your modest budget would require you to cut back on premium dog chow to start experimenting. Calm the dog down. You don’t have to skimp to acquire this intermediate screening kit because it’s affordable and comes with all the basics. 

Use this kit to customize t-shirts, produce décor and make gifts. This product is especially handy for anyone who used a stencil in the past and wants to master the photo emulsion process. Speedball produces a video that will take first-time users through the entire project, so if you hate written instructions, this will delight you. 

Pros

  •  You get paints, screen filler, fluid, photo emulsion and remover, Speed Clean, sensitizer, squeegee, print screen, round brush and craft sticks. 
  • System employs the photo emulsion process rather than stencils.
  • Paints are made to hold up to years of washing and drying, so art remains crisp and vibrant. 

Cons

  • Quantities of items you need to churn out projects are so tiny, you’ll need to restock soon.
  • Some users have complained that kits have been delivered with dried up fluids. 
  • Build quality of the screens isn’t always the best and might not last for a lot of printings.

2. Jacquard Products JSI9001 SilkScreen Print Kit

This comparably-priced printing kit could be called “back to basics” kit, because it includes everything the Speedball set does (e.g., colors, silk screen, squeegee, emulsion, sensitizer, acetate sheets, stir stick and instructions), but the paints are opaque and water soluble so they work on natural and synthetic fabrics. 

Use this kit to customize t-shirts, produce décor and make gifts. This product is especially handy for anyone who used a stencil in the past and wants to master the photo emulsion process. Speedball produces a video that will take first-time users through the entire project, so if you hate written instructions, this will delight you. 

Pros

  • Paints have been safety tested and found nontoxic. 
  • Hobbyists who haven’t mastered silk screening using other kits have found this one a breeze to use. 
  • A great starter kit for kids interested in screening because of the safety of the chemicals involved.

Cons

  • Opaque paints don’t show as well on dark textiles as they do on light colored fabrics. 
  • If you’re not careful with color applications, you could have alignment issues. 
  • Kit doesn’t include photo emulsion remover; you must buy separately. 

3. Screen Printing Consumables Techtongda Kit 

While relatively new to the market, you’ll be impressed by the how much value you get if you pick this product. Start screening right out of the box using the aluminum-framed, 80 mesh screen and count on solid locking and registration courtesy of butterfly clamps that are rust-resistant. 

Use this kit to customize t-shirts, produce décor and make gifts. This product is especially handy for anyone who used a stencil in the past and wants to master the photo emulsion process. Speedball produces a video that will take first-time users through the entire project, so if you hate written instructions, this will delight you. 

Pros

  • Includes a pre-stretched screen framed with metal, 2 butterfly cramps, squeegee and emulsion coater. 
  • State of the art kit is new to the market and already getting rave reviews. 
  • Priced modestly, this kit sells out fast because it’s a step above basic. 

Cons

  • You’ll have to buy your paints, emulsion cleaners and other necessities separately. 
  • Because these sell so fast, availability could be a problem. 
  • You may want a kit that’s got more supplies rather than just the basics. 

4. Silhouette Cameo Screen Bundle

Let’s say you’ve taken the leap and bought a Silhouette silk screen machine (models: Cameo; Portrait; Curio). You need this kit to jump into screening. While the screen size compares to others in this review, this one can be washed for re-use. 

Included are a hefty squeegee, hook tool, scraper, beginners guide, plus black, blue, yellow and red inks manufactured by Speedball. You also get 12-inch x 6-feet of vinyl transfer paper, with instructions on how to use it. If you’ve come to the realization that emulsion silk screen printing isn’t for you and you’ve invested a Silhouette machine, make this your first choice. 

Pros

  • Save time, money and avoid using chemicals once you master the non-emulsion printing process. 
  • Paints are water soluble so they’re kind to the planet and the screening can be re-used. 
  • Given the upgraded technology, you can expect more detail in your finished products than with other kits. 

Cons

  • You must first purchase the machine, which adds to the overall cost of pursuing this screening method. 
  • If you’ve an inventory of supplies for manual kits, you won’t be able to use them. 
  • The silhouette method can be a bit limiting and you won’t have the necessary tools to use photo emulsion. 

5. EZScreenPrint At Home Screen Printing Kit

If you’re in a hurry to start producing goods that are personalized with your group name, a cause or original art, this highly-rated screen printing kit not only compares nicely to the other 4 products reviewed here but according to EZScreen print, you’ll be able to create a t-shirt in less than an hour and no machinery or chemicals will be involved.   

Sound weird? It’s not. You get screen printing with professional results on cloth, metal, plastic, tile, glass and anything else that’s willing to stand still long enough to be emblazoned with your art. How is this different? You make a stencil with ink jet transparencies and employ Mother Nature to help you produce your design using tap water and sunlight. Concerned about the Earth? Give this kit a look-see! 

Pros

  • Ideal for folks just getting started who seek a simple method for producing projects. 
  • Comes with 8-1/2- x 11-inch ink jet stencil creation sheets and transparency sheets, a 10.5- x 13-inch exposure unit, small test pieces, plastic canvas, mini-squeegee and bristle brush. 
  • Turns your ink jet printer into a crafting machine. 

Cons

  • Your results depend on the quality of your printer. 
  • Requires being computer savvy to churn out designs or retrieve copyright-free art. 
  • Direct sunlight can be tricky, it’s easy to over or under expose your screen. 

Final Thoughts:

 

We picked 5 DIY screen printing kits around the same price range to show how diverse these kits can be. While the Speedball 4526 comes with a pedigree of sorts, there’s nothing unique about their system and we eliminated the Techtongda Screen Printing Bundle because availability could be problematic. 

You’ll have to own an ink jet printer or a silk screen machine to put kit supplies to work for you if you opt for either the EZScreen system or the Silhouette kit, so in the end, we like the Jacquard most of all because it’s made in the U.S., meets ASTM standards and like that the non-toxic paints are safer for consumers who are unfamiliar with the process. Will your be able to turn the Jacquard kit into a business empire? Probably not—-but it’s a great place to start if that’s your ultimate goal!