Fashion Forward: Easy Screen Printing Projects for You and Your Child

The Museum is abuzz with excitement as the final stages of install for the Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk exhibition kick into high gear! To help get you in the fashion mood, here’s a fun D.I.Y. project for you and your family to do at home.

We all have those neglected articles of clothing lurking in the backs of our closets and dressers–the ones we always think we might wear someday but never do. Give these old friends new life by screen printing them with your own designs! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Old article of clothing (t-shirts, skirts, etc.; cotton jersey and silk work well)
  • Opaque fabric screen for printing (You can buy single frames from art supply stores like Asel. You can also purchase screenprinting kits with everything you need for around $60.)
  • Screen printing ink (for fabric, available at art supply stores)
  • Squeegee for printing (either rubber or plastic, available at art supply stores)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Butcher paper or brown craft paper, sized to fit your screen
  • Scrap paper for making a test print
  • Pair of scissors or x-acto knive
  • Pencil
  • Iron & ironing board

Steps: You will be making a paper stencil with an image that will be printed onto your garment. You can repeat this image, layer different stencils together to create patterns, or whatever else you can think of!

Make your stencil:

1. Draw your image or design in pencil on your butcher paper. You can make it as complex as you want, but you may want to start with something basic for your first try.

2. Cut out your image using scissors or an x-acto knife. Save any cutout pieces you may need later.

Do a test print on a scrap sheet of paper: this step actually preps your screen for when you print your garment. Make sure you are working on a flat surface that’s ready for mess.

1. Place your stencil on top of your scrap paper and arrange any cutouts as needed. Carefully place your screen on top of your stencil (fabric side down).

2. Mix your printing ink well with a popsicle stick. Spread some ink at the top of your screen (enough to cover your stencil). Using your squeegee, spread the ink across the stencil, making sure you get a nice, even coat.

3. The ink will make your stencil stick to your screen, making it ready to use when screenprinting your clothes. Carefully peel your screen/stencil combo away from the scrap paper.

Now print some clothes!

1. Make sure your garment lies flat. If you are printing the front of a shirt, skirt, etc., remember to place a piece of cardboard inside it first so that the ink doesn’t bleed through.

2. Place your screen where you’d like your design to go and follow the printing steps from above.

3. Once your image is dry, make sure to heat set it before washing or wearing. Turn your iron to the “cotton” setting and iron the front and back of the image for 3-4 minutes on each side. Make sure to put a piece of wax paper between your iron and the image before you begin.

That’s it! Be sure to clean your screen ASAP by rinsing it under warm water. There are lots of advanced screen printing techniques to be found online, and if you purchased a screen printing kit the booklet included will have lots of ideas as well.

Share your handiwork with us! We’d love any images that you’d like to send of your finished products and will post them on our Flickr page. Please email me at if you are interested and have fun creating! P.S.–we will be having lots of fashion-related programs for families in the coming months; hope to see you here!

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier is a paid exhibition and contains adult themes and language and may not be suitable for younger audiences. Please consult with a Visitor Services representative if you have questions about the exhibition. Catalogues are available for viewing prior to exhibition entry.

Posted by: JC

1 Comment

Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Center for Creative Connections, Children’s art, Homeschool, Just for Fun, Parents, Teens

One response to “Fashion Forward: Easy Screen Printing Projects for You and Your Child

  1. Pingback: Friday Photo: Luke at those Spots! | We Art Family! The DMA Family Blog

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