Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


My first screenprinting attempt…not too shabby!

Screen printing results | Thread Theory

As some of you have been wondering, the screenprinting evening last week went very well!  Three women came over to learn how to apply the emulsion to the screen.  We set up my tiny little bathroom as a dark room with trash bags over the window and the provided dark room light in the light fixture.  It wasn’t a 100% light safe environment so next time I think I will stock up on heavier trash bags (or wait until we move at the end of June and can create a more permanent dark room set up).

Of course, I forgot to take photos of the fun evening because we were all so focused on screenprinting (and chatting and drinking wine)!  Instead, I’ve taken photos of the actual printing process for you to look at instead :).

Screen printing set up | Thread Theory


The screen required four hours of drying time after applying the emulsion so everyone went home and I set the alarm for the wee hours of Saturday morning so I could wake up before it became light out to pack the dry screen away in it’s trash bag.


Flooding the screen | Thread Theory


After getting the screen ready to expose, the next step in the printing process was to create a “positive” of the eventual print on clear transfer paper.  This held me up for a while because the transfer paper provided is for ink jet printers and we only have a laser printer in the Thread Theory studio.  My parents have an ink jet but I kept forgetting one element or another each time I went to their place to print the transfer!  I ended up just printing it on our laser printer which lead to okay results.  I think the text would have been darker (and would have exposed better on the screen) if I had used the correct printer.

Screen printing for the first time! | Thread Theory

Last night I exposed the screen which was actually one of the easiest steps.  I waited until it got dark and made my kitchen into a semi dark room by putting down all the blinds and installing the dark room light in here rather than the bathroom.  The kit comes with a 500W bulb that installs onto the press so that the screen can be placed directly under it to expose.  Easy peasy!  My text didn’t end up perfectly clear of emulsion but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out based on all the iffy circumstances the screen had to go through (thin trash bag protection from light, not-very-dark dark rooms, time between applying the emulsion and exposing it…etc.).

First Screen Print | Thread Theory

This morning I made my first prints with mixed success.  I’m glad that I didn’t invite the other ladies back for this first experience because, while my first print went wonderfully, my second and third became increasingly fuzzy.  I would hate for this to have happened on their t-shirts or bags!

Printing comparisons | Thread Theory

What ended up causing this fuzziness was that ink from the first application seeped through the clear text and onto the underside of the screen.

The first print (left) compared to the second (right):

Fuzzy text while screen printing | Thread Theory

The second print (left) compared to the third (right):

Super fuzzy text while screen printing | Thread Theory

Any idea what could have caused this to happen?  I think it could be due to several factors.  I may have used too much ink, I may have pushed down too hard with my squeegee, or I may have run my squeegee over the screen too many times during each printing session (I was nervous about my imperfectly exposed text and how much ink it would allow to pass through the screen).  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this problem!


Have you tried screenprinting?

As those of you who follow my Instagram feed (thread_theory) might have seen, I recently bought a screen printing kit!  I have high hopes for the development of my screen printing skills and I’d love to share the journey here on the blog with you!

Have you tried screen printing before?  Do you hanker after specific screen printed items?  The biggest allure for me, when it comes to screen printing, is the ability to print designs on my home sewn menswear garments!  I find it very difficult to find interesting cotton t-shirt knits – they are often only available in solid colors and the prints that I do manage to find are usually on knits that are too drapey to create a manly t-shirt.  How neat would it be to sew Strathcona T-shirts in a variety of manly neutrals (charcoal, navy, white, and black for instance) and then decorate them with awesome prints!?!?

1. Maya Muse Textiles (Etsy Shop – specific tea towel no longer available)

2. Urban Outfitters (pillow no longer available…but it’s a great idea: Screen printing on Liberty fabric!)

3. Sin Clothing (Etsy shop with a variety of screen printed tanks)

4. The Curtis Casa (A blog post about printing cherished family recipes on textiles)

5. See Kate Sew (An excellent tutorial about screenprinting on fabric)

6. Modcloth (The tea towel is no longer available but it’s super inspiring!)

I’ve been creating a Pinterest board with inspiring screenprinting designs and concepts (some of which you see above).  After spending an hour or two doing this one evening, I suddenly want everything screen printed…Strathcona T-shirts, tea towels, sewing machine covers, ironing board covers, floral fabrics, Comox Trunks, napkins, linen tank tops, the hem of a dress, tote bags, dopp kits…the ideas abound!

Even though I tried screenprinting once in design school, it still seems quite daunting to start learning this process on my own.  In school we had the screen created professionally and then our teacher set up the press and placed the ink.  We then got our turn holding the squeegee while he showed us how much pressure to apply and helped us swipe down the screen.  Needless to say, I wouldn’t consider myself a master printer!


To help combat my nerves, I scoured the internet for the most all-inclusive, easy to use kit that I could find that would still lead to very professional results (I didn’t want to buy a kit that I would only grow out of after creating my first couple screens).  I found the DIY Table Top Screen Print Kits made by Ryonet (a major screen printing supplies supplier).  I’ve received it in the mail and have carefully examined all the contents.  The box it arrived in was huge and the press is EXTREMELY heavy duty (very impressive).  When we move to our new house I plan to set up a work table that I can permanently attach the press to since it is so heavy and a bit awkwardly shaped for storage.


So far, Matt and I have watched the in-depth DVD that was included with the kit and I’ve read the photographed instruction booklet.  The DVD made the process seem really approachable as long as you take the time to set up your equipment properly (for example, I need to make our bathroom into a dark room with the light bulb provided before I can start creating my first screen).

To make the learning curve more fun I’ve invited a bunch of creative business-owning women over this evening and we are going to tackle the creation of our first screen together!  They are all quite interested in screen printing for their own businesses (whether it be to print embroidery designs on fabric, print logos on sewing supplies kits, or to print designs on custom created garments) so it should make for a very informative and exciting evening!  I will let you know how it goes!  We’re using the text from our instruction booklets as our first screen: “Go ahead and create something excepetional.”  I think that should be fitting for all of us!

Go Ahead and Create


If you had a screen printing set up, what would you be itching to print?  If you already know how to screen print, do you have any tips for getting started?