Thursday, December 8, 2011

T-shirts for the family- Simply Screen Kit Review

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Look at that awesome tiger shirt! It’s the bomb.com, right?
I was super lucky and got chosen to review a custom silk screening kit from Plaid. The Simply Screen Kit from Plaid allows you to create your own silk screen designs and customize things like cards, t-shirts, pillows, and more, while you’re at home. The kit is sold in stores at Hobby Lobby, and is only $39.99.  Inside the kit you get 3 paint pins, 3 custom silk screens of various sizes and a test strip, a sponge, a 100 watt light bulb and cord to create the light box to expose your screens, a plastic squeegee, and a plastic basin to wash your screens when it is time to reveal your design.  And the great thing about the kit is that you only have to buy it once, because Plaid sells custom Silk Screen Kit Refill packs for $19.99 (inside the refill pack you have 3 screens of various sizes and a test strip).
The Simply Screen Kit comes neatly packaged inside this pyramid shaped box. The box is actually part of the kit, and you must not throw it away or tear it apart. Very important to remember that, okay?
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You can buy the Re-fill packs and Silk Screen paints separately.
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There are very detailed instructions inside the kit, and it is best to read them over before starting.
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The Silk Screens are light sensitive so they come inside this black plastic bag, and it’s important to only take them out when needed and keep the remaining screens inside the bag when you’re not using them. On the bag it will even tell you to replace any unused screens IMMEDIATELY and reseal the bag.
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The top of the box is where you will insert the light to expose your screens.
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Before you start your project it is important that you are in a dimly lit room. You do not want any direct sunlight coming in. I did mine at night and turned out most of the lights around me and just left a small lamp on not too far away.
You can print off an image from your computer, or draw one using a black permanent marker. (Plaid even sells ready made screens with designs on them for $9.99 each.)  I found an image on my computer that I wanted to try out and printed it off in the size I wanted it.
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Plaid says to use 10 lb. paper, but I only had 20 lb. at home and couldn’t find the 10 lb. in some of the stores I had gone to. I decided to darken some of the areas on my printed image with a permanent marker, hoping the screen would come out really detailed.
Each silk screen has a white backing on it that you remove when you are ready to use it. You lay your image, artwork side down onto the silk screen where you just removed the backing from. The directions say to tape your artwork to the screen and place it inside your light box.
You don’t want any of the corners peeling up during the exposing process so it is best if you tape all of the sides of your artwork to your screen and tape your screen down onto the bottom of the box as well. Plaid also has suggested using a piece of clear glass to lay on top of your screen and artwork after placing it inside the light box, to make sure that both are completely flat.  The reason you want them both flat, is because you don’t want any light to seep underneath the image or screen. (I took a piece of glass from a picture frame and put it back when I was done.)
Once you put your screen and image inside your light box you can turn on the light and allow it to expose for 25 minutes. The timing is very important also. Plaid gives firm instructions that you do not want to expose your screen any longer than the 25 minutes because it can cause your silk screen to harden and it will be much harder to wash away the screen’s emulsions when you need to. (One blogger did have really good success only allowing her screen to expose for 20 minutes instead of the 25.) **And this is why it is good to use the TEST STRIPS! You can figure out exactly what amount of time works best for you.**
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After the 25 minutes are up, you can turn off the light to the light box, take out your screen and artwork and get it ready to wash off. You will need to rub and rinse off your screen’s emulsions using the plastic basin that came inside the Simply Screen Kit, and tepid/warm water.
Once you’ve rubbed off all of the emulsions on your screen you will be able to see your awesome design. Let your screen dry flat before using it.
When my screen was dry, I place it on the shirt I was making for my son, and taped the screen down all the way around it to make it more secure. I used painters tape, and that seemed to work well. I also placed a cutting board in between the front and the back of the shirt to make sure no paint would seep through. You could used cardboard or whatever is available to you.
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You will take your screen printing paint, and squeeze out a pretty thick/generous line across your design.
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Then take your squeegee, and bring down your line of paint across your screen. (I didn’t take a picture of this particular screen when I was doing the paint, but it should look like the one below)
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After covering your whole screen with paint you should immediately remove it.
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I let my shirt dry for 24 hours like the instructions recommend, and then I heat set the paint using my iron. Once you heat set it you can use it right away. (Plaid suggest to hand wash it for the first time, a minimum of 72 hours after heat setting the paint.)
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My son was over the moon about his tiger shirt. And my husband thought it was awesome enough to have one made for himself too!
I made a few more things using my Silk Screen Kit and can say that after some trial and error I think it’s pretty cool to use. I love that you can reuse the screens multiple times to create gifts, or do multiple shirts for your family. And I like the fact that you can create your own designs with their blank screens.
I would definitely recommend using the test screens to practice with. Reading the instructions fully and more than once, and trying the kit out when you have some free time, because it does take a little while to use. Plus once you get it down, you want to play around with it and create more things. I was scouring our house for all kinds of blank “canvases” so that I could screen print them!
One of the downsides I did face, is that when using the white paint on darker colored shirts it was almost like the white soaked into the shirt and the design just became a lighter color of the shirt.
This is what it looked like right after I painted it:
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Nice and bright. But 10 minutes later, the paint soaked in and my design looked pink.
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I still like the design, so I might try to go over it with the screen and paint again. Or, I might not, since my son doesn’t seem to care. :)
Here are my two littles showing off the shirts. (Both shirts are for my son, but I let my daughter model the tape one for fun.)
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Just excuse the crazy hair and chocolate on her face. You didn’t see that, okay?!
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I also attempted my second sewing adventure and made this pillow, silk screening the words Joyeux Noel on it.
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Don’t judge my crooked lines please! Beginner sewer here. It just goes to show you though that you can create all kind of awesomeness with the screen kit, or give it as a Christmas gift to your favorite crafter this year. They’d love it.

Disclosure: I recieved the Simply Screen Kit from Plaid and other related products to review. My tutorial and opinions written were completely honest and my own.

Here are some more amazing projects done by some of my crafty blogging friends! I hope you have fun checking them out.

8 comments:

Steph said...

YAY! It turned out great, Jennifer! I love the designs you used. Great tutorial!

Bromeliad said...

Great job. You did some pretty detailed images.

Jen @ tatertotsandjello.com said...

Fun projects!! Your kids are so cute too!! And love the pillow :)

xoxoxo
Jen

Colleen @ MuralMaker&More said...

I love the tiger! Sorry it took me so long to visit :/ Crazy this time of year. But you got a wonderful screen!

I found the same thing about white on dark. That was my first test. Ok, but not great. And I was looking all over too for something to screen! I've asked for another refill pack (in exchange for a video :p). Then I'm off to do a pillow! (with glue, not sewing, ha!)

pebby said...

I have this screen set too! The first one I did turned out wonderful. But it seems from there, I have wasted more blue sheets than ones that turned out well & this SUCKS because they are expensive! Does the kind of printer you use have an affect on how well they turn out? A lot of my blue sheets end up only having parts of my image on it. I use the glass on top, and I leave it in for at least 25 minutes. Still, I have had poor luck with this. HELP!

kids jerseys said...

Love everything about this post

Anonymous said...

Pebby- try using LESS time under the light. I find that 2-3 minutes less than recommended actually works better. The solution washes right off.

Jennifer said...

Really love this!! Its so gorgeous. Screen print t shirts are very popular and i want to make this type of t shirt for my cute angel. I definitely recommend http://www.apparelnbags.com/custom-screen-printing.aspx