Sunday, September 19, 2010

Screen printing: team shirts

I play a sport called Ultimate Disc (aka that game with a frisbee). I won't talk about that here, however we had a 2 day tournament and being the 'creative' type, I was chosen (well ok, volunteered and took over) to organise the player shirts.

Team Barrel of Monkeys 2010

Sublimating, iron-on transferring and professional printing were all talked about but in the end, hand screen printing seemed the obvious choice, as while it's a bit time consuming, it's relatively cheap (if you can borrow a screen) and a good excuse to have a team bonding party and drink a few beers!

For those who might like to do something similar, here are a few things to consider, and a few things I learnt along the way. Firstly, here's what I needed to prepare:

16 cotton T-shirts
16 pieces of cardboard

Design printed out several times
Exacto knives

1 screen + squeegie (thanks Peta’s sister)
1 roll of screen tape
Ink (used blue, red and orange)

Hairdryer for drying prints in between colours
Sponge for screen cleaning
Plastic spoons for ink
Scrap fabric for test printing

Printing Logistics:

So it was a bit like a production line. We had 3 colours to print on the front, so we cut out all of the stencils, then printed them one at a time in this order:

The blue barrel
1.   Tape paper stencil to screen
2.   Test print onto calico
3.   Print all 16 shirts
4.   Wash screen immediately (take off stencil-throw away)
5.   Dry prints with hairdryer
6.   Stand back and admire work while sipping beer

The orange text
1.  Tape paper stencil to screen
2.  Test print onto calico
3.  Print all 16 shirts (trying to place the orange text in the barrel without overlapping)
4.  Wash screen immediately (take off stencil-throw away)
5.  Dry prints with hairdryer
6.  Stand back and admire work while sipping beer

The red monkeys
1.  Tape paper stencil to screen
2.  Test print onto calico
3.  Print all 16 shirts (a bit of overlapping with the barrel didn't matter)
4.  Wash screen immediately (take off stencil-throw away)
5.  Dry prints with hairdryer
6.  Sit down (sore back) while admiring work and sipping warmed beer

Lesson 1: Screen printing and shirts
Cotton is the way to go using this technique. I helped out with shirts once before - they were made out of that synthetic-sporto fabric (not a technical term)...needless to say it didn't quite work as expected - the ink didn't get taken up by the fabric and it basically looked pretty scrappy.

I ordered T-shirts from a company in Australia called Blank Clothing. They delivered very quickly and were fairly well priced and gave you discounts if you ordered multiples of one size (so good for teams). The shirt style I ordered was a little on the thin side (ie. you could see through a bit)...good to remember for next time - we wanted white so the girls needed to be sure they had their best sports bras on!

** to print on T-shirts you will need pieces of cardboard or layers of newspaper to put inside the shirt so the ink doesn't go through to the back.

Lesson 2: Ink
Don't wait until the morning of the day you are supposed to print to buy ink...of course all the colours I wanted were not in stock - so I had to buy another brand of textile ink (I prefer to use water soluble Permaset - but the Derivan was great, just more expensive for slightly less ink). If you are printing onto dark coloured shirts – you will need a special white ink (super cover) that stays on the surface more (otherwise your print will disappear into the dark fabric).

**250mls of ink (one 250ml pot) was more than enough for 16 shirts (this depends on the size and ink surface of your print though.

Lesson 3: The Design
My lovely friend Peta had a vision for our team (called Barrel of know, like the game) and found the image she wanted for the shirts.

Then our other lovely friend, Dan, did some computer be-dazzling and made it more 'stencil friendly' (ie, blockier, as we were going to be cutting out using an exacto knife). I also did a bit of creative cutting on the day for the barrel.

Of course there are many ways to get an imagine ready for screen printing - but printing out on printer paper and cutting it out was the easiest and cheapest method for a ‘one off’ set of shirts.

I did think of using contact, but the design was quite fiddly, and the thought of peeling contact off and trying to stick it back onto the screen again made me think there was too much that could go wrong. You could also go to the trouble and expense of getting permanent screen image done if you were going to reuse later on down the track.

Lesson 4: The Stencils
Wanting a three colour print takes a bit more planning! This means you need to cut three different stencils and print three times (washing the screen and drying the print between each colour). This is easily achieved by having a group of friend’s help, some beer, cake (thanks Peta), music and lots of laughter.

Left (barrel stencil); middle (text stencil); right (monkeys stencil)
Lesson 5: The Printing
Once you start, you need to get it done before the ink dries on the screen - and with 16 shirts - it meant working fairly quickly (lucky it is winter here and was a rainy sort of day).  We placed all the shirts on the floor at our mate's (Bron) house (each with a piece of cardboard in the shirt).

Our captain Peta helping out
**I used a piece of calico to test print each stencil before moving onto print the shirts - and I didn't move to the shirts until I was happy with my print technique (2-3 passes of the squeegie followed by a dry pass to clear the ink through the screen), amount of ink, number of passes etc. I probably should have used an old T-shirt, as doing a test print onto a similar fabric is better – but I figured it would be ok.

Happy monkeys Emma and Isaac (yes we made a baby one too).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Late night emails that delight!

Hi Chicky!

Last Saturday I was going to campos coffee to get myself a decaf coffee in newtown! And just outside the cafe there was a knitted pole that caught my eye! I know you would appreciate the photo and it was executed by some Guerrilla knitter group! They knit things for the urban environment. I'm sure you have heard of them! With all the cold weather in Sydney at least the pole won't get too cold!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Button Beanie Bloopers

Think back to around December 2008 - can you remember what you were doing? I was in Philadelphia (US), starting this cute beanie (ie woolen hat) from a Blue Sky Alpacas pattern.

It's the use of buttons that attracted me to it, as I had bought the perfect ones about three years prior in a London wool shop called Loop. Interestingly, I bought this pattern from a Philadelphian wool store, also called Loop (no relation - but perhaps they could call each other sister stores?).

Anyhoo - I had started knitting this beanie, and then packed it away and came across it the other day (don't judge me - I know you all have sneaky hidden unfinished projects!). I kind of followed the pattern, it seriously took me half an hour just to work out where I was up to after two years! Then I ended up with this HOW? That's not how it looks on the pattern cover! It's not that it looks bad - it's just not what I envisaged (or wanted).

Crap! What to do now?

Well, unravelling some seemed like a good idea at the time. Then the thought of trying to thread back onto circular needles, or a set of double points, almost made me cry.

So I basically just threaded a big needle, and threaded the yarn back through all the stitches and tied it all together. Dodgy? You bet, it's not knitting perfection, but it worked!

I'm half thinking about undoing it all and re-knitting it a bit smaller and finishing it off properly - maybe in two years.

Comments on the pattern: It's aimed at an 'advanced beginner' which is about right - you get to use circular needles, learn how to knit a button hole, decreasing stitches and the rest is just rib stitching and stocking stitch. The one thing I wish they had done is give sizing options - as it's only given the number of stitches for one size of hat (medium) - it's a bit too big for me so a small option would have been better to start with.

PS - the olive coloured yarn is from Blue Sky Alpacas and the buttons are olivewood - so cute - and you can still get them here!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Suitcase Rummage

Winter in Brisbane has begun - and so have the markets! They seem to be multiplying like rabbits as there must be at least two every weekend for the next few months. Today I took myself off to the Suitcase Rummage in King George Square. As I'm making a city relocation this year I've decided to purge my life, so today I was offloading books and some much loved (but no longer worn) clothes.

I really wanted to tackle this woman for her great hat!
This market is a perfect blend of vintage, general second hand, quirky finds and grass roots indie designers, with everything being sold from a suitcase. There was even Edith Piaf being piped to give people the ambiance of fossicking through a french flea market.

My best find today wasn't a 'thing' but a person! Kimberley Jane Robinson is a visual design graduate who started her own small business (Kijaro) specialising in invitations. What captured my crafter's eye though was Kim's fantastic collection of carded vintage buttons, neatly packaged patterns and bundles of fabric. She professes to liking old stuff, collects purses and clearly has a good design eye. Catch her vintage haberdashery and stylish invitations and cards at the next Suitcase Rummage (July 4th)!