Hoop Printing: Introduction
Hoop Printing is designed as an introduction to screen printing. This technique requires only a few tools and endless creative possibilities.
This is the perfect hobby for the crafter who wants to print their own designs on t-shirts, tote bags, fabric, wall art, paper, cards, and more. This is a great way to make your own bachelorette party bags or business "thank you" cards. The possibilities are truly endless and I hope you enjoy the process as much as I do.
Option 1: Craft Knife
Option 2: Cutting Machine (i.e. Cricut)
For this tutorial we used our 10" hoop, 6" squeegee. Prior to printing, ensure your design fits within your print space, factoring in hoop size and squeegee width, and that your squeegee passes over the entire design evenly.
Prepare Your Mesh:
Cut design from heat transfer vinyl by hand or use cutting machine. Do Not Mirror. Cut on the vinyl side (non-liner/non-shiny side).
Cutting by hand:
I enjoy cutting by hand because it is a bit more involved. It’s important to slow down and appreciate the craft; cutting by hand definitely allows you to enjoy the process. To cut by hand, print your design on computer paper and tape it to the vinyl side, then cut it out by tracing with craft knife. Or you can draw your design directly onto the vinyl side (make sure to wipe off excess ink so it doesn’t bleed onto project when printing). When cutting by hand, cut from inside of design first and work your way out so you don’t cut part of the design off. It is also important to cut your finer details first and larger elements towards the end. Weed as you go especially for more intricate designs. Ensure you are cutting through the paper (if using as a stencil) and the vinyl. It is alright if you cut through the liner as well. Cutting by hand takes more time, but it is a very therapeutic process. You will receive a rougher, handmade look to your print.
Cutting by machine:
If you have a cutting machine such as a Cricut or Silhouette feel free to send your design to your cutting machine for a quicker cut.
Cut a square of mesh 4" larger than your hoop (i.e. 10" hoop = 14" square of mesh).
Review HTV instructions for ironing onto Polyester. What works for me: set iron between Cotton & Wool; No Steam. Use a Teflon sheet on both sides to protect iron and surface. While moving iron, with medium pressure, iron for 10 seconds and check to make sure adhesive isn't seeping into design. (This will block the mesh and prevent ink from passing through. This will happen if the temperature is too high or not moving iron.) Iron about 3-4 times checking every 10 seconds. Flip over and iron for 10 seconds on opposite side. Continue until vinyl has adhered to mesh.
Once cool to touch, remove the shiny liner. This is now your vinyl side. The reverse side will now be referred to as the ink side.
Place mesh on top of outer hoop vinyl side down.
Place inner hoop inside and tighten 90%. Working in a circle, pull mesh edges a few times then tighten the hoop. Continue until screw is completely tightened and the mesh is taut like a drum. Make sure your mesh is even and there are no areas that seem looser than others. If there is a part of your mesh that isn't very tight, just loosen your screw and pull that section tighter. Be careful not to distort your design as you place the mesh in your hoop.
Cover exposed mesh surrounding the vinyl with painter’s tape to prevent unwanted ink transferring onto substrate on both the vinyl and ink sides.
With vinyl side down, add a line of ink to the top of the ink side.
If you don’t have enough ink nothing will push through to your substrate and you will have a dry spot in your print. If there is too much ink it may bleed.
Practice on a scrap substrate to get the ink amount, pressure, and number of pulls correct. It is best to practice on a material that is the same as your final substrate.
Pull with one hand and hold the hoop in place with the other. If your practice pieces determine you need to pull more than once try not to move the hoop as you reset the squeegee to pull again. If your hoop lifts up it may smudge or create a double image as you print again.
Make sure you are printing on a hard, flat surface. If printing on a bag or tshirt, place a piece of thick, smooth chipboard inside where the design will be printed. Make sure any gusset is on the back side under the chipboard.
Pull with even pressure at about a 45 degree angle. If printing on paper or your fabric is thin and smooth you may only need one pull with lighter pressure. If it is more textured and heavier, like canvas, you may need two pulls for full coverage. This all should be determined in your practice run on a scrap piece.
Determining the best pressure is key during your practice runs as pushing too hard will cause your image to bleed and pushing too light will cause dry spots. Take a deep breath and find that perfect middle ground. Practice makes consistency.
If unwanted ink is being deposited onto your substrate check the vinyl side of your mesh. Is ink bleeding? Wipe, add more tape, retighten mesh in hoop. Is there a hole in your vinyl? Cover with painter's tape. Is there exposed mesh between your vinyl and painter's tape? Add more tape.
Now you are ready to print your final project!! Place your hoop over your substrate and make your final print.
When finished printing, use your squeegee to clean excess ink off mesh.
Remove tape, save and reuse if possible.
Remove mesh from hoop and rinse excess ink in sink.
Wipe or rinse any ink off the hoop.
Let mesh dry and reuse again and again.
There you have it! Hoop Printing - a super simple alternative to screen printing!