Can you Screen Print on Denim? (Ultimate Guide 2024)

Regarding fashion and apparel, most people discard their denim shirts and pants with other clothes.

They are causing a waste of resources and energy, which could be used to manufacture the second piece.

Instead of throwing denim products, you can make them bolder, wearable, and decent. Here comes screen printing; Screen printing adds value and decency to denim products using sensitive emulsions with unique designs.

In the following lines, we will discuss the complete process of screen printing on denim.

Required Things for Screen Printing

Before printing on denim shirts, ensure you have arranged all the following supplies to enjoy better results.

  • Printing screen
  • Light-colored garment to print on
  • Small piece of cardboard
  • Squeegee tool
  • Silk-screen fabric ink
  • Acetate
  • Gloves
  • Clear tape
  • Brown parcel tape
  • Coating trough
  • Light-sensitive photo emulsion
  • Lamp (250-Watt bulb)
  • Laser jet printer

Now, check the following step-by-step process of screen printing on denim fabrics.

Read Article: Can You Screen Print on Polyester?

Screen Printing on Denim Fabrics

The process of printing on denim garments is the same as on t-shirts.

But you have to focus more on the collars and pockets so that the design becomes permanent.

Step-1: Prepare the Design

Select your desired design or prepare the one on your computer using Photoshop or paint. With online software, you can have more elegant and intricate shapes using Canva.

When the image is ready, print it out using a laser printer. Keep the image’s background solid so the design can be differentiated from the design.

Step-2: Prepare the screen

First, put your gloves on and place the screen against a wall in an upright position. Hold the trough at a 45° angle and place it over the mesh until the emulsion touches the mesh.  

Now, change the position of the mesh to 90° and gently glide the trough. The excess emulsion will drain out in the emulsion collector.

Pro Tip: Keep the coating of emulsion even to have the best results

Step-3: Drying the Mesh Under the Shade

After coating the screen or mesh, move it to some dark space or place it under shadow for drying.

Don’t expose it to sunlight; otherwise, the emulsion will not work in future steps due to the hardening effect.

Step-4: Expose to Recommended Light

Primarily all the emulsion manufacturers instruct exposing the screen to light for a specific time.

The time can be 2.5 to 9 minutes usually. But check the printing mesh is dried before starting the next step.

Now, place the image on the screen and fix the edged with tape.

Arrange a light of 200 Watts and hang it over the mesh at about a one-foot distance. Start your stopwatch, adjust the recommended time, and turn off all other lights.

When the time is up, remove the image quickly and clean the screen from the emulsion.

Step-5: Clean up the Mesh

After picking up the image, take the screen to the washing point and keep washing it until clean water starts passing through it.

Now, leave the screen-printing mesh under sunlight to dry out.

Step-6: Its Printing Time

Now, arrange a piece of cardboard and place it under the denim fabric where you want the design.

Make sure the denim clothes do no wrinkles.

Then, place the stencil on the fabric and take your squeegee. Pour the ink on the screen and gently move the squeegee back and forth.

After the ink is evenly available in the required place, take out the squeegee and dry the garment.

Step – 7: Fixing the Screen Prints

When the screen print’s upper surface is dry, place baking paper over it. Switch on the iron, place it over baking paper for about 2 minutes, and apply medium pressure.

Due to this heating effect, the print will become the permanent part of the denim fabric.

Now, wash out the denim shirt and show off in front of your friends and family. 

More Tips for Screen Printing on denim Garments

  • Screen printing on a t-shirt and denim fabrics is the same, but you have to focus more on denim shirts and jeans pockets. Keep the pocket areas even; otherwise, the ink will bleed out.
  • Use a small squeegee in case of seam areas; the larger one will leave unprinted such areas.
  • When the fabric ink is not under working in the last few days, it is better to heat it so that it can permanently bond with the denim fabrics. 

Final Thoughts

Screen printing on denim is just similar to other shirts. It adds value and vibrance to old clothes as well. Denim is dark, so the best color for the design would be white or yellow.

If you screen print on denim without considering the contrast, resources and energy will be wasted.

To enjoy the bold colors and designs of denim, you can follow the above-discussed step-by-step method.

Read more: How to Remove Screen Printing from Clothes [05 Effective Ways]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What fabric is not suitable for screen printing?

Faux fur and novelty fabrics are tricky to screen print. These fabrics require special inks to perform screen printing.

What type of printing should be done on denim?

Flock printing, varak printing, and discharge printing are the best methods to print over jeans.

Can you screen print on Nike Dri Fit?

Nike Dri Fit can be screen printed. Also, sometimes HTV and Sublimation printing are employed.

How do you transfer a picture to denim?

Start heating the iron to press the image. Place the image on the denim where design is required. Place a piece of paper over the image and press it with a hot iron until the image is transferred to denim.

Can you screen print on 100% polyester?

Yes, of course.
Most of the time, pure cotton fabrics or blends are used for screen printing. If you own a material made of 100% polyester, you can have a screen print if unique kinds of ink are used.

DIY screen printed image pants!

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