Monday, October 17, 2016

Thermofax Screen Printing - Repeat Printing Part 3

It's time to set up for printing. I guess we've been doing that all along, haven't we? Here are the next steps in my process:

I flip my Thermofax screen so the bottom is face up and measure the design width. I am only measuring where the design starts on the left side and over to the design edge on the right side. Once I have that measurement I then figure out about how much space is between the individual elements of the design. I measure that space and add it to my first measurement. In my example, the actual design width was right about 6 1/8" and the space between each of the elements in the design was about 1/4"...for a total of 6 3/8" wide. 

Next I place the screen onto the printing surface right against the tape line on the right end. I nudge the frame around until it looks like the design is aligned well all along that right hand side.

Once the frame is in a position I like, I use a marking pen to place a line right along the edge of the frame on the other tape line.  I'll refer to this tape line as the horizontal tape. Disregard the black marker you see on the frame itself, that was there from another project.

Place your fabric on the table (no need to unroll it all) just to determine where it sits when aligned along the horizontal tape line. Then place a second horizontal tape line above the fabric, parallel with the first horizontal tape line (in the following photo it is the tape line on the left running from the bottom of the photo to the top). Place this second horizontal tape line so that it is above the fabric but lies underneath the Thermofax screen frame when printing.

Place your frame back on the printing surface and align it with the first mark you made on the bottom horizontal tape line. Make another alignment mark on the top horizontal tape line. These two marks are your alignment marks for the first print.

Now remember the measurement we came up with in the beginning of this post, 6 3/8"? We will now mark that repeat measurement across the horizontal tape lines. First measure and mark the bottom tape, and then do the same for the top tape, measuring all the way down to the end of the printing surface until you can't measure out another full repeat.

Please keep in mind that this method is not perfect and sometimes our measurements may be off fractions of an inch across the printing surface, but we also need to remember that this is hand printing and if we wanted "perfect" we would just go out and buy commercial fabric. Hand printing provides charm and interest to your fabric. And if you use the fabric in a quilt, where it will be cut up into smaller pieces, those small pieces don't really show off any of the areas where you were just a tiny bit off with your printing placement.

Once you have all your repeat markings on the top and bottom horizontal tapes, then pull out your fabric across the entire printing surface and align it with the bottom horizontal tape. Flatten and press the fabric so it is laying flat and straight. Smooth out any bumps or wrinkles.

Using pins, randomly pin along the top and bottom edges of the fabric all the way down the printing surface. This helps keep the fabric laying flat when you lift off the screen during the printing process.

Now place your frame back in the beginning position on the printing surface, making sure to align the left edge of the frame with your tape marks.  Position the screen design so it is centered, top to bottom, on the fabric, remembering to double check the alignment along the left edge of the frame at the same time. Try for an equal margin on top and bottom.

Once you like the position of the design on the fabric, place a small piece of tape on the frame as shown in the next photo. This tape is the same tape used in the horizontal tape line and it is another guide to alignment while printing.

Coming up in Part 4 (the final post) of Thermofax Screen Printing - Repeat Printing, we will actually be printing our fabric. Yay!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thermofax Screen Printing - Repeat Printing Part 2

In this post I am going to share how I prepare the fabric for repeat printing. I use either hand dyed fabrics or commercial solid fabric and they are quilting weight cottons.

When using commercial fabrics off the bolt, you need to prewash the fabric so that any sizing or finishes on the fabric surface are removed before adding your printed design. With hand dyed fabric there is no need to prewash since the fabric has already gone through a washing when you dyed it.

Once your fabric is washed and dry, decide how much yardage you want to print with your Thermofax screen design. In my example I am going to print one yard of the hand dyed fabric that is shown on the right, in the photo above.

Next I will sub cut my one yard piece of fabric to accommodate the size of my printed design. But before I cut into my fabric, I need to measure the height of my design.  I place the screen image that I prepared in Part 1 of this series so that the bottom or flat side of the screen is face up. With a ruler, measure the image from top to bottom. My image measures 7 3/4". To this measurement I add one inch so that I have some wiggle room on each side of the design. So my measurement comes to 8 3/4" and this is how wide I will cut pieces from my one yard piece of fabric.

You can cut your fabric or tear your fabric. I like to tear it along the lengthwise grain, so I measure 8 3/4" from the selvage edge and make a small cut and then tear. In the photo below, you can see my one yard piece of fabric sub cut into 8 3/4" widths. My selvages are on the right and left side in the photo. I ended up with a small strip around 4" and I will just store that until I find a project to use it in. You can also use this strip to test printing ink colors.

Typically when I screen print with my large silk screens, I am preparing more fabric than a one yard piece. I usually work in lengths of 7.5 yards and sub cuts of 18" to 21". 

Next I baste my fabrics together on the short ends so that I have a continuous feed of fabric as I'm printing. 

Using the longest straight stitch on my sewing machine, I stitch the ends together on the four pieces of fabric so they will be one long piece when printing.

I like to roll my fabric onto a cardboard tube and to do that I tape one end of the fabric to the tube with painter's tape. I have the fabric spread out in front of the tube on my ironing surface and I iron and roll the fabric all at this time.

I iron as much fabric as I can reach, then roll that amount onto the tube, and repeat until all the fabric is rolled up.

I don't worry if the fabric rolls a bit unevenly onto the tube, as I have found this really doesn't affect anything. If you don't have a cardboard tube, you can pool your fabric into a box or laundry basket and feed it out of that when printing. Ideally the cardboard tube should be a few inches wider than the width of your fabric.

You may be wondering why I sub cut the yard of fabric instead of just printing on it as one whole piece. I have tried repeat printing on fabric yardage that was not sub cut and I found the process to be much more complex and time consuming (mostly during the actual printing time). I find that the method I use today (sub cutting the fabric) is much more enjoyable and I don't usually need fabric pieces that are larger than this for the sewing projects I typically do. Also, sometimes I am screen printing with large silk screens so my fabric is usually around 18" to 21" wide by 7.5 yards long. So I am able to get some larger fabric pieces if I need them. I find that repeat printing with Thermofax screens offers me more design options on a smaller scale.

Our fabric is now ready to print on. Up next in this series I will talk about setting up to print.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Thermofax Screen Printing - Repeat Printing Part 1

Hi everyone! I’m Terri Stegmiller and for the month of October I am going to share how I repeat print with Thermofax screens. In today’s post I will share how I prepare my screens and work surface.

When I first thought about printing in repeat to create some fabric yardage, I researched, searching the Internet, and found very little information on the process. There are definitely people who are doing this, but as far as tutorials go, not much to be found. What I did find, I soaked up and filled in the blanks with my own idea of how it was done. The process I started with is definitely not the exact process I use today, but with most techniques we tend to tweak them as needed to perfect them for our needs and surroundings.

The process I’m going to share in my October posts is one I use with both Thermofax screens and larger silk screens. While these two types of screens are used in the same manner they are created differently. My focus here will be on Thermofax screens. There are online sources where you can get your images made into custom Thermofax screens. One source is You will find some Etsy sellers that offer this service.

My Thermofax machine

To create a Thermofax screen, I start with a doodle or drawing that I have scanned into my computer. Using Photoshop, I edit the image by creating a high contrast black and white image, size it to the dimensions I desire, and create a repeating pattern. I typically create what I call a straight repeating pattern or an offset repeating pattern and you can see examples of each of those below.

When you have your Thermofax screen made, it typically comes with a taped edge to aid in the use of the screen. You can use it like this with repeat printing, but I prefer to adhere it to a wood frame. I find that the wood frame provides a more stability for setting up and maintaining the repeat across the fabric.

Be sure to use a frame that is about the same size or larger than the taped screen. I like to use temporary tape, such as painter’s tape, to adhere the screen to the frame so that I can remove the screen and use the frame with other screens.

When taping the Thermofax screen to the wood frame, try to align it so that the edges of the design are perfectly parallel with the wood frame edge. This will help you achieve a more successful repeat. I like to use the grid lines on my cutting mat to aid in this alignment.

When taping the screen to the frame, be sure to tape around all edges on the bottom side so that no printing ink/paint can seep through and mark your fabric.

After you have taped your screen to the frame, you will need to prepare your work surface. I like to use a table that is 6 feet or longer. The tables I’m using are ones that fold in half for storage so they don’t take up so much space when not in use. A smaller table can work too, or you can push two smaller tables together to create a longer table. In my demonstration photos, I am working in my studio space inside my house and I have two tables pushed together where I am working.

On top of my table, I use a printing pad created from a sheet of foam insulation that I bought at my local home improvement store. These sheets typically are around 6 ft. by 8 ft. in size but you can easily cut them to the size you need with a box cutting blade or craft knife. I like the foam sheets that are thick, about 1” or more, because I pin into them and I don’t like when the pin goes all the way through the sheet and hits the table. I need the pins to be flush with the printing pad surface.

After cutting the foam sheet to size, I cover it with batting and then a layer of fabric. I usually use a layer of cotton duck cloth because it is very durable, but you can use inexpensive muslin if you prefer. I adhere the batting and fabric layers to the foam sheet by wrapping them around to the back of the board and taping with duck tape.

The next thing I do to prepare my printing surface is to add tape lines, using painter's tape. You can see in the photo below how these are placed on the printing pad. I use a long metal ruler to help align the tape so it is as straight as possible.

The tape line across the end (near the bottom of the photo above) can be placed on the right end or the left end of the printing pad. It just depends on the direction you prefer to work. I like my fabric to feed from the left, so I place the tape on the right end. This is an alignment aid which will make more sense when explained in a later post.

Coming up in Part 2 of Repeat Printing with Thermofax Screens - fabric preparation

Saturday, October 1, 2016

And the Winner is. . . .

Thanks to everyone for your great comments!

There were 110 comments on the four posts and I used a random number generator to chose the winner

Surprisingly, it chose the last commenter!
SO, the winner of the FOUR Sun Printed Fat Quarters, 
TWO yards of Mistyfuse, and ONE Mini Goddess Sheet is:


I sent an email to you Vicki.
Please email me with your mailing address and I will get these prizes out to you right away!

October's Queen Bee is Terri Stegmiller

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Boro Sun Prints

Now that you have made (or are wanting to make) all these awesome Sun and SunLESS printed fabrics, you need something to make with them.  

My daughter had a great pair of ripped jeans that were just begging to be even greater.  
Not to mention the rips were getting a bit too big.

Out came the Sun Printed fabric, Mistyfuse, thread and needle, and a new pair of pants were born.
The thread pictured is a Sashiko thread I had on hand, but I also used a pearle cotton thread.

First I fused Mistyfuse to the back of each piece of Sun Printed fabric, and then carefully cut and arranged patches in an artful manner to cover the holes in the jeans.  Once the patches satisfied their owner, they were ironed and fused to the pants, allowing enough overlap to cover the holes completely.

The most important part of the project was the needle.  
Hand stitching through denim and fabric can be rough unless you have a good needle.

I started with an old needle I had on hand because it was handy, and it had a large eye.  This was a big mistake.  The needle was difficult to pull through and eventually I broke it.

Fortunately I remembered some Richard Hemming Embroidery Needles I purchased from ArtFabrik.  Once I gave this needle a go, it was all smooth sailing!  The eye was bigger and easier to thread than I thought it would be and it glided in and out of the fabric beautifully.

The large stitching was relaxing and very therapeutic.  
I found myself looking forward to the time I spent finishing these jeans.

My daughter loves them and I'm thinking I need another project like this!
One of my favorite Sun Printed fabric projects is this art quilt:

What will you use your Sun Printed Fabric for?

Leave a comment on this post for one last chance to win these FOUR Sun Printed Fat Quarters, TWO yards of Mistyfuse and ONE Mini Goddess Sheet.  The winner of the giveaway will be announced on September 30th.  Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Advanced Sun Printing

Have you used one of the methods in the previous two posts yet to create some Sun Printed or Sun Less Printed Fabrics?  I hope so!

Today's post will use take the Sun Printed fabric one step further.
The fabrics created with Sun Printed are beautiful in and of themselves but they can be so much more when you layer them.  
The paints used in Sun Printing are transparent and lend themselves well to layering.  (Note: Pebeo's Setacolor has been renamed "light" instead of "transparent" as pictured above.)  

It is amazing the depth which can be achieved with two and three layers of paint.  To create a layered effect, start by creating your first layer as described in this post. 

One of the biggest tricks to creating a beautiful second and third layer 
is to remember basic color theory:
  Blue + Red = Purple
Blue + Yellow = Green
Red + Yellow = Orange
And don't forget that
Purple + Yellow = Brown
Green + Red = Brown
Orange + Blue = Brown

Brown is a beautiful color!  
Especially when you can see layers of the colors it was created from.
Here are just a couple examples of the beauty you can create with layer Sun Prints:
First layer: Blue
Second Layer: Fuchsia
Don't be afraid to cover the entire piece with the Fuchsia!
The fabric has three colors despite only using two colors of paint.

And this piece was given an additional layer of blue.
The masks used on these pieces were cut from plastic transparency sheets as well as natural leaves from a tree.

The second example is a piece where Brown is especially beautiful.
First Layer: Blue
Second Layer: Orange
Third Layer: black

This is one of my favorite Sun Printed fabrics.

What colors will you combine?
What shapes will you create in your Sun Printed fabrics?
Leave a comment for another chance at winning these FOUR Sun Printed Fat Quarters, TWO yards of Mistyfuse and a Mini Goddess Sheet.  (I just started singing the 12 days of Christmas there, sorry about the ear worm!)

Next week's post on September 27th will show you a fun project to create with your Sun Printed fabrics.