Monday, October 31, 2016

And We Have a Winner!

First of all, thank you so much for all your comments. I enjoyed creating the series of posts on repeat printing with Thermofax screens.

Today I have randomly chosen a winner for the giveaway prize. The winner was chosen from all the comments left on all four posts on repeat printing.

The random number generator gave me #23 as the winning comment and that comment belongs to Candace Edgerley. Candace's winning comment was left on Part 1 of the series. Congratulations!

Candace, you will get a fat quarter bundle of my screen printed fabrics and also your choice of two Thermofax screens from my Etsy shop ( .

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Thermofax Screen Printing - Repeat Printing Part 4

Are you ready to print? Let's go!  You will need the following supplies:

  • Hair dryer
  • Textile Screen Printing Ink
  • Craft stick or plastic spoon, to spread ink onto the screen
  • Squeegee or plastic spreader, ideally you want to use a size that is slightly larger than the image size.
  • Fine mist spray water bottle
Before you start here is a check list of things to prepare:
  • Have a basket or box at the end of the table to pool your printed fabric into.
  • Get your hair dryer plugged in and make sure you can reach all areas of the fabric. You may need to use an extension cord.
  • Have a small side table set up for a place to put your screen when it is not in use and also for the ink and squeegee. It's handy to have some wet wipes or paper towels nearby as well, just in case. On this table, place something for your screen frame to rest on so that the screen is not setting directly on the table. When it is filled with ink you want it to be elevated a bit. I usually use some sponges or other small items that are spaced for the frame to rest on. Keep your water spray bottle here as well.
  • Have some test/scrap fabric set up for testing the design (optional).
Decide on the color of ink you want to use. I am using Versatex in my examples. There are many other brands out there, so use one that you like.  I placed dabs of ink on my scrap fabric to see which one I liked best. I decided to use the one on the far left.

Place your frame in the first position on the printing surface and align it with the markings. Place a line of ink across the upper area of the screen. Pull your print and lift up the frame. Note, you can pull a first print on a piece of scrap fabric if you desire.

Moving to the left, skip the next set of marks and align the frame to the third set. Pull your next print and then skip the next space. You are going to print every other space down the length of the printing surface. 

When you have finished printing every other space, take your screen to the side table and place it so it is elevated above the table surface. Very lightly spread the ink over the entire design area on the screen so that there is a somewhat even ink coating across the design. I sometimes use a smaller plastic spreader for this. Don't push hard with the spreader. You are not trying to push the ink through the screen, you are just trying to cover the design. This is called flooding the screen. The reason for this is to help keep the ink from drying in the design area of the screen. Then holding the water bottle about 12 or so inches above the screen give it one or two quick sprays to mist the ink.

Now grab your hair dryer and apply some warm/hot air to each print down the length of the printing surface. This will help the ink dry so that you can print the spaces in between without the frame picking up any wet ink from the fabric surface. I typically rotate the dryer in a circular pattern about six inches above the print for a count of around 15 to 20 seconds. Do this over each print you pulled. Lightly touch the ink on the fabric to see if it feels dry. If you see some on your finger, apply more air.

Now align your frame in the remaining spaces on the print surface and pull the rest of your prints.

Again return the frame to the side table and repeat the flooding of the screen and misting with water. Also repeat the drying on the newly pulled prints.

You now need to roll out more fabric onto your print surface. Remove all the pins that are holding it in place and pull the fabric down to the end so it pools into the basket.

Stop pulling the fabric when you reach the last print you pulled. Align the edge of the last print with your vertical tape line.

Smooth out the fabric all the way down the printing surface and align it along the bottom horizontal tape line. Re-pin so it stays flat.  You can now continue printing. Repeat all the steps above, printing every other space, flooding/misting the screen, drying the prints, etc.

This is the sequence you will follow until you have printed the entire length of fabric. 

When you have printed the entire piece of fabric, don't worry about using the hair dryer to dry the last prints on the print surface, these can air dry while you take care of more important matters.

You need to get the screen cleaned as quickly as possible. First I scrape any ink still remaining on the screen and squeegee and put it back in the ink container. I then remove the temporary tape that is holding the screen to the frame. I only want to wash the screen and not the frame. I don't want the frame to warp eventually from getting washed. It will have some areas of ink on it and you can wipe away any excess but eventually the frame will become stained with many colors of ink. That is okay as it doesn't affect how it performs.  Get your screen and tools washed as quickly as possible so that they remain in good condition.

By the time you come back to your fabric, the last of the prints should be dry to the touch. If not, go ahead and use the hair drying or just let them set there and dry. 

Remember to heat set your fabric according to the instructions on the ink container or provided by the ink manufacturer. Now you have some fabric yardage you can use in your next project.


  • If you see some smudges of ink on your prints, you may have picked up some wet ink on the bottom of your screen. If this happens, look at the bottom to see if you can find the problem area and wipe it with a paper towel or wet wipe.
  • Don't worry if your alignment is off a bit here and there. In the long run after you cut your fabric into smaller pieces, it won't be noticeable.
  • Don't worry if you have a spot here and there where the design didn't print well. That is the nature of hand printing and you will have a unique piece of fabric in the end.
  • If you don't have enough ink on your screen it can be difficult to flood the screen. Don't worry about having too much ink on your screen as you can always put any excess back in the jar when you are done printing.
  • Try not to spray too much water on the flooded screen. You don't want the ink to become watery. If it does your prints may look a bit smeared. Flooding and misting the screen is something that you will get better at with practice.
  • If an area of your screen does happen to get dried ink in it you will start seeing some skipping in your prints. If this happens, wet a paper towel with water and wipe that area of the screen until it looks like it has been cleaned. Try your print again, perhaps on a scrap piece of fabric to see if it has resolved.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on repeat printing with Thermofax screens. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments and I will answer them there. Thanks so much for following along.

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