T-Shirt Technicalities

By Natalie Burnett.

At Heritage Academy there comes an opportunity to show school spirit by wearing a t-shirt from school activities such as dance, choir, or sports. This opportunity is called spirit day: the day students get to set aside their polo and wear a comfy red, white, or blue t-shirt. I have been involved in many sports classes and have accumulated many t-shirts over the years, but this past year, things have been a little different. Ever since my parents started a screen printing company, I have screened many of the students’ spirit shirts. First I’d like to explain what exactly screen printing is, how to do it, and what the finished product should be.


Screen printing is the process of printing shirts; in other words, it is how you get ink, letters, and symbols on t-shirts. A screen is essentially the stencil for your design, made up of silk or mesh-like material. This material is sealed in most areas except for mesh sections of your design that allow the ink to seep through. When you pull the ink across the screen, only the mesh area allows the ink to go through on to the shirt. Screen printing is using ink to create the design you want.


To make a screen printed t-shirt, you first need to know what design you want. You can buy a design online or make it yourself on photoshop. Then you have to find out the shirt details: how many, which sizes, which fabric, and which styles. After collecting that information, you order the shirts. Next you have to create a screen using your design. After you have the shirts and the design has been transferred to a screen, measurements and estimates take place to make sure the design will be positioned correctly on the shirt. The shirt is then positioned on the plack, which holds the the shirt in place with a flat surface on which to print. You then dab some ink on the screen, and pull the ink across the screen–which allows the ink to pass through the mesh of the screen onto the t-shirt. After this, the shirt is passed under a heater to prepare the shirt for a second color, or to finish with the shirt by putting it through a dryer. Then take the next shirt and do it again.  This is the process taken when making your own screen printed shirts.


There is something special when I can see shirts I screened myself everywhere on campus on spirit day, such as Straight outta Jazz band, Hawaii 2019, Powderpuff, basketball,  volleyball, and more. There are so many ways to be involved at school. Even though I enjoy participating in sports it is fun to be a part of all the other activities, if only behind the scene. Understanding screen printing can be tricky without experience, and the experience is an adventure with many mistakes along the way, but the finished product is amazing. When you print shirts yourself you are able to create a masterpiece and tie it to a memory, both of which last a very long time.

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