Fleece is a popular choice for custom clothing because it’s cozy and versatile. However, screen printing on fleece can be challenging due to the nature of the fabric. But, with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully.
Continue reading below as we walk you through the steps involved in screen printing on fleece.
Step 1: Prepare Your Design
You first need to prepare your design before you start screen printing. Prepare your artwork like you would with any other fabric, though you’ll need to pay special attention to the unique details of the fleece garment, like any extra pockets, zippers, or seams. If you can, try to avoid placing the artwork over seams.
When you’re getting your artwork ready, keep in mind that fine details may get lost when screen printing on fleece since it’ll typically require a heavy ink deposit. So, consider all of these factors when you’re settling on a design.
Step 2: Choose the Right Screen
Depending on the type of design you are screen printing on the fleece, you’ll need to choose the proper mesh count accordingly for your pre-burned screen. Pre-burned screens that are created digitally make your work much more simplified, not requiring you to use light exposure, chemical cleaning, washout, or emulsions when printing.
For photos, fine lines, gradients, and small font sizes, you’ll want to order a screen with a higher mesh count. If you’re looking to print a design with less detailed line art, or artwork using fills and fine details, you can use a screen with a lower mesh count. Lastly, for fills, heavier inks, or designs with larger elements, you can use a screen with an even lower mesh count.
With fleece, you’ll often be using heavier inks and less-detailed designs, so you probably don’t need screens with the highest mesh count when printing on this fabric.
Step 3: Choose the Right Ink
Since fleece is naturally a thicker material, you’ll generally need to use a heavier ink deposit when making your screen prints. This doesn’t always have to be true, especially if you need to print your design over garment details like seams and zippers–in which case a thinner ink will do.
It’s not uncommon for dye migration to occur when printing on fleece given the polyester content of the material. So, you may want to look for low-bleed inks when printing on fleece.
Step 4: Prepare the Fleece
With all these details organized, you can start to get the fleece garment ready for screen printing.
Lay your fleece flat on the printing board, making sure it’s smooth and free from wrinkles. It can be worthwhile to use masking tape or other adhesives to secure the edges of the fleece to the printing board to keep it from shifting during printing. This will help you avoid blurry or fuzzy prints.
Step 5: Print Your Design
Now you can actually start printing your design onto the fleece. Place your pre-burned screen with your design onto the fleece, making sure it’s aligned correctly. Apply a small amount of ink onto the top of the screen, near the edge of the stencil.
Use your squeegee to spread the ink across the stencil, applying pressure to push the ink through the mesh and onto the fleece. Make sure you use a smooth, even motion when pulling the squeegee across the screen.
Once you’ve completed the design, carefully lift the screen off the fleece and allow the ink to dry completely before moving the garment–then you’re done and can enjoy the item!