Behind the Scenes

By Bryant Vallejo

For our 2015 collection we wanted to try something a little different and screen print our own tees. This would allow us the freedom of experimenting with more styles without being tied down with printing quantities at the factory. It was a long process of trial and error, from getting the right size of the print screens, mixing paints, to aligning the shirts over different layers. The end product is a one-of-a-kind hand-printed tee, as they are all ever so slightly different in some way.

In some of our designs we wanted to re-create the FC green from our first collection's Typhoon tee, so we mixed 1 part white with 1 part green and ¼ part blue. We ended up using it on a few of the styles like our Crossover, Saikung Shakas and Supa Furoto.

One of the main challenges of screen printing is aligning the graphic onto the shirt, and having 21 styles doesn’t make this process any easier. So we came up with different lines on the palette that serves as a marker for each style and size. A measured line in the center also helps us eyeball the alignment when we are in doubt.

Some tips to share:

-Keep the work area and your hands clean, and have a wet clean piece of cloth ready for cleaning your hands.

-Check the screen carefully for pinholes and fill them with a screen touch-up pen or cover them with a piece of tape. (We learned this the hard way!)

-Line up you screen carefully. A long ruler or t-square usually helps to make sure the design is straight. 

-Not all shirts or other garments are sewn correctly or consistently. So you may not be able to use the collar or center crease to position a shirt. The most reliable way we’ve found to center a shirt is to feel the side of the shirt where the seam is.

-Try for a consistent 45 degree angle when applying ink to the screen. Ink goes on pretty smooth at this angle. At an angle of 60-degrees or more, the ink may not get through the mesh correctly and evenly. An angle of 30-degrees or less can make the ink print too heavily onto the fabric.

- Make more than one squeegee pass to print. Try to do as many as 3, but that is usually the most you need. 

-When drying the print, you will 120 degrees of heat for the ink to cure (dry) properly. This can be a combination of a blow dryer + iron or if you can, use a flash heater!

-if ironing, make sure the print is dry so it wont stick, do not iron directly over the shirt, use a cotton cloth or a handkerchief on top of the print and give it a good press.