A Silk-Screened Pillowcase

Learn how to put your own ‘designer label’ on a pillow.

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A silk screen is simply a sophisticated stencil that can be used repeatedly and quickly. There are four steps to making a silk screen: cutting the pattern, stretching the silk, adhering the pattern and taping the edge. In this project, you'll be attaching a silk-screen image to a pillowcase.

Materials and Tools:

4 pieces of wood for frame
10x or 12x polyester silk, about 20 by 26 inches
staple gun
¼-inch staples
vinyl-based silk-screen gel
craft knife
lacquer thinner
disposable plastic gloves
paper towels
duct tape
pre-washed 100 percent cotton fabric
silk-screen printing ink
long-handled spoon
silk screen
rotary cutter
cutting mat
6-by-24-inch transparent ruler with grids
10½-inch-square piece of Plexiglas
sewing machine
about 20 strips of 7-by-22-inch colored fabric
20-by-20-inch pre-washed 100% cotton batting with muslin on the back
4 strips of 1½-by-15-inch black fabric with small designs
2 pieces of 20-by-12½-inch fabric for the back


1. Cut a piece of gel bigger than the image you're using. Tape the image to a piece of cardboard, and tape the gel on top of it. With a craft knife, carefully cut away everything that will be printed, in small pieces at a time. Note: There's a plastic layer behind the gel that should not be cut.

2. Cut a piece of silk bigger than the frame. Beginning in the center of one of the long sides, secure it to the frame with the staple gun, stretching as you go, stapling about every half-inch. Repeat the process on the other side, always starting in the center. Stretch and adhere the third and then the fourth sides, pulling out any wrinkles in the surface. Trim the edges.

3. Put down a pad of newspaper. Trim the gel with the cut image to a size that will comfortably fit into the prepared frame. Place the cut image on the paper pad, gel side up and plastic side down. Put the frame with the stretched silk on top of the gel.

4. Put on a pair of plastic gloves. With a small amount of lacquer thinner on a paper towel, gently rub the surface of the gel through the silk. It will turn darker green.

5. With a dry paper towel, take away the thinner. The thinner is melting the gel, allowing it to seep into the silk. The dry towel takes away the thinner before it dissolves the gel completely. Repeat until the gel is entirely attached to the surface of the silk. Set aside the box for a few minutes so that the gel can harden. Carefully peel the plastic from the back of the gel in a well-ventilated area or outside.

6. Flip the box over so that the gel side is up. Check for pinholes or any tears in the gel, and patch with nail polish if necessary. Tape all sides of the bottom of the box with duct tape.

7. Place some newspapers on the table to make a pad. Put the fabric on the paper. Put the silk screen on the fabric. Spoon out a line of ink onto the screen. Use the squeegee to pull the ink across the surface of the screen.

8. Lift the screen to reveal the printed fabric. Set the box aside, and hang the fabric to dry.

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