I started a project quilt a few months back, one that I planned to screen print onto - I have the quilt made, the design done... and now I need to do the pre-press to get it ready for printing. I thought you might enjoy this process, so I'm sharing!
As with quilting, screen printing is very "set-up" oriented. You have to plan, measure, and cut before you can start stitching on a quilt. For screen printing, we need to make and set up a screen before we think about pulling ink. Pre-press is what this part of printing is called, and it's what I do everyday for our t-shirt business.
Printing on a pre-made quilt top will be a first for me and my husband, who is collaborating with me for the actual printing. This is because our screen size is usually maxed out at a 10"x 12" size, this quilt is about 54"x 65"... and with seams! So, the BIG question is: how are we going to print a large image? We decided to break it up into smaller bits and print in small sections with an 3/8"overlap. Fingers will be crossed tightly through this part to see if this will work.
So... To start I made a grid in Illustrator the size of my quilt blocks - the actual quilt blocks do vary about 1/4" here and there, so it's a general guideline:
Then I took a photo of my quilt and dropped it into the file and stretched it to fit my grid - which is closer to accurate:
From here I laid out my design and put it where I want to see it. The plan is to use a white discharge ink which will release the dye of the fabric, rather than putting a layer of ink over the top of the fabric.
Eventually I will need to make film positives from this artwork, so everything I want to print needs to be black. It also makes it easier to do the prepress.
Now I have my design over my grid where I want it to be, so I no longer need the photo of the quilt top:
Now I need to divide the black artwork up into smaller printable sections, instead of 13 different photos, I made a little video:
Here's a close-up of one of the sections:
The solid black parts will print, everything else is there to help Gregg set it up "in registration" with all the other sections. These sections will become screens. The small lines are marks for where the seams of the quilt should end up, and I also have marked which block they should be in.
From here, I would normally send each one of these sections out to get a piece of film positive made at a pre-press company. One of these sections would be $35 as a piece of film, since I do not want to spend that on one-time prints, I'm going to make copies on transparency stock at Kinkos. Once we have the films made, we can start the next part of the process: shooting screens.
This quilt is all about process - which takes time, however... I will post as soon as we start on the screens!