Silkscreen Printing – A way to get a custom printed shirt steeped in history

We all know that ancient Japanese, Chinese, and even some Indian clothing were more than just plain colors.

Looking through the history books, we can find many instances of elaborate clothing for the higher social classes.

But do you know how they imbued such eloquent designs on their clothing?

The answer is screen printing.

Silkscreen printing has been around for thousands of years, though it started off as a luxury and only for those among what we would call the royals or rich.

Read on to learn the history of printing on clothing and how it evolved into what we know today as custom printing.

The beginning

The use of stencils and printing has been around since the dawn of man.

This is evidenced on many cave walls throughout the world where cavemen had left their stories and art.

We may never know where the actual first custom printed piece of clothing came from though because there are various tales of it in countries like China, India, and Japan.

Many historians give China the credit of being the first place to print custom clothing, though.

It is thought that China began using screen printing to print designs on clothing, tapestries, and other fabrics somewhere around 960 to 1279 AD in the Song Dynasty.

At this time, the method was rudimentary.

But the first recognizable forms of screen printing are said to have started in Japan.

This was done using paper as a stencil, human hair to form a mesh, and stiff brushes to force the ink through it onto the fabric.

During this time, only the wealthy and royal people would wear clothing using this method, and typically only colors and elegant patterns would be on their clothing.

The era of custom printed everything

Throughout time, the art of printing traveled to all parts of Asia and then into Europe, but was still reserved for select people, and it was not as improved as we see today.

It wasn’t until around the 1900s that screen printing on clothing became closer to what we know today.

Around this time, people began using silk to make the mesh, and squeegees were used to push paint through the mesh.

In 1907, three men (Roy Beck, Charles Peters, and Edward Owens), began experimenting with chemicals to create photos on shirts and other items with stencils, and even got a patent on their method. 

The true rise of custom printed shirts came in the 1960s, though, when Andy Warhol introduced POP ART to America, using screen printing to imbue images of Marilyn Monroe.

This started the trend of bands making custom shirts for concerts, and people wanting their own custom shirts of all kinds.

How to find the best place to get your custom printed items

When you are looking for a place to get your own custom shirt using silkscreen printing, do your research to find the best place.

Ask family, friends, and neighbors where they get theirs printed.

Look at several places online to compare prices and quality.

Talk to them about what design and fabric you want to see what they can do for you.

If you have your own custom design in mind, see if they can do it and how they want you to send them the drawing.

Glance at pictures of their previous printed shirts.

After you receive your custom printed shirt done by silkscreen printing, you can proudly say you are wearing a unique piece of art steeped in history.

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