The technique of screen printing, or serigraphy, dates back to the Song Dynasty during the first century AD. In its most basic form, screen printing is achieved by transferring a stenciled image to woven material via an ink block. While the screen printing technique did spread across other parts of Asia, Europeans did not learn of it until the late 1700s.
Over the next couple of centuries, screen printers attempted to improve the screen printing process by experimenting with different materials and chemicals like chromate, diochromate, potassium, sodium, gelatin compounds, and various glues. In the 1930s, a group of screen print designers came together to form a group called the National Serigraphic Society. It is from the name of this group that the word “serigraphy” was coined.
The process of creating custom design t-shirts usually involves a basic cotton t-shirt, screen printing ink, and a “flat bed” screen press. Cotton is the material of choice because it stands up to repeated washing and holds ink well. The application of an image occurs when a rubber blade called a “squeegee” pumps ink through the fabric via capillary action. The result is an exact reproduction of a stenciled image. This same process can also be applied to thicker cotton material, such as the fabric used to create customized hoodies, sweatshirts, and sweatpants. Screen printed t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies are perhaps the most popular types of casual clothing today, particularly among youth. While customized sweatshirts and customized hoodies are not worn by every kid, it is easy and cheap to order or create and design custom t-shirts online