How to Paint On Fabrics

If you are looking for a fantastic way to give your home a new glamorous touch, fabric painting could be the best solution you are looking for. Whether it’s your shoes, throw pillows, or clothing, painting gives them a new dazzling look. Though it sounds easy, a beginner needs to be cautious and follow the proper steps to achieve desired results. A slight mistake may end up ruining the whole fabric.

For better understanding, this guide will help you to get started on your fabric painting journey. You will get to know the kind of paints you can use, how you should paint on clothes and other essential things to help you achieve the best outcomes. 

Well, with this eased out, let’s get down to the details of how to paint on fabrics;

Choosing The Right Fabric Paint

Before you dive into the world of fabric painting, it’s essential to know the type of paints you need to carry along. Your desired results and the fabric you are working on should influence the type of paint you choose. Nevertheless, to give your fabric a permanent paint, you can choose either of the following paints;

1. Acrylic

Can I use acrylic paint on my fabric? This is one of the questions that stir up a beginner’s mind ready to venture into fabric paint. Well, acrylic paints are versatile and permanent. This quality boosts its popularity and preference by most artists.

Moreover, acrylic is easy to use and produces quality with most fabrics. More advantageously, the paint also offers the cheapest option compared to its rivals in the market.

2. Fabric Dye

When you think of how to paint on fabrics, whether for commercial or domestic purposes, using fabric dye can be among your priorities. The only drawback you encounter with fabric dye is that it’s limited to specific types of fabric fibres. This is because different types of fibres correspond well with different forms of chemical bonds.

To avoid unpleasant results, purchase a dye that fits the type of fabric you intend to paint.

3. Alcohol-Based colourants

Unlike others, these are alcohol-based inks that soak into the fibres of your fabric. However, they do not give a saturated look that you get with acrylic paints or dyes. Also, you will need to apply a protective sealant to prevent the fabric from fading while washing.

As for how to paint on fabrics undyingly, all the paints above will do, but you need to instil appropriate care and technique. With each type of paint you choose, ensure you select its suitable form depending on your fabric type. You can get the paints in any of these three forms;

  • Pens/Markers: These are best for writing, drawing lines or detailed painting 
  • Liquids: They are best for painting blocks
  • Sprays:  Best for furnishings, painting large areas and stencilling.

Generally, the choices you make should match the project you are working on. You may even use different types of fabric paints to achieve the results you are craving.

Tips on how to paint on fabrics

How to paint a fabric requires your expertise as much as it requires the correct paint. To get you started, below are some expert tips that will help you beautify your fabric;

1. Wash new fabric

As explained earlier, paints adhere differently to various types of chemicals. While washed fabrics are ready for painting, it’s advisable to wash the new fabric before painting. Washing helps get rid of any chemicals coating the fabric from the factory. Washing not only shrinks the fibres but also sets your fabric to its final size before you embark on designing.

Most importantly, never use fabric softeners while washing. You are washing to get rid of chemicals, and using a softener adds chemicals. This, in turn, ruins the results by giving a vague paint.

2. Separate the layers

When painting a side of layered fabric, put a barrier in between to keep the paint from penetrating. For instance, do this with t-shirts, pillowcases or any layered items. Most artists use cardboards as a barrier since its efficient and readily available.

3. Wet your fabric

If you have taken part in any tie-dying activity, then you must be familiar with this rule. A wet fabric eases the absorption of the paint by improving adhesion. Just avoid excessive wetting since it will dilute your colours or cause them to bleed.

4. Test the paint

Paints can be confusing; it may look different on your fabric than it looks inside the bottle. To avoid frustrating your expectations, always test the colour on a different surface of your fabric. By doing this, you will be aware of the colour and consistency of your paint before embarking on your project.

5. Apply heat to set the paint

Setting the paint on your fabric enhances long-lasting results. It’s essential to know the right way of doing this; simply iron the fabric on the opposite side you painted. Always do the ironing done on low or medium heat 24 hours after painting. The fabric should also be allowed to rest for one week before washing.

6. Light up the fabric

Light is your accomplice when fabric painting becomes your thing. It calls for double lighting when working on a project that requires fine detailing. Ensure you use a well-lit surface for clear visibility of what you are doing.

7. Paint gently

Note that fabric paint is made to adhere to fibres; this means that it’s unnecessary to press it hard during your painting. Press as much as it is enough to deposit colour; excessive pressing may get the colour where it’s not needed.

8. Understand the type of fabric you are working on

Fabrics adhere to paints differently. Whether it’s cotton, canvas, linen or denim, you must be careful to maintain the quality of your fabric and give it the best design. Iron fabrics that are prone to wrinkling before designing. This ensures that the design looks perfect and decent.

9. Bleach erred areas

Though it’s not an assurance, bleach works magic by erasing erred areas. Simply deep a small paintbrush in bleach and test how it works on your fabric.  If it works well, use it to clean a mess and wash it off to deactivate it before applying paint to the area. Bleach is also recommended as a medium while working on dark fabrics.

10. Incorporate usage of stencils

If you doubt your hand ability to paint, stencils will ease the burden for you. You can buy them from an art resource store or make your own at home. The two options help in boosting your design qualities.

11. Be creative

To add glamour to your work, add creative mediums that suits your preference. For instance, add decorations such as ribbons, jewels or embroidery. Such creativity ensures you produce a unique fabric.

Final Recap

Learning how to paint on fabrics is a fun and valuable skill. To achieve appealing results, do your research beforehand and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. If you are a beginner or require more tips to boost your fabric painting skills, we hope that our guide eases the process.

About Tom

Tom is a blogger and artist who also loves technology. He spends his days blogging about the latest developments in the world of art, and he enjoys sharing his thoughts with readers on what it means to be an artist today. Tom has always been interested in technology - but it wasn't until he was 13 years old that he discovered how much fun making websites could be! Tom is a fun-loving, adventure seeking creative type. He enjoys reviewing art products and technology gadgets on his blog and has been doing so for over 5 years now! He spends most of his time in the studio, at the beach, or out exploring new places.

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