Working with Fabric Paints

This post may contain affiliate links. I may make a commission if you purchase through them. :)

Fabric paint is a fun and easy way to create a unique piece of clothing or home decor.

You don’t need many materials, and it doesn’t take a lot of skill or practice.

But, the amount of fun and creative things you can make are endless.

And did I mention fun? :)

Fabric Paint Project Ideas

The first thing you will need to decide on is what sort of project you’d like to make. Fabric painting is probably most commonly done on t-shirts, but don’t hesitate to think outside the box. Other clothing items such as skirts, aprons, canvas shoes and baby onesies all make great candidates for fabric paint. You can even enhance a pair of pants by adding some paint detail to the cuffs or pockets. Looking to add a unique piece to your home? Fabric paint is a great way to make custom pillow shams, curtains or dish towels.

Design Techniques for Fabric Painting

Now that you have a project in mind, think about what sort of look you’d like to achieve. Freehand painting is a great way to express personal style, but if the thought of freehand painting intimidates you, there are plenty of other easy options. Pre-made stencils and stamps are readily available at craft stores and come in a variety of patterns and designs. Look for larger patterns without small detail; fabric paint works best on a larger scale. Want to make it more customized? Use stencil film or cardstock to cut out a custom stencil. For fun, unique prints, cut a raw potato in half and carve a design of your choice – stick to chunky patterns as too much detail will get lost when you apply the paint.

Types of Fabric Paint

There are a few different types of fabric paint: 3-dimensional fabric paint, acrylic fabric paint and fabric paint spray. You’ll want to get a paint that matches your design technique.

3D Puff Paints

3-dimensional paint (or “puff paint”) can be applied directly from the squirt bottle onto your material. If left to dry, the paint remains raised, or 3-dimensional. It can be applied with a brush for a more flat look. 3-dimenionsal fabric paint is great for kids or freehand painting. Tulip and Scribbles both make 3-dimensional fabric paints in a variety of colors, including paints with glitter.

Acrylic Fabric Paints

The most versatile fabric paints are acrylic based. Most stores carry Tulip, Createx and FolkArt brands – all of which have a large line of colors and textures (matte, glitter, metallic, velvet, etc). These paints can be used for freehand painting, stenciling or stamping.

Fabric Spray Paints

Fabric spray paints work well when used with stencils. Tulip and Duncan make fabric spray paints that are available at most craft stores, and Rust-oleum also make a line of spray paints suitable for fabric or vinyl (carried at home improvement stores).

Other Supplies You Will Need

Once you have a plan, you’ll need to gather your supplies. Fabric painting is best done on natural fabrics, such as cotton or linen. Choose a fabric that is 100% cotton or a mostly cotton blend. Find the type of paint that matches your design technique – don’t be afraid to buy multiple colors to mix in order to achieve the shade you want! For freehand painting, you’ll need a paintbrush. For stenciling, you’ll want to pick up some paint sponges – it works best to sponge on your paint through the stencil. And of course if you stenciling or stamping, you’ll need to choose those items. You’ll also want paper plates or wax paper to put your paint on, as well as cardboard to place underneath your fabric (so that paint doesn’t leak through). You may also want to have some fabric scraps on hand so that you can test your technique before trying it on your project.

The Process

Be sure to pre-wash and dry your fabric to rid it of any production chemicals (do not use fabric softener), and iron it so that it lies flat. Pull your fabric tight so that paint saturates the fabric well, and be sure to put cardboard underneath the area that you are painting. Tape or hold stencils firmly to prevent slipping and bleeding of paint; apply even pressure to stamps. Follow the directions on your fabric paint – some need to be heat set with an iron after drying. Most importantly, be creative! You are making a custom piece of art!

Fabric Painting Possibilities

Now that you have a basic understanding of fabric painting, the sky is the limit! Fabric paint is great for creating unique gifts and is a fun activity for a party. For kids’ parties, decorating t-shirts is a unique party favor. Painting onesies at a baby shower is a fun and practical gift for the baby. Fabric painting is easy, fun and full of endless possibilities!

One thought on “Working with Fabric Paints

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *