Tutorials for Fabric Painting


There are a variety of techniques and tools that can be used in fabric painting. Fabric painting bottles are one of the most common and easiest tools to use. These painting bottles have paints that are specially produced to work with fibers and built-in applicator tips for painting straight out of the bottle.

The Fabric

  • To get the best results out of fabric painting, it is important to choose the right type of fabric. While there are many types of fabric that can be painted on, including silk, satin and polyester, cotton fabric is the most effective at holding paint. If you do not have 100 percent cotton, the next best is a cotton/polyester blend. High-thread counts create a smoother pattern than lower-thread counts and help prevent paint from bleeding through the fabric.

    Before painting, prepare the fabric by washing and drying it in order to preshrink. Avoid using fabric softener. It will make it difficult for the paint to be absorbed.

Readying the Painting Surface

  • Always use a shirt board or wax paper between the layers of the clothing item that you will be painting. This prevents the paint from bleeding through to the other side. To ensure that your fabric stays in place on the board or wax paper, pin it into place. This will also help keep the fabric flat, giving you a smooth surface to work on. Any ripples that exist in the fabric as it is being painted will be noticeable in the finished result.

Painting Techniques

  • Once you have set up your painting surface, you can use painting bottles for the simplest painting. The bottle should be held in the crook of the palm like a pencil and moved with the same general motions. Keep the tip directly against the fabric for the best results. Use shorter lines, only 3 to 4 inches in length, instead of creating long lines. This will help the lines stay straight and even. After the paint has been placed, brushes can be used to clean up the drawing. Clean edges can be created with a flat shader paint brush, liner brushes help shape long lines and blending is best done with scrubber brushes.

    Keep a few empty painting bottles on hand for mixing colors. Once the colors have been blended, you can add them to an empty bottle and paint as usual. Water can be used when mixing fabric paints to lighten colors.

Let Dry

  • Painted fabric takes at least 24 hours to dry, but should be left for 72 hours before washing. Once the paint is dry, the painted object should be placed in the dryer on high heat for 10 to 15 minutes to set the paint. Turning the item inside out and ironing will also work to set the paint.

    Night skies and other dark objects should be painted on hot, sunny days with low humidity. The faster the paint dries, the darker it will be.

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