How to Keep Airbrush Paint Permanent on Shirts

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You can keep your shirt artwork from fading.
You can keep your shirt artwork from fading. (Image: angel's t-shirt image by sminx from Fotolia.com)

Artwork that has been airbrushed onto a shirt will crack and fade if it is not subjected to a process called heat setting, which permanently bonds the paint to the fabric. Professional shirt painters use large heat press devices, allowing the entire shirt to be pressed at once. These presses cost hundreds of dollars, however, and are beyond most amateurs. You can do your own heat setting at home with a few common household items.

Things You'll Need

  • Parchment paper
  • Iron

Lay the shirt on a flat surface with the airbrushed artwork facing up. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over the artwork.

Set an iron to its highest setting (ideally at least 300 degrees) and let it heat up.

Iron the shirt through the parchment paper for two to three minutes. Keep the iron moving in small circles to avoid scorching the shirt.

Allow the shirt to cool before wearing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using higher-quality paints and fabrics will produce artwork that lasts longer. If you use the cheap stuff, you artwork will crack and fade much faster.
  • Never iron airbrushed artwork without a layer of parchment paper protecting it. The paint could melt off onto the iron, permanently damaging it.

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