How Can I Make Fabric Paint Not Be Stiff?

Painting on clothing can leave it stiff and uncomfortable.
Painting on clothing can leave it stiff and uncomfortable. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Painting on fabric is easy to do with acrylic paints. Sometimes fabric painting can leave the fabric stiff, and this makes the painted fabric item less appealing. There are a few ways to get around this problem, however. One of the biggest preventive methods is to use care in selecting fabric paint. Some fabric paints are known for leaving a stiff effect, while others specialize in softness.

Things You'll Need

  • Sodium alginate
  • Fabric dye
  • Golden fabric medium
  • SoSoft Acrylic fabric paint
  • Jacquard fabric paint

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Using Acrylic Paint

Mix acrylic paint with Golden fabric medium according to directions included with the medium.

Apply the paint to fabric.

Allow fabric and paint to dry thoroughly.

Place protective towel or other surface over ironing board.

Turn the fabric over and iron from the back side to set paint and soften in one step.

Brand Specific Paint

Purchase SoSoft or Jacquard fabric paint.

Apply paint as desired.

Set Jacquard paint by ironing from the back, as in use of Golden acrylic medium. SoSoft does not need to be heat set.

Dye Method

Purchase fabric dyes and sodium alginate. Mix dyes according to package directions.

Mix dyes according to package directions.

Add sodium alginate according to the directions included with it.

Allow the sodium alginate to set and thicken the dye to the desired thickness for painting.

Paint using the thickened dye. No heat set needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some fabric paint will stick to the usual cardboard form used for decorating T-shirts. This can be prevented by using a nonstick surface, such as foil or plastic, between the fabric and the cardboard.
  • Protect work surfaces from fabric paint and dyes. These substances can be difficult to remove.


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