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How to Paint on Fabric Permanently: Effective and Easy Ways

Clothes don’t always come in the exact shapes, designs, and colors that we want. A lot of the time, you won’t find just what you are looking for.

Maybe you want a certain t-shirt with a specific design but it just doesn’t exist. Or you might not like that one piece of clothing that looks boring and are wishing for a change.

So what if you can’t find a piece that suits your liking? Can’t you make it yourself?

Yes, you can! Thanks to the internet, you can DIY almost anything these days, including fabric painting. This is not that different from actual painting either, so have no worries.

Two Easy Ways to Paint on Fabric

These two methods I’m going to teach you are easy and simple! All you need is to gather some ingredients and tools, and you’re good to go.

And having learned this, you don’t just have to stick to making nice clothes for yourself, you can make a variety of things.

You can paint on bags, make cushion covers and table mats, or, you can hand the paint and clothes to kids and let their creative juices flow! Imagine having your kid wear the clothes they themselves made. Adorable!

First, Get The Things You Will Need

Now, obviously, for this, you will require paints and textile mediums.

The medium is an absolute necessity because without it, you will have dry, stiff, flaky paint on your garment. The medium will soften and dilute the paint, making it easier to apply and durable.

Where to Find Fabric Paint

You might ask now, where you will find this fabric paint and textile medium I’m talking about. It’s not like many people use these, so most don’t even know where to buy them.

Honestly, it’s that hard to find. Fabric paint is sold in small bottles of 2oz. or 8oz. in most stationery stores. Just pop in and ask to see some different colors and brands.

If you’re lucky, the shopkeeper will recommend a good brand himself. And you will find the desired textile medium there as well.

There is a chance though, that your stationery store will not have the fabric color you want. It’s best then if you find a store that sells garments, thread, and lace. They will surely have some. That’s where I go to fulfill my fabric color needs. You might also find some in crafting stores. So, you have quite a few options.

This method is very easy, once you have the right ingredients to start with. You will of course need the color of fabric paint you want. Along with that, you will have to have paintbrushes, sponges, cloth hoops, a textile medium, a palette, wax paper or a cardboard cutout, measuring utensils, and an iron.

Lay the Fabric

First, lay out your fabric on a table and slide the cardboard or wax paper between its folds or under it. This is to prevent the paint from getting on any part of the fabric you don’t want it on.

Secure the place you want to paint on with a cloth hoop. This will keep the fabric taut and prevent art disaster, making your work, and life, much easier.

Prep the Paint

Now you want to get a palette, or a bowl or cup, where you can mix the paint. Take one part medium and two parts of your chosen fabric paint. Mix those together with a brush until the white of the medium has blended in completely.

Start Painting

Next, you just want to take a paintbrush, or a spoon, your fingers, a sponge, anything, dip it in the paint and start painting. If you’re a newbie, you might want to trace the design you like with a pencil on the fabric first.

Or, you can buy wooden blocks with designs carved into them. You can just dip and dab the paint on. And in one easy motion, you will have a pretty design.

Allow Time to Dry

Once you have pretty much gone to town with the paint and different colors, you will want to dry it. It’s best if you leave the fabric out to dry for 2 to 3 days. It doesn’t necessarily have to be under the sun but in a nice dry place.

Iron On

Once you’ve crossed the 2/3 day mark, or notice that the paint is not sticky and wet anymore, you can iron. Turn the garment inside out, lay it on the board and start ironing!

You will want to press down on the place where you have the painting, with your iron. Do not slide it but just put some pressure for a little while and then move over to the next spot.

Be careful not to burn your garment in the process. You will want to maintain a medium heat.

Finishing Touch

Take your ironed fabric, let it cool, then some time later, give it a wash in cold water. Dried up and clean, your garment will be ready to wear, adorned with the art you created!

Alternative Way – Just Use Acrylic!

If everything fails and no one can provide you with the fabric paint that you want. Or, maybe you just can’t find the right color.

Then, you can opt for acrylic paint as well. This sort of paint is comparatively more common, as it has a lot more different uses in the world of art. These you can find at any art or stationery store, easily.

This is an option you can follow if you just can’t find the right fabric paint, or you have enough acrylic lying around the house and you don’t want to waste time and energy looking for another type of paint.

For this, too, you will need a textile medium. You will also need a palette, brushes, sponges or blocks, wax paper or cardboard, an iron, etc.

Lay the Fabric Well

Like before you want to prepare your fabric for painting, by laying it down on a hard surface and sliding paper or cardboard beneath it, to save the other side.

You could use a cloth hoop to secure the spot you will paint on. This will make painting much easier, minimizing the risk of mistakes.

Mix the Paint

The real difference between these two methods lies in the mixing of the paint. Like I said before, painting with acrylic will still require textile mediums.

This time, you want to take you palette or bowl and measure out equal parts medium and paint. Mix those in together with a spoon, brush or stirrer until all the medium dissolves.

Start to Paint

With this diluted paint mixture, start painting! You can use different colors, or go for your favorite designs and texts. The best thing about this process is that you can still use the color for lots of other elements. It doesn’t have to lie around and go to waste.

Leave to Dry

Once the painting is over with, you will want to leave the paint to dry for at least 48 hours or until it doesn’t feel sticky anymore.

Press it With Medium Heat

Take the fabric once everything has dried perfectly to iron it. Turn it inside out, don’t put heat directly on to the paint itself.

You might want to slide a board in between the paint and the fabric again. Then just press down on the spots where you painted with the iron on medium heat.

Final Touches

Cool the fabric, and wash it with cold water. Dry it like normal and you will have a painted garment, ready for use!

How to paint on fabric permanently: Final thoughts

These two methods are easy, simple and quite fun! I mean, anything that involves drawing and colors, is fun, right? And best of all, you get to wear or decorate your house with your own works.

These could even work as great conversation starters between you and your friends. Following these methods and with a little practice, anyone can become an artist.

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