How To Paint On Fabric And Textiles

Posted by Rosalie Galvez on January 26th, 2021

In this article, I've mentioned all the supplies and an easy step by step guide that will help you create beautiful designs on fabric 

Supplies for getting started with fabric painting

If you are a beginner then you don't need to spend too much on buying supplies. To start with fabric paint you will just need primary colors like red, yellow, and blue, some basic brushes, cardboard to separate the two layers of the cloth, some tissues to wipe, and two to three cups of water and that's all you will need to start with your creative journey! 
But if you are a stationery lover like me and want to buy some more cool stuff then keep reading!


Flat Brushes: This brush is most commonly used in fabric painting. It is also known by the name 'Shader Brush'. It is mostly used for highlighting, shading, and blending.
Round Tip Brush: This brush has more organized bristles and that's why it is used for detailing.
Liner Brush: It is used for making lines.
Foam Brush: This brush is used on a large surface area. It is mostly used for applying the basic layer of color. It comes with a wooden handle.
Outliners Filled With Paint: These are used for making a 3D painting but it does not help make liquid embroidery on the garments. This brush is mostly used for glass painting
Permanent Markers: These are used for making outlines. 
Soft Brushes: These brushes help in giving the paint a watercolor effect
Scrubber brushes: These are made of tapered bristles. They are perfect for blending color and for creating short and rough strokes.
Stamps: These are already made designs, you just need to dip them in paints and apply it on your favorite piece of cloth. 
Sponges: These are great absorbents, and therefore can be used for applying paints
Other than this, dip pens, airbrushes can be used for fabric painting.
And yeah! The tip is 'Always clean your brushes after completing your artwork'  otherwise you will soon lose the soft bristles of your favorite brushes!


The first question that comes to our mind while painting on fabric is what type of color should we use for it? So here is the answer:
Mostly acrylic fabric paints are used to paint on fabric. They can be used separately or we can also mix them with fabric medium. Fabric medium is an opaque and thick fluid and after applying it to fabric cloth, when it dries off it gets transparent or colorless. It can also be used with acrylic paints or textiles paints to give a watercolor effect without causing the fading or changing of the color. Another benefit of the fabric medium is that it doesn't cause bleeding and spreading of the paint.
We can also use ordinary acrylic paints by mixing them with fabric medium. Fabric medium gives the paint a flexible look otherwise if we use the acrylic paints separately, it cracks and peel off when it dries. To make this mixture you have to add one part of fabric medium and two parts of any acrylic paint, after adding just mix them properly and your paint is ready!
If you don't like the glossy appearance of your paint, then you can mix Matte Medium with acrylic paint to give it a matte appearance.
To give a watercolor appearance to your paint, you just have to mix water with acrylic paint on a ratio of 5:1. There is a Gel medium available if you want to give a glossy appearance to your painting. It is a non-yellowing protective coating which protects the paint from water and UV-rays.

Always read the instructions!

Make sure you always read the instructions on the fabric paint pot before you start with your painting and try to swatch the paints on a piece of cloth before applying it to the actual fabric because many fabric paints dry 24 hours after applying it and some paints need to heat set or iron them before washin

Which colors to choose if you are a beginner?

If you are a beginner there is no need to buy all the colors, you will just need the primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow and two basic colors (white and black). And mix two primary colors to make a secondary color such as if you will mix red and yellow together a new color will be formed which is orange and blue and red will make purple/ violet color and use black and white colors to darken and lightning the shade such as if you will mix 2 parts of white and 1 part of red you will get the light pink color


For painting, most often the cotton fabric is preferred because it is tightly weaved. If you paint on a loosely weaved fabric then there are many chances that the paint may spread or bleed but when you use a fabric that is tightly weaved then the paint gets a large surface area to be absorbed. If you are going to make a painting that needs broad brush strokes then the loosely weaved fabric can prove better but if you are going with the small detailed work then you should go with tightly weaved fabric.
Light-colored fabric is mostly preferred because a small amount of paint can work on it but if you have picked a dark-colored fabric then there is no need to worry, you just need to apply more than two layers of the paint so that it doesn't look faded 
Other than cotton we can also paint on rayon, satin, quilting fabric, flannel, linen, canvas, silk organza, suede, terry cloth, velvet, velveteen, leather, and most synthetic fabrics. Just start your painting journey by picking any T-shirt at your home or try on bedsheets, cushion covers, and curtains.

A styrofoam sheet/ cardboard sheet

A cardboard or styrofoam sheet which will be needed to separate the two layers of the cloth so that we don't stain the other layer while painting. Use a bigger sheet than your design to cover all the area
Other than brushes, paints, fabric, and styrofoam sheet, you will also need two to three containers of water, a piece of cloth or tissue for wiping off the extra paint from brushes, a separate iron, some extra dry brushes, a plastic sheet which will protect the surface from staining, and a plastic palette for mixing colors 
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Rosalie Galvez

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Rosalie Galvez
Joined: October 6th, 2020
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