Welcome to Fabric Painting Week! I’ve been working hard to share some fun projects with you for the week. Be sure to go to the announcement page to see the week’s official schedule. To begin fabric painting, there are a few concepts that I want to share with you. Fabric painting isn’t rocket science, but the more that you know in advance, the fewer mistakes you’ll make along the way.
Tips for Doing it Right the First Time
1.Fabric paint is FABRIC paint. It’s not meant to be removed. If I make a mistake, it’s now a permanent part of the shirt/pillow/whatever I’m painting. This not only applies to painting mistakes, but it also means to be aware of everything that I’m doing when fabric painting. If I have paint on my hand and I begin to paint a shirt, there’s a good chance that I’ll get the paint on my shirt from my hand. So be aware of wet fabric paint at all times.
2. Clean hands frequently in between paint colors. This goes back to Tip #1. Cleaning hands helps make sure the paint reside is gone.
3. Do a quick sketch of the design prior to painting. When I am fabric painting, I will draw a sketch on a piece of paper. If I like it, I then use a pencil to lightly sketch on my fabric, as well. As long as I am painting over it, a light pencil mark works well.
Tips on Preparation
4. Always have cardboard on hand to place underneath the fabric. The paint will more than likely bleed through- especially the darker the color.
5. Lay out all materials beforehand- brushes, sponges, paint colors, stencils. Pre-organizing helps me stay focused.
Tips for Stenciling with Fabric Paint
6. Stencils can make fabric painting easier. To get the best look when stenciling, begin by applying the paint with a sponge to keep the paint from leaking out under the stencil.
7. After letting the first sponged coat dry, add a second coat with a brush for maximum coverage.
8. I own a die-cutting machine, so an awesome way to stencil is to cut out a shape with vinyl. The vinyl (removable kind) sticks to the fabric, doesn’t allow bleeding, and comes off easily.
9. Let paint dry for times listed on fabric paint bottle. Seriously.
10. Heat set the fabric paint to protect it in the washing machine. I’ve seen heat setting done one of two ways. a) Holding a hot iron over the painted section without touching the paint. This is especially effective for “Puffy” Paints (the three dimensional fabric paint). b) Turning the garment inside out and ironing over the fabric for five minutes or so. Wait at least 24 hours after painting to heat set. Last year I was able to try out a new iron that’s perfect for sewing and fabric projects. Check out the Hamilton Beach iron.
11. Play around with embellishments. I’ve added embroidery, bows, jewels, cloth, etc. to my fabric paint projects. It’s fun to experiment!
Are you looking for a few fabric paint projects to try? Check out the following:
great tips, and I really love that tie onsie! for what it’s worth
Kirsten @ One Tough Mother says
Excellent tips! Especially about heat setting – I never knew to do that! Thanks a bunch!
What fun! I’d love to do this with my son – he’d definitely enjoy this!
Renae C. says
Great idea! Your shirts all look so cute. I like the tip about stenciling. That is probably the only way I would be able to make this work for me! 😉
Great tips. I am sharing this with my sister who has two crafty little girls. I am lucky I can get my boys to wear clean clothes much less create their own..LOL
Thanks, great tips!
Love the ties, great idea. I have always wanted to give fabric painting a try. Thanks for the tips 🙂
Nicole Copeland says
I love the tie onsie super cute!
Kristen D says
Thanks so much for sharing these tips! I am absolutely addicted to making shirts with my boys 🙂
Great tips! I’m going to have to try out making shirts again!
Great tips! I almost ALWAYS forget to put a piece of cardboard in between the layers, it makes me so mad! Thanks for sharing 🙂
do you have to heat set it? or is it based on the brand of fabric paint
If it’s something that will be worn and washed, I recommend heat setting it.
Your tips were really helpful for my first fabric paining project. Thanks a lot.
You are very welcome! Glad to hear that it was successful! Feel free to share it on my FB page so that we can see it! 🙂
THIS IS THE BEST TIPS FOR FABRIC PAINTING. NOW I FEEL A NEW CONFIDANCE ABOUT THIS
Evelyn Burczyk says
Can I use fabric paint on felt?
Yes, you can use fabric paint on felt. Be aware that, because of the fibers on the felt surface, the paint may not look as smooth. Sometimes the paint brush or paint pen will pull up the felt fibers as you go along, and it can look a little less polished.
Chaeri Lee says
Hi! Could you recommend by any chance how much paint you would recommend to buy for a project with 150 shirts? Thank you !
Hi, what are you painting on the shirts? Something smaller or something large? Is this for a VBS or children’s camp?
I’d like to paint some golf flags that would remain outside. Nylon? Not cotton! Is there a brand of paint you recommend? Thank you
Hi, Walmart sells an outdoor permanent fabric paint that would work on golf flags. I also use Rustoleum paint a lot, and they make a fabric spray paint, as well.
Can you recommend what type of paint to use when painting hair bows or paint on ribbon ?
Hi! Are you using Grosgrain ribbon? The soft fabric paint or 3D fabric paint should work fine on Grosgrain. If you are using slick ribbon, I would try the soft fabric paint first, but I would test it to make sure that it is going to adhere well.
I bought some of these paint second hand and they’re real hard I can’t squeeze them out of the bottle I was wondering if this is how it’s supposed to be and how to thin them or just throw them away
No, they should not be hard to squeeze from the bottle. They should flow like regular paint. I’ve had some like these before and have just thrown them away. I have never tried to thin them.
I’ve been trying to heat set a design I made on a cotton shirt using fabric paint. The design sat for a week before I went to heat set it so it had plenty of time to dry. Before I went to heat set it I noticed the paint was still sticky feeling even though it had been sitting a week.
First I tried heat setting in the dryer on high for 30min. But when it was finished the paint was still sticky. I repeated the cycle and since then have also tried using an iron on high several times. After all of that my paint is still sticky! Why can I not heat set this!?
Hmmm…I’m not sure. I know that heat setting is picky and can be affected by the humidity of where you live, the type of material that you painted, the type/brand of fabric paint, and even the age of the fabric paint. I would check the FAQ page of the brand of paint that you used, and if it does not answer your question, then I would contact them directly via their contact page.
Thanks for the great article!
In regards to heat setting the fabric paint, do I need to wait for the paint to dry for the full 72 hours (as suggested on the paint bottle) before I do the heat setting with the iron?
Yes, I recommend waiting the full time before heat setting.
Thanks for this post, great tips! 🙂 I have questions though 🙂 The paint that I have doesn’t say how long I have to wait before it dries 🙁 how long do it usually take? Also, can you heat set with a hair dryer instead of an iron? I can’t turn my fabric inside out and I’m scared to burn it if I just hold an iron close to it lol Hope you can answer my questions. Thanks again for your tips 🙂
I usually let mine dry for 24 hours. I have never tried to heat set with a hair dryer, although it would probably work for an item that is not going to be washed.
You can still heat set it with an iron by placing a piece of paper or another piece of fabric over the design. This way the heat will transfer but without touching the design itself. 🙂
P Greenwood says
I have some Reeves craft dye and want to paint on cotton. How can I stop it bleeding? Want to do some lettering and cannot get a clean edge.
I am not familiar with Reeves craft dye. Is it like the medium used for tie dye shirts? If so, I’m not sure how to keep it from bleeding. I typically only use fabric paint because it is easier to keep contained.
Joy Butler says
Uh oh, am in trouble! Hahaha I tried it in one of my favorite shirts and it got sticky. Maybe I was doing it wrong, I will just work on it again!
How well does your 3D paint hold up in the dryer? I didn’t know that I couldn’t heat set my painted jacket with an iron once I applied dimensional paint. I don’t know how long to wait before putting it in the dryer though, as the bottle has no information.
Hi, it has held up well so far. But most of the pieces I make are seasonal and are not worn/washed/dried a ton.
Realize this is an old posting however if you place parchment paper over the design when heat setting (its the type you use when baking to line cookie sheets etc. ) perhaps it might be a solution.