Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric? (DIY Guide)

by Katie Williams
Drawing on clothes

So you have decided you want to do a DIY project and want to paint on cloth material. Luckily, this can be easily achieved by using the most readily available paints – acrylic. Acrylic paint has to be one of the most versatile mediums for any kind of surface – walls, canvas, wood – there is nothing it does not stay on.

If you are wondering if you can use acrylic paint on fabric, then the answer is yes, and it works perfectly on clothing. In fact, if you accidentally get some on your attire, it might stay on your cloth forever. Ironically, if it’s a print you are trying to make on a garment, you would require to take extra steps to make the paint stay.

Things can really be difficult when making something so permanent. Hence, we have put together this article to let you know everything about painting on fabric.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric?

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular mediums for painting and is ideal to paint on any surface. They can be very well used on fabric as well, but mixed with some sort of medium to lessen its strength. Acrylic dries quickly and when it does, it makes the surface very hard.

Although it stays forever, you would not want your material to be awkwardly stiff on the painted parts. Being too hard, the paint can also start to crack and overall ruin your art. Hence, while you can technically use acrylic paints on fabric, it would be much better to add a medium to soften up the paint.

Are Acrylic Paints Permanent On Fabric?

It is very easy for acrylic paints to stick on a thin surface like fabric. So yes, acrylic paints are permanent on fabric. As mentioned before, this paint can harden and crack over time, but there is a way to make them permanent on the fabric without these issues.

Following is a step-by-step guide on how to use a medium for making the acrylic color more like fabric paint and how to make it last longer on your fabric. Before you start painting, you might want to wash and dry your fabric.

Choose Your Fabric

For your work to come out beautifully, you need to select the correct kind of fabric. Some enhance the design while others can overlap it. Both synthetic and natural fibers work well, but you should keep in mind the color and texture as well. Plain fabrics with a soft surface work the best as it makes the job easier and the colors pop.

The best kind of fabric to use for acrylic painting is cotton or silk which has a tight weave and will have a lesser chance of leaking.

Sketch The Design

After selecting the design, the next step is to sketch it out on the shirt. As said before, acrylic paint stays on fabric forever, even if hard. Hence, you need to draw the design with a more degradable medium. For lighter colors, a pencil shall do just fine.

However, with darker colors and for easier marking on fabric, you can also use chalks.

Acrylic Paint On Fabric

Prepare The Fabric Paint

The next step is to turn the acrylic paint into a fabric-friendly substance. This can be done by mixing a fabric medium and acrylic paint together in the ratio of 1:2 respectively or whatever amount the medium has instructed. You have to mix the two together until there are no lumps and you can see the color you want.

If you are mixing two paints or more to get the color you want, do it before you add the medium.

Paint Along The Design

After the paint is prepared and the design has been laid out, you can start painting over the design using a brush. The process can be long and may require more than one layer to come out vibrant and complete, so you will have to paint and then wait for the layer to dry before you add another.

For painting with blocks or wood prints, you can pour some of your fabric paint into a flat surface and use it as a stamp pad.

Dry Your Paint

When the whole process is finished, keep your fabric aside in an open and well-ventilated area. Make sure it dries up completely before you wash it as acrylic paint is removable by water when it is still wet. You can also air dry it and run a hair dryer along it to heat set the design for longevity.

Can You Use Acrylic Instead Of Fabric Paint?

Fabric paint can be used to decorate anything like clothes, fabrics, and canvases. This paint can be used to seal the paint without heating the surface or utilizing a fabric medium. Natural fiber paint is the only kind of fabric paint. Acrylic paint works better on synthetic cloth than on canvas.

Acrylic paints can be used instead of fabric paint, both are good choices, however, acrylic paints provide more versatility as there are many different colors to choose from– just mix a fabric medium into the acrylic color of your choice and you are ready to paint your favorite T-shirt.

Also check: Can You Spray Paint Stainless Steel?(6 Steps DIY Guide)

How Do You Keep Acrylic Paint On Fabric?

Although a medium is required to set acrylic paint on fabric from cracking, you can make it stay directly through the following method of pressing cloth on a dry iron. This method is called heat-setting and provides a protective finish to your artwork. Remember that this is only for acrylic paint and not the fabric-mixed medium.

Step 1:

Lay out your painted fabric and then put a pressing cloth on top of it. Cover it properly so that it covers the whole design and flip it upside down so that the color does not leak into the surface you have put it on.

Step 2:

Put the heat on the iron in a medium setting and allow the iron to heat up before putting it on the pressing cloth. Let it dry for ten seconds and then iron out the shirt and hold it for slightly long before moving over to do so in other places. Continue the process 3-5 times before your paint has completely set. Do not touch until dried.

Can I Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric Without A Medium?

Acrylic paint on fabric that has been mixed with the medium will dry to be fairly flexible. Without a medium, acrylic paint on the fabric would dry rigidly and scratchy. You can use acrylic paint on fabric without a medium, but you should always use a medium when painting on clothing, such as a t-shirt because fabric medium thins the paint and makes it comfortable to wear.

Acrylic paints are also insoluble and flexible after drying, in contrast to oils, which are considerably more brittle. Due to their versatility, acrylics are still in use today. It can be diluted with water to make it more transparent or with a medium to make it more opaque.

It is advised to use a fabric medium with acrylic colors as the end result of the fabric will be far better than the crusty result you might get if a medium is not used. Fabric mediums make the fabric more flexible after

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Fabric And Washed?

To give your painted fabric a lovely, soft feel, mix Fabric Medium, an acrylic polymer liquid mixture without pigments, with your acrylic paints. Once the paint has dried, the fabric is simply washable by hand or machine.

The use and flow of your acrylic paint when applied to the cloth will be improved once the fabric medium and acrylic paint have been combined. The major components of fabric medium are water-based binders, which increase the flexibility and workability of your paint regardless of the cloth you employ.

On the majority of fabric types, it will effortlessly interlock between the threads to create a web of paint that won’t crack or flake off. Additionally, fabric medium aids in maintaining the depth of pigments so you may continue to enjoy the same brilliant colors after multiple washes.

Can You Use Normal Paint On Fabric?

Normal paints like poster paints or watercolors that are used on paper or canvases cannot be used on fabrics as they won’t stick to the material of the fabric.

Typically, acrylic fabric paint is the best option. The most often used component in fabric paint, usually referred to as textile paint, is an acrylic polymer.

Acrylic is a long-lasting paint that can be applied frequently, more than once, in direct sunlight, since it is bonded with a pigment and then emulsified. The kind of paints you can employ will depend on the outcomes you’re going for and the fabric’s fiber content that you plan to paint on.

If you want the cloth to have the same texture after the color has been applied as it did before then using steam-set dyes and a resist method for color control will probably be your best option. However, this technique is limited to natural fibers that include proteins. It should be natural silk.

Regular acrylic fabric paints or puff paints from a craft store work well if you don’t mind the fabric becoming stiffer and harder than it was before the paint was applied.

Does Acrylic Paint Stay On The Fabric After Washing?

If you catch acrylic paint on clothing while it’s still wet or before exposure to heat, it won’t stay there forever. The acrylic paint will heat up after washing and drying and it can be quite challenging to remove.

Acrylic paint is not waterproof until a specific sealant is placed on top of it, despite the fact that it is water-resistant when dry and won’t wash out of fabric easily. In an acrylic polymer emulsion, pigment is suspended in acrylic paint.

Despite the fact that the paint is essentially plastic, when it is wet it is water-soluble and doesn’t turn plasticky and water-resistant until it dries. Additionally, it dries really fast.

For work on fabric or other types of surfaces, it is best to use a fabric medium for acrylic paint that will permanently stick to the fabric. Furthermore, regardless of whether the fabric is cotton, a poly-cotton blend, or another material, it permanently alters the fabric after washing.

Fabrics can be painted with acrylic paint, but you’ll need to combine your paint colors with textile paint or acrylic medium. Expect it to work because the fabric cannot be painted with conventional acrylic paint without the medium. Depending on the type of paint used, the drying time for acrylic paint on fabric will vary.

It becomes durable when acrylic paint and fabric medium are permanently combined. Although acrylic paint dries quickly and is waterproof, if applied alone, it may peel or split. As long as the clothing is made of a fabric medium, the paint will remain on it forever.

What Do You Mix With Acrylic Paint For Fabric?

Although acrylic paint is quite adaptable, there are a few things to keep in mind if you wish to use it on cloth. For starters, although it can be used on a variety of flat surfaces, it is not flexible enough to adhere to the fabric.

The simplest and most flexible way to paint permanently on cloth is to mix fabric medium with any color of acrylic paint. Making permanent fabric with acrylic paint has a number of benefits. There are many colors available for DIY fabric paint because acrylic paint is used.

Use fabric medium to make acrylic paint permanent on the fabric while working with any type of acrylic paint. One benefit is that it enhances the paint’s elasticity and adherence to the fabric. On all textiles and unprimed canvases, it also improves blending and workability.

Even when the paint is applied, the fabric is made softer by the fabric medium, no matter if you’re painting on cotton fabrics, poly-cotton blends, or other fabric types, it makes the painted fabric persistent after washing.

Here are reasons why it is the best option to use Fabric Medium:

  • The Fabric Medium aids in preventing color bleed when your paint is thinned with water.
  • When painting on fabric, it can also create watercolor effects and help the paint penetrate and adhere to the fabric more effectively. The artists will have much more versatility when painting on fabrics as a result.
  • There are more options of colors with the Fabric Medium. In addition to brushing and painting, you can also utilize a variety of additional painting techniques.
  • Many artists use fabric mediums to airbrush their fabrics after thinning their colors with a little water first. Since textile paints don’t offer a wide range of colors, employing fabric medium will give you an infinite number of acrylic paint color options.

Related Questions

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric Without A Medium?

Technically, it is possible to use acrylic paint on fabric without using a medium, but without the latter, the paint will be hard when it dries up and make the painted parts of the shirt stiff.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Canvas Fabric?

Yes, acrylic paint is usable on canvas fabric and is in fact, the most popular and preferred medium to paint on canvas.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Cotton Fabric?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on cotton fabric as we have explained in the article. It stays on clothing permanently.

Final Thoughts

Painting on fabric to upgrade, refurbish or decorate clothes is a great way to recycle and is a good step toward sustainable fashion. Art also should be encouraged in all ways as a recreational interest. Hence, we hope that this article has helped make your job of using acrylic paint on fabric much easier.

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