Acrylic paint is highly versatile and often the go-to paint for a large number of diverse projects. It is pigment contained in an acrylic polymer, which can dye fabric when applied correctly.
Most homes have some acrylic paint leftover from previous projects, and you can find it is possible to use this paint on canvas, which is essentially a thick fabric. You may wonder then, can acrylic paint be used on fabric around the home and on items you can wear?
However, when you paint wearable art, you can find it cracks or peels unless it is applied in the right way.
In our guide, you can learn how to use acrylic paint on fabric, seal it for a permanent fix, and the paints to use and alternatives.
By the end, you’ll know enough to turn acrylic paint into your chosen material for your next fabric painting project. (Learn How To Clean Acrylic Nail Brushes)
How To Paint On Fabric Permanently
The quickest and most versatile way to paint on fabric permanently is with fabric medium. Using acrylic paint to manufacture permanent cloth has many benefits. Because acrylic paint is used, the DIY fabric paint colors are endless. It is also readily available in fabric stores and online. The possibilities of painting fabric from drapes to painting shoes are more straightforward than you may think.
What is a Fabric Medium?
Fabric medium helps acrylic paint adhere to the fabric. It improves your paint’s elasticity and adhesion. Unprimed canvases and textiles benefit from mixing, and you’ll find your fabric medium helps soften fabrics as the paint is applied.
In addition, when painting on cotton, poly-cotton blends, and other rough texture materials, such as fabric shoes, the paint becomes persistent when washed.
Fabric medium comprises water-based binders that make the paint workable on any fabric. The paint won’t break or flake from the fabric fibers as it seeps in and is locked in place. Fabric medium also helps pigments keep depth, so colors stay brilliant even after multiple washes.
Fabric Medium Benefits
Instead of using fabric medium, you could paint straight onto the fabric, but the outcome would be unappealing. Acrylic paint is too stiff to stay on natural materials; even spray-painted designs are rough.
Acrylic paint dries hard. Acrylic paint flakes or splits when bent or folded and may ultimately chip away when washed. It’s also simple to apply too thick, resulting in a poor finish.
Adding a fabric medium makes the acrylic paint more flexible, thinner, and softer.
Make Acrylic Paint Stay on Fabric
The fabric medium makes the painted surface softer and much less abrasive for the wearer, making it more pleasant. But, more crucially, the fabric medium keeps the acrylic paint from splitting, allowing it to stay on the fabric.
To guarantee that the acrylic paint stays on the cloth for as long as possible, wash it on the gentle cycle with a fabric softener in your washing machine and hang it to dry. Also, when washing darker textiles, use cold water.
Using these methods, you can use your DIY fabric paint on a variety of projects, including curtains, duvet covers, pillowcases, and wall art.
Can I Make Homemade Fabric Medium for Fabric Painting?
When you know does acrylic paint work on fabric without a medium? You may not have a medium on hand. However, you can make your own. Alternatives include vinegar and glycerine, which were used as a mordant in traditional cloth dyeing.
To add vinegar to acrylic paint, mix it with equal parts glycerine and water where it takes on the texture of oil paint. Then add the liquid into your acrylic paint until it reaches your desired consistency.
Making ink-like acrylic mediums from the vinegar is excellent and helpful in stamping a painted area on hats, bags, and some clothing.
You can use the homemade medium to thin paint to add it to a spray bottle so that you can use acrylic paint.
What is Fabric Paint?
Fabric paint is a medium designed specifically for painting on fabric. To make the fabric dye adhere to the cloth, it is combined with a binder. Fabric paint can be used on garments, fabrics, and canvases. Fabric paint does not necessitate the use of a fabric medium or the subsequent heating of the surface to seal the paint.
Fabric paint, on the other hand, is only for natural textiles. Acrylic paint is the better choice for painting synthetic cloth. (Learn How To Get Candle Wax Out Of Fabric)
What Type of Acrylic Paint is Best for Fabric?
Regular acrylic paint dries on fabric. Regular acrylic paint may break or peel without it.
You can also use fabric paint instead of fabric medium. To help the paint stick to the cloth, wipe it with medium-grit sandpaper or spritz it with water before painting. Wear protective clothing and paint in ventilated areas.
Here are the steps to apply acrylic fabric paint:
1: Select Fabric
The first step is to choose a fabric. Acrylic paint and acrylic medium can be used in natural or synthetic fabrics and consider texture and color.
A plain cloth helps paint colors stand out. Examine the fabric’s surface; because a rough surface may make painting more difficult. Close-woven cotton or silk creates the nicest hues.
2: Plan Your Design
Think about the design and what materials you may need because acrylic paint stains fabric and mistakes you make are permanent. Iron wrinkled fabric makes it easier to paint.
3: Prepare Fabric Paint
Add the medium to your acrylic paint just before painting. Check the medium’s label for proportions and directions. Some brands may vary yet follow the methods above to make your fabric medium. Mix until you have a thick acrylic paint that is smooth and has no lumps.
Skip this using fabric paint since most fabric paints don’t need to be mixed with a medium.
4: Paint in Layers
Begin filling in the background using acrylic paint and a paintbrush; paint thinner in multiple layers to form your pattern on your t-shirt or other fabric. Allow each layer of paint mixture to dry completely before adding another.
5: Allow to Dry
Allow lots of dry time for the wet fabric to dry. Acrylic paint is water-based, so it’s simple to wash off while you still have wet paint. Before washing, ensure your work is completely dry. If you’re using fabric paint or heat-set acrylic paint, let the fabric properly dry before use.
Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric
Heat-setting acrylic paint on fabric seals it. Heat is applied to the fabric for the process to function. The fabric paint absorbs more quickly into the textile fibers, and the paint seals to produce a protective surface. Only a pressing cloth and a dry iron are required.
If you use fabric paint, though, you won’t need to heat set the paint. The heat acts as a sealant for acrylic paint that has been mixed with fabric medium.
- On top of your painted design, place the pressing cloth. Make sure the cloth is completely covered with paint before flipping it over. This will prevent the color from melting onto your iron or ironing board.
- Preheat your iron to medium-high heat. For ten seconds, iron on top of your pressing cloth with a dry iron.
- For three to five minutes, iron until the paint is dry.
Soften Fabric After Painting
- Regular acrylic paints may leave a hard sensation on the fabric. Use gouache or fabric paint for a distinct texture.
- Alternatively, you can use a textile medium to mix with acrylic paint to avoid rough surfaces.
- Preparing acrylic paint for textile medium mixing is the same as above. Most fabric mediums require 1–2 parts acrylic paint.
- Mix medium mixture thoroughly before you apply. Ironing paints also help soften the painted fabric and make acrylic paint washable.
Care Tips for Acrylic Paint on Fabric
The acrylic paint can come off even when you heat-set acrylic paint colors on your painted fabric projects.
To help protect from natural wear and tear:
- Wash as little as possible as acrylic paint wash off in time
- Use cool water and hand-wash as much as possible
- Use the gentle cycle on your washing machine
- Air-dry acrylic paints and paint fabric and not use the dryer
- Avoid washing newly painted fabric for several days
- Iron the reverse side of your washable fabric paint using a low setting
Best Acrylic Paint for Fabric
The best acrylic paints to use come with fabric as the main use. Look for fabric on the list of surfaces for paint that will last longer. However, most acrylic paints should work when mixed with a suitable fabric medium.
Golden Fluid Acrylic
Golden Fluid acrylic paint offers ten-ounce-sized paint tubes. The professional-grade paints are great if you need to mix lots of colors.
Apple Barrel Paint
Apple Barrel is a trustworthy paint brand, and its set comes in 16 colors. The water-based paint has a high-shine finish for acrylic painting.
Apple Barrel paints have their pouring medium you can buy to make your acrylic paint permanent.
Arteza Fabric Paint
Arteza is another reputable paint brand. The fabric paint includes permanent fabric paint in 24 colors. The quick-drying formula sticks, but use an iron on the medium heat setting, and you get better results.