Painting On Fabric

Painting on Fabric

I had a bit of trouble finding information on this when I wanted to start painting on some of the things I make so I decided to put this together.

This may not be the best way, but it works for me!

The painting in this demonstration was done for a very nice lady who has asked me to make a linen change purse with painted pansies.

I tend to paint mostly on linen, so the brushes and thickness of the paint I use is geared toward that fabric.  Other fabrics would most likely require changes to this approach.

I mostly use regular craft paint mixed with a fabric medium.  The medium I use is Martha Stewart Tintable Fabric Medium.  It comes in a good sized container and lasts me a while.

The paint I use is either regular craft acrylic paint, or Martha Stewart Mulit-Surface craft paint.  Now the Martha Stewart paint says it is able to be used on fabric - but I mix the fabric medium in with it anyway.  I need to thin the paint and figure I might as well use that to do so.

The brush I use is small, pointed and has short, soft,  but tight bristles.  I find this best for moving across the fabric.

I also use Fabric Paint pens for a little more sketching and for details at the end.

So here is a list of the supplies I use:

Martha Stewart Tintable Fabric Medium
Tray, small cap, or something to put the fabric medium in
Acrylic Craft Paint
Fabric Paint Pens (I use Marvy Ball & Brush Fabric Pens)
Brushes (my favorite: 10/0 Loew Cornell Round CN)
Water (for rinsing brush)
Paper Towels
Dark Thin Marker
Aluminum Foil (or a proper palette!)
Fabric (I am using Linen in this demonstration)

Sometimes - depending on what I am painting, I can skip the sketching all together and go directly to painting - but on this item, I wanted to make sure I had the placement just so, and I wanted to show the design to the purchaser before I began.
how to paint on fabric

After I have it the way I like, I go over the sketched lines with a dark marker:

Then, I place my fabric (cut to almost the right size) centered over the drawing and very lightly sketch in a general idea of the picture. 

Tip:  If you don't have a light table (like me) I use the back door! - It has a glass window where the sun comes in - I hold the drawing and paper against the window with one hand, and sketch with the other - not perfect, but it works!)

You may have to look close, I just lightly sketch on the fabric!

Okay, now I start to paint:

You can see in the picture I have some of my first paint colors out on my "palette" (hey - it works!) and I have a small tray with some fabric medium in it. I thin my paint down with the fabric medium, load up my brush, and using small strokes, begin to paint in the flowers..

You will have to keep experimenting to get the right consistency of the paint for the fabric you are working on. You don't want it too thin or will spread on the fabric. Too thick and it won't move.  I just mix the medium and paint on my palette till it feels right.

Tip:  I use small strokes and find it best to put down a base color over a small area (in this case one petal at a time) and add shading to it as I go. The paint dries fast!  Small strokes work best as the brush tends to not want to glide across the fabric easily.

I keep moving from one area out and sketch in more details if needed with a paint pen.

painting on fabric

I keep painting till the whole design is filled in:

When that is done, I fill in the details with paint pens. I also like to highlight at this point with bright whites and darks as they stand out nice now that the paint has mostly dried:

painting on fabric
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Now that it is done, you have to heat set it with an iron.  The instructions on the back of the fabric medium says to let it air dry for 24 hours before heat setting, but I usually just wait till it is thoroughly dry and then just go ahead and iron it.

I put a clean piece of fabric on my ironing board, and then place the painted piece upside down on top of it.  I iron with no steam on the back side of the piece first, then I iron directly over the front of the piece as well.  It works fine and I have not had a problem.

At this point, the painted fabric is ready for whatever you intend to do with it.  In this case I made it into a cute change purse:
painting on fabric

I hope this helps you. Like I said, this demonstration was meant to only help someone who was trying to figure out how to paint on fabric. This technique has worked for me and I find it to be easy to do, and easy to repeat.

Have fun painting!