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Fabric Paint

fabric paint

Articles on Fabric Paint


Fabric Paint Basics

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Fabric painting is one of today's most popular hobbies in South Africa one reason being that it is both creative and a great stress reliever. fabric painting is also one of the quickest and most effective ways to re-decorate your house will little expense.

Requirements for getting started with Fabric Painting


100% natural fibers should be used, pure cotton, bleached or unbleached calico, wool, silk or viscose.

It is very important that the material be pre-washed in hot water and then dried and ironed before painting. The reason for this is that all fabric is pre-treated with starch to enhance its appearance and to make it appear crease-resistant This layer of starch prevents the paint from penetrating the fibers of the material, with the result that the paint could in fact be washed off after the first wash, leaving the product looking worn and washed out. Fabric painting is mainly done on white or off-white material.

Fabric Paint

Fabric paint is available in nearly every color imaginable. Ordinary fabric paint is also known as textile screen-printing ink. It is water-based and is quite transparent. You can use the basic colours very well on light coloured cloth, but remember that darker coloured cloth will hide the fabric paint. The colour of your cloth will have an effect on the colour you will get when being painted on. refer to our colour wheel for more on mixing colours.


Extender, also known as cut clear, is a colorless emulsion that forms the base of all fabric paints. A layer of extender forms a food base when shading is required.

Mixing of colours

In order to lighten colours use the clear extender base. This must be mixed in sufficient proportion to achieve the desired colour. Add colour to the base - not vice versa. The more base you use, the lighter the colour. Clear extender base cannot be used on its own to create a white colour. The background colour of the material will provide your lightest colour.


It would be wise to acquire a couple of brushes of different shapes and sizes, the project you are doing will determine the size of brush needed. Invest in good quality brushes, the cheaper ones tend to lose their bristles. Hog-hair brushes are the most suitable brushes for fabric painting because their bristles are straight and firm.
Before you start painting, run your finger over the bristles a couple of times to rid of the starch as well as any loose bristles.
Flat hog-hair brushes are the ones most commonly used for fabric painting. They are especially suitable for painting straight lines.
These brushes can be turned sideways to paint in small areas.
A couple of round hog-hair brushes are used to paint small detail.
Brushes made of sable hair are especially recommended for this purpose.
Stencil brushes are round hog-hair brushes with cropped bristles and a high bristle density, which makes them especially suitable for stenciling.
They are also available in various sizes.
Sponge applicators, fabric paint rollers and high-density sponges are also available in different sizes. They paint very evenly and are therefore very useful for painting backgrounds and borders. Any of these can also be used to pick up any excess paint from a still wet painted surface.


Always keep a bucket of cold, soapy water handy while painting. All dirty rollers, sponges, etc. (with the exception of brushes) can be put in the bucket once they have been used to prevent the paint from drying on them. They could then all be washed simultaneously afterwards. A small container full of water, with a lid that seals tightly (e.g. an empty jam jar) should be kept close by for cleaning the brushes. A wet brush will cause the paint to bleed. Brushes should never be left standing in the water, because water will then be drawn up behind the aluminum band and one would not be able to dry the brush properly. Always keep the lid on the container when not in use, because a container of water accidentally knocked over could have catastrophic results.

Masking tape

Masking tape is useful for forming borders or square areas on the projects. Blank off the area where no paint is required and make sure that the tape is pressed down well to stop any paint from getting under the tape.

Paper towels

Paper towels or any other absorbent paper can be used to clean work surfaces, wipe hands, dry brushes of clean up excess paint or extender.


Proper after-care is probably the most important part of any fabric-painting project that is undertaken.

Heat setting

The finished project should always be left for a couple of days to dry completely before heat setting. There are a number of ways to do this, such as:

Tumble dry the cloth for at least 45 minutes on high heat.
Press the cloth, using an electronic press iron for 2 min.
Fold the fabric with the painted side inwards, place in oven on a baking tray and heat to 140 C. Bake for 10 minutes, turn off the oven and leave fabric in the oven for 30 minutes to cool off.
When making your design always paint a sample piece on material with the same paint in order to carry out a wash test. This sample should b cured and then washed to establish colour and wash fastness.

Washing And Ironing

Since dirt does not readily penetrate fabric-painted articles but only really attaches itself to the surface, it is usually only necessary to rinse the article in luke-warm soapy water and then with clean water. Do not use strong detergents or bleaches to wash fabric-painted articles as the colours will fade and the product will look washed out.

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