How Acrylic Inks Work Best for Writing on Fabric

Artist Susan Brubaker Knapp is known for her beautifully detailed quilts accomplished by painting on fabric and thread sketching.

Susan Brubaker Knapp uses acrylic inks for writing on fabric, because they can achieve a finer line than textile paints.

But when she wanted to add quotes to her quilts, she found fabric paints too heavy for writing on fabric, especially to achieve the fine lines and small printing she desired.

Instead she turned to acrylic inks.

Acrylic inks are actually extremely fluid acrylic paints. Unlike dye-based inks, pigment-based acrylic inks are water-resistant and more resistant to fading.

They can be diluted to achieve watercolor effects and are fluid enough to be used in airbrushes, technical pens, and calligraphy pens. Colors can be mixed together to produce custom colors.

Here are some of Susan’s tips for using acrylic inks on fabric, from the June/July 2015 issue of Quilting Arts :

1. Look for lightweight 100% cotton cloth with a high thread count.

2. Do not wash the fabric, as the sizing helps make the surface smoother for writing.

3. Test the ink on a small piece of the fabric you want to use before starting. If the fabric is pulling or stretching, use a hot iron to press freezer paper to the back to stabilize the fabric.

4. Don’t overload the ink in the pen.

5. Use a light hand to write. Even on a smooth fabric surface, the pen will catch the fibers and can splatter.

Susan offers more tips and instructions on adding quotes to your quilts with acrylic inks in her article. If you subscribe to Quilting Arts, be sure to check it out. If you don’t subscribe, now is the perfect time to sign up.

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Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

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