Painting on Fabric: How to Choose the Right Paint

1813-3_Brubaker-Knapp_600Painting on fabric is a great surface design technique to use when making gifts for friends and family. With paint it’s easy to personalize gifts that are handmade or even store bought. Try painting a small symbol, motif, or monogram to create a quick and easy custom present the recipient is sure to love.

If you’ve ever dabbled with painting on fabric, you know there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the right paint for your project. To help us navigate through the different brands and types of paint, Susan Brubaker Knapp has these tips to share:

  • Regular acrylic paints can be used on fabric with the addition of fabric medium.
  • Fabric acrylic paints or textile paints have ingredients in them that allow them to become permanent on fabric. After heat setting (follow the manufacturer’s instructions) most are even washable.
  • Extender (also called base extender) is what paint is made of before pigment is added to it. Extender can be mixed with paint to obtain a more sheer and lighter value. If I want a lighter or pastel shade of a paint color but want it to retain its opaque quality, I’ll add white paint instead of extender.
  • There are opaque paints and there are transparent paints. The difference between them is kind of like the difference between tights and pantyhose. One offers more coverage than the other.
  • I like to use transparent paint for realism—like a natural subject. The color looks more realistic to me.
  • Metallic or pearlescent paints have mica chips and other ingredients that give them sparkle and shine. These paints are usually opaque.
  • To darken a color, add in a dot of its color compliment. For example, if you want a darker red, add a little green to it. This usually works better than adding black. Try it!

Susan shares this advice and more as the host of Quilting Arts TV Series 1800. Learn new techniques and tips from Susan and her many guests when you purchase your copy of Quilting Arts TV Series 1800. Or download the Quilting Arts TV 1800 Bonus Collection which includes each episode along with the companion eBook featuring projects from this season. You’re sure to be inspired!

Happy painting and quilting!

Brenna's Signature

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog, Surface Design