Fabric Painting: An Easy DIY Technique

8 Oct 2012

Fabric painting is a fun way to create your own distinctive fabrics for quilting and mixed-media fiber art.

fabric painting how to
In the 2011/12 issue of International Quilt Festival/Quilt Scene, Bonita Rose Kempenich showed this very easy technique for how to paint fabric. If you do any kind of surface design or mixed-media art, you probably already have most of the supplies you need.

DIY Fabric Design


  • Natural or white muslin, or canvas/duck cloth (such as 200 thread count muslin)
  • Rotary cutter, ruler, and mat
  • Canvas drop cloth
  • Plastic paint palette
  • Artists' paintbrushes
  • Liquitex® acrylic inks in assorted colors
  • Newsprint
  • Iron and ironing surface


  • Tulip® fabric paints
  • Self-adhesive craft foam sheets
  • Foam stamps
  • Acrylic paints, assorted colors


1. Measure and cut the muslin or canvas to your preferred working size. (Pieces that range from a fat quarter up to a yard are easy to work with.)

2. Cover your work surface with a canvas drop cloth and place your fabric on top to begin painting.

3. Using the plastic painter's palette, select your acrylic ink colors and add a few drops in each well.

how to paint on fabric
4. Wet your brush in clean water, then dip it into the ink and start to play. You can draw flowers, circles, geometric shapes-anything goes, even writing on fabric.

5. When the color starts to fade, dip your brush back into the ink and continue to create. Repeat this process with as many different colors of ink as you like.

6. When you've finished designing your fabric, let it dry. Once dry, place some newsprint on your ironing board and place your painted fabric facedown. Using a low heat, iron the back side of your fabric, making sure the ink doesn't get on your ironing board and is caught on the newsprint instead. Press flat.

Note: If you are creating a piece that isn't to be worn or washed, and is just a mixed-media piece, feel free to use acrylic paints or fabric paints in addition to the ink.

You could use this technique for painting on fabric in any number of ways, from creating your own quilting fabric to designing fabric for home décor, accessories, and items like journal covers.

There are many quick and easy techniques and projects like this one in the pages of International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene. They are as varied as quilters and quilt projects and products you see if you were actually on the quilt show floor.

If you've missed our previous issues, Quilt Scenes from 2009-2011 are available in an economical and space-saving collection CD you can download now.

P.S. What do you think of this technique? Have you tried something similar? How did it come out? Leave your comments below.

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Gloria E wrote
on 9 Oct 2012 2:38 PM

Great tut!  I didn't know that Liquitex made fabric ink.  I use another brand of fab ink, but I want to try the Liquitex ink now too. Thank you.

on 9 Oct 2012 6:10 PM

I love painting fabrics - especially with my grandkids!  I've found that the paint stays better when you prewash the fabric and remove the sizing and finish first, then iron.  Using freezer paper ironed to the  back  helps to keep it still while painting.  

on 13 Oct 2012 7:28 AM

Done this way the fabric will be one of its kind and very exclusive. I will definitely try this soon.

on 13 Oct 2012 1:46 PM

I just finished painting a piece of muslin with Stewart Gil and Lumiere acrylics mixed 50/50 with Liquitex fabric medium. It was awesome.  I used the fabric to make a ten inch diameter stuffed pumpkin.  I always wear surgical gloves when I paint because I seem to need to get my hands right in to manipulate the paint.  I love to paint my own fabrics to get just the look I want for my art.

Thank for the tips,


gailllc wrote
on 21 Oct 2012 1:06 AM

I think I just found the final reason I need to go ahead and splurge on some Liquitex acrylic ink!