What paint, ink,dye or colored pencils to use?

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crashnquilt wrote
on 2 May 2009 8:11 AM

So many quilters are adding lots of colors to their quilts with inks, dyes and colored pencils.  I need to know what brand or type to buy.  Also, which is better to use inks or fabric markers?  What type or brand of pencils?  How to use them?  If you use these can you still wash the quilt?  Any help with this is appreciated.

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Posts 78
on 2 May 2009 8:14 AM

I've just discovered the Tsukineko inks (I know they have them at the QA store)--the really rad thing about these are the little fantastix pens that you can use to dip in the fabric ink. They're like these really juicy little markers. You can actually paint on fabric as if you were drawing with pens. I love them! Heat set they are washable, though I haven't done that yet.

I use a lot of Shiva Paintsticks on my fabric and also just generally any Jacquard fabric/textile paint works great. They each have a different use, from dying to direct painting.

Art. Just Do It.

Blog: ephemeralalchemy.blogspot.com

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Posts 26
on 2 May 2009 3:54 PM

I use Lumiere paints, Jacquard paints, Setacolour paints....

I use Shiva painstiks, Stampin' Up watercolour wonder crayons, Fabrico markers.

Dyes - I don't recall the brand (brain in overload today!).

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Muppin wrote
on 2 May 2009 8:17 PM

Hi crashnquilt!  (I love your username)

I have a friend who just made a wholecloth mini quilt with Neocolor Water Soluble wax pastels.  I'll ask her how she fixed the colors.  It's an art quilt, not meant to be washed, but I am pretty sure it was heat set somehow just to set the colors on the fabric.  I'll try to find out!

Cheryl / Muppin


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Posts 53
Maria Elkins wrote
on 3 May 2009 3:35 AM

If you're new at adding color to your quilts, I recommend you start with the things you're most familiar with and work from there. For most people, that might mean just starting with regular Crayola crayons or colored pencils (Prismacolor are great). Surprisingly, crayons are fairly washable if they are heat set. Colored pencils need a very light coat of gel medium over the top to make them water resistant. But, if you're making a quilt that will be a wall hanging, you don't really need them to be washable. Practice making a variety of marks, thick and thin, dark and light, etc.

Pentel makes some pastel dye sticks specifically for fabric (http://tinyurl.com/c3sa7r). They are easy to use. They're softer and more vibrant that crayons. I've done used them with kids. The color choice is limited, however, only 15 colors.

After you're comfortable with crayons and colored pencils, try markers. Sakura's Pigma Micron pens give one look. Tsukineko's Fabrico markers are thicker and, if you have a very light touch, you can do some gradations. Markers are nice to use because you can get intense colors without a lot of mess. Markers are washable but they seem to fade with time.

Once you've tried dry mediums, try fabric paints (Jacquard textile paint or Setacolor). After that, try Tsukineko All Purpose inks. Paints are a little easier to control that inks, but the inks are transparent and don't add any heaviness to the fabric. Both paints and inks are washable, so they are good choices for quilts that will be washed. You can paint with dye too, but that requires specialized chemicals and is pretty complicated in my opinion.

BTW, it sometimes helps to stabilize your fabric first by ironing freezer paper to the backside of your fabric. Don't starch your fabrics first because the starch can act as a resist and keep your chosen medium from making good contact with the fibers.

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Posts 350
on 3 May 2009 6:32 AM

I am one of those art quilters that rarely ever washes her quilts.  I usually display them somewhere. I have created a few pieces that get washed. In those cases, I buy fabric paints and markers that specifically say that they are permanent when heat set.  Jacquard is one brand that comes to mind.  Most acrylics are water based and will wash out when put in the wash even when heat set.  Adirondack color wash sprays are the only exception that I know of. I use the Color Wash to dye my muslin.  The colors does fade when washed and heat set. That is the look I am going for though.

If you are not going to wash your quilts, I can tell you some markers and inks to use. I use the Sakura gel pens.  Sharpie poster paint paints work great too. Sharpie is about to discontinue that line soon.  Clearsnap just put out a line of inks called Smooch that looks like nail polish. They work great on fabric.  The brush does not smoosh down after repeated use.  Adirondack has a line called Color Wash that is a great for dyeing fabric.  I do tie dye with it all the time with muslin.

Here is a blog post on how to dye muslin using the Color Wash:


If you plan to wash the muslin at a later date, you need to completely wash out the color wash, which is too faded for me and then heat set according to manufacturere's directions. 

Belinda aka crazyartgirl

Blog:  http://alteredbelly.blogspot.com/

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Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 3 May 2009 8:51 AM

I have used a number of these products all these ladies are talking about with great success. I also like Faber castel watercolour pencil crayons. You can use them dry or wet depending on the effect you want. I know Lee Valley in Canada carries them but I would assume you can also get them at any art store.

Portfolio series oil pastels for wet or dry work are also great and lyra water-soluble artists' crayons are also great.

As for washability of all of these.... not too sure because I tend not to wash my work. However, when I surface design I like to work on wet fabric so the colour flow and as long as I heat set between colours I don't find these products wash out at all or lose their intensity.

Hope this helps.


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Posts 139
reginabdunn wrote
on 3 May 2009 7:07 PM

My husband bought me a paint set called Travel Paint Studio. It has a variety of Jacquard paints. What I really like about it is that it has all the different types of paint. One type is called Dye-na -flow, which behaves like dye. It is has a transparency of a dye. Another type is called Textile and it also is transparent and is can be used for sun printing. Another one is Neopaque which is opaque, and another one is called Lumiere which has metallic specks in it. If you want to get into fabric paint you could buy a little of each of these types so that you can compare how they work. When I paint, I usually use all 4 types in whatever project I'm working on. I took a 3-day workshop on dyeing fabric and learned some great techniques and came away from it with gorgeuous pieces of fabric that I had dyed. But I have a very small house and don't want to get into messing with the toxic powders of the dyes at home. So I paint instead.

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Posts 63
Barbm12 wrote
on 6 May 2009 5:04 PM

I have to tell you that since CHA show I have been using the Earth Safe Finishes system, way cool.  I thought I was in love with Lumieres for metallics until I tried their Shimmers, OMG!  Take Lumieres up 3 notches!  Then playing with the products found the Colorants for dyeing could be added to the paints and Lumieres!  WOW!  Now with a couple non-toxic products I can dye, paint and add metallic glisten!  Where once I literally had hundreds of bottles of this and that I can now have one bin of ESF!  Hey, I at one time worked for some of the major players and have boxes and boxes of products to donate since I found this I want to use nothing else.


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Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 7 May 2009 7:25 AM

Hi Barbara. What are ESF Shimmers? Are they an acrylic paint, dye or something else? Do they change the hand of the fabric? You say they are non-toxic.... in what way. I am always looking for something new to try. I really like my Lumieres but usually water them down quite a bit to keep the hand of the fabric soft and add a nice soft metallic shine to my quilts.

I am very interested to know more. Do they have a website? I too try to keep my artwork as non-toxic as possible when it come to paints and dyes.


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Posts 63
Barbm12 wrote
on 7 May 2009 3:39 PM

Hi Jody!

Honestly I am not sure what Shimmers are aside from gorgeous.  Since they are non-toxic and no VOC I would assume they are acrylic.  They are gel like and the richest metallic I have ever seen, a little goes a long ways.  They do change the hand some if you "paint" them on, liek Lumieres.  I press from the backside and that seems to take of most of it.  Because they are so metallic thinning them works well too and changes the hand even less.  Earth Safe Finishes also has Colorants which you can use on their own or tint the Shimmers.  They are pure pigments so can be used as a paint, ink or dye.  So you can dye or overdye then make a matching Shimmer if you want.  I am cheap at times and these go forever.  I have some photos and such on my blog.  I have not spent enough time here to figure out how or where to post photos and such.  blog is: http://craftgate.com/blog/BarbaraMatthiessen

It appears that the ESF site is being updated since some of the old pages are up now.  One time I clicked and it said something about a new site 05-30 or something like that.  You can try www.earthsafefinishes.com

I can try to get more info.


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Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 8 May 2009 6:13 PM

Thanks Barbara, I will take a look at your blog and try to link to the website. This product sounds like somethin I would like to try.

The info you provided is great. I'll let you know what I think when I check it out.




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Posts 156
Whidbey2 wrote
on 11 May 2009 2:17 PM

In the mid 80s I used regular delta acrylics with JoSonia textile mediums to paint sweatshirts.  They have all been washed by many people many times and they are still as vibrant as ever but the shirts them selves are a bit warn. I also used Pigma pens back then even over the paint all still there.

Now I use Tsunkenko inks and aloe vera gel even on silk and seems to wash just fine.  I did baby quilts that still have smiling faces on them and have been washed alot. and it is soft too.  No matter what the medium I use the white seems to wash off.  The best so far is Gelli Roll pens in white.

Happy creativity


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Posts 16
mtnjohn wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 8:17 PM

Being totally new to this part of the art worl my question is liable to seem quite elementary (possibly dumb).  I have read in books and in the QA magazine about "gel medium".  I have seen it used on the QA TV show.  When I search for this item on such vendor web sites as Dharma and *** Blick I get no results.  Is there another term for this item?  It appears to be used as either a coating or a sealant.  Where might I find a definition that might explain its purpose?

Thank you,


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Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 8:52 PM

Hi John,

Gel Medium is a product used by painters to extend acrylic paints and slows the drying time of the product. You can find it at Michaels or I would think any art store that carrying acrylic paints. It comes in matte to gloss and the brand I have is by Liquitex.

I have used it in a very limited capacity, so I can't really comment too much on what other are using it for. I have used it to stick pieces of fabric onto a canvas and to seal some photo transfers on my fabric. Used without paint added into it it seems to seal the surface you apply it to.

Hope this helps a little. I would check liquitex's website as well and see if they have any info on what else it can be used for.



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