Fabric Paint

Fabric paint is fantastic for kids crafts use and preschoolers love it!

It's easy to use and kids can create, paint and draw all at the same time.

They can create unique gifts, mementos, transform their clothing and shoes or even decorate the curtains and lamp shade in their own bedrooms.

fabric paint

What is Fabric Paints

Essentially it's colored pigments suspended in a glue-like binder formulated to adhere to textiles. It's not to be confused with fabric dye.

Preparing Fabric for Painting

The best material to paint on is cotton, however rayon and silk can work well too.

Avoid using synthetics and treated fabrics.

4 Tips for preparing fabric for painting:

  1. Always wash before painting to remove any residue, sizing or excess dye
  2. Do not use softener, as it may prevent the paint from sticking
  3. Iron the t-shirt or piece of fabric prior to painting if wrinkles will make painting difficult
  4. Place an old towel, cardboard, or waxed paper inside t-shirts or underneath the piece of cloth

Using Paint

Painting on fabric is fun and kids love experimenting with different application methods to achieve fantastic and varied results - artwork they can proudly wear or give away as unique and special gifts.

8 Tips for the best results:

  1. For specific designs or as a guide for young kids - mark outlines with a piece of chalk, charcoal pencil or a sewing marker
  2. If using a stencil - tape the stencil onto the fabric to keep it in place
  3. Keep designs for kids simple, or simply allow them to draw freely with paint pens or tubes
  4. Avoid long continuous lines in designs to prevent cracking over time - if the design does require long lines encourage your child to include small gaps in between long lines
  5. Keep tubes upside down to prevent air bubbles from forming. Prior to painting tap the nozzle on a hard surface and squeeze out a small amount of paint
  6. If adding glitter to design, do so after painting is completed - sprinkle onto wet paint and leave to dry for 24 to 72 hours
  7. If adding beads, embellishments, buttons, etc. to artwork - place a blob of color about the size of the object onto the fabric and gently push the object into the paint. Allow to dry flat for up to 72 hours
  8. If using a sponge as applicator, squeeze out excess paint before dabbing onto fabric

Heat Setting

Heat setting the painted fabric may be necessary to make the design permanent. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations.

Prior to heat setting it's important to allow the paint to dry completely - for up to 72 hours in some cases.

Heat setting can be done in many ways by using an iron, oven, clothes dryer, or hair dryer for example, but for best results always follow the manufacturers directions carefully.

After the paint has been heat set, some manufacturers recommend that the fabric be left to cure for up to 2 weeks prior to washing.

When washing the garment - turn it inside out. Line dry garment - avoid using the clothes dryer.

By heat setting the paint properly and carefully treating the finished project, your kids can enjoy their creations for years to come.

Buying Paints

Paints for fabric, are available in many forms - including pens, tubes, tubs and spray on.

They range from glowy neon, metallics, pearlescents, glow-in-the-dark or even puffy paints.

Which type you decide to buy will depend on your budget, the age of your child, the type of fabric you have on hand or the designs they want to try and create.

Other types such as acrylics can be used for painting on fabric by adding a fabric medium.

Alternatively, make your own paint. Click here for easy recipes.


When purchasing any form of paint or craft product, ensure that the label states that it is non-toxic and that it conforms to the applicable standards for your region.

Cleaning Up

When painting on fabric, ensure that your kids either wear old clothes, an apron or paint smock to prevent stains on their clothing...or any other fabric!

If paint is applied to fabric accidentally, wash it out immediately with water.

Click here for more clean up tips.

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