Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric? Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever tried painting on fabric? It can be a lot of fun! Acrylic paint is a popular medium for textile painting, but can you use acrylic paint on fabric? Keep reading to find out! We’ll also share some tips for getting the best results.

Acrylic paint is the perfect medium for painting on fabric. It works on natural fabrics like cotton and silk and synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon. Mixed with an acrylic binder, acrylic paint dries to a water-resistant finish that is flexible and durable.

What is Fabric Paint?

Fabric paint is a type of textile paint or fabric dye. Unlike true dyes, which are water-soluble and require Heat to fix them to fabrics, fabric paints contain pigments mixed with an acrylic binder and dried before use.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric?

Yes! All types of art media can be used on fabric, including oil-based paints made for canvas. However, there are some considerations when choosing your materials. For example, oil paints may be yellow over time because they contain sulfur compounds; artists often combine these colors with white to avoid this discoloration. Also, keep in mind that oil paints take much longer than other mediums to dry completely. Some artists choose not to use oil paints because of the smell and oil stains they may leave behind.

Fabric Paints vs. Fabric Dyes

Fabric paints are different from fabric dyes or clothing stains, which are water-soluble. Although you can use machine-washable fabrics paint on natural fabrics like cotton or silk, many artists prefer to buy pre-treated fabrics already colorfast.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester may soak up too much dye; in fact, this is part of their appeal for manufacturers who make clothing items out of them! If you plan on printing images onto fabric with a home printer, try using non-synthetic fibers like cotton or rayon instead (but be sure to test your materials first!).

Other Considerations for Acrylic Textile Painting

Because fabric paints are designed to work on porous fabrics, they soak in and dry quickly. You may need to apply several coats of paint to achieve a vibrant color, but be careful not to overload the fabric with too much liquid paint, or you might cause it to warp.

Many artists recommend applying a protective finish such as varnish or resin over your finished paintings so that they last longer. Also, avoid using solvents like mineral spirits, which can dissolve some types of fabric paint; choose acrylic mediums instead. Want more information? Check out these helpful links:

Acrylic painting is a wonderful medium that can create beautiful works of art on fabric, paper, or canvas. It is generally the preferred medium for artists who use mixed media since it can be easily blended and layered without appearing overly textured, such as when using oil paints.

The main appeal of acrylic paint for professional or amateur artists alike is that it dries quickly and stays flexible when dry, unlike oil paint which takes much longer to dry and becomes brittle upon curing. You can find acrylic paint at just about any art supply store, and prices will vary based on brand and product line.

Different Types of Acrylic Paint

Several different types of acrylic paint differ in viscosity and intended use:

– Heavy Body: This is the most common type of acrylic paint and ranges from slightly thin to very thick inconsistency. It is great for covering large areas with a single layer, such as painting walls or canvases. Depending on the desired effect, heavy body paints can be applied with a brush or roller.

Flow Improver/Dilutant: Acrylic paint has a high pigment concentration, making it thick and highly pigmented; flow improver or dilutant helps thin out heavy body paints without compromising their color saturation. This makes it easier to paint details and can improve the flow of the paint when applied with a brush.

– Extra Heavy Body: This type of acrylic paint has a very thick, paste-like consistency which allows you to make textured sculptural pieces. It is ideal for wood, papier mache, plaster, paper maché, and styrofoam.

– Matte vs. Glossy Acrylics: These paints are available in both finishes depending on your preference; some artists will mix matte and glossy paints to get different effects depending on what they are painting. Keep in mind that matte acrylics dry faster than glossier versions because there’s no shine or sheen to slow down the penetrating action of the solvent.

– High Viscosity: This type is ideal for achieving smooth, flowing brush strokes with acrylic paint. It is easy to work with and covers large areas quickly because there are no visible brushstrokes or trowel marks.

– Fluid Acrylics: These are extremely thin compared to other types of acrylics, but they retain their color saturation very well. They can create glazes or washes, which produce a light effect on the finished piece. Fluid acrylics dry slowly because they have less binder resin, so use them during advanced techniques such as moist-on-wet painting.

– Airbrush System Colors: This highly pigmented type of liquid acrylic paint can be used in an airbrush system for a more even, uniform coat. It is also good for creating gradations and achieving smooth color blends with minimal brush marks.

– Gloss vs. Matte Mediums: These versatile products are available in both gloss and matte finishes, which you can use to transform standard acrylic paints into high-quality varnishes or glazes that dry translucently with a glossy luster or a satin finish, respectively.

Maintaining Paint Quality

Once opened, acrylic paint will remain usable for several months, depending on the brand and type of paint used. All quality art paints have some pigment load which helps them retain their color saturation after being exposed to light or thinned out with water.

Best Acrylic Paint for Fabric

When applying acrylic paint to fabric, you should consider using fluid acrylics because they apply more evenly and penetrate the fabric better than other types. Fluid acrylics dry quickly, making it easier to do touch-ups and blend colors if needed.

Acrylic paints can change color when mixed with water or a damp material such as cloth or felt; this means that your original color choices might be altered slightly after application.

Care should be taken not to use too much paint on fabric because excess pigment can settle into the fibers of the material over time, which could cause dye fading or staining. For best results, apply two even coats of liquid acrylic paint with a foam brush for large areas and a small bristle brush for detailed areas of the fabric.


– Paint with a roller or an even, steady hand for flat color applications and use a brush or sponge to add texture. Sponge painting is ideal for decorative effects such as polka dots, stars, and stripes.

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– Acrylic paint can also be used on many other porous surfaces such as wood, papier mache, plaster, paper maché, and styrofoam; if the adhesive is exposed to high heat levels (as in firing kilns), you should use regular acrylic varnish instead of a standard acrylic paint which could cause yellowing or blistering.

What is a Fabric Medium?

A fabric medium is a type of acrylic paint thinned out with water or other solvents, making it ideal for more fluid brushstrokes on fabric.

Fabric mediums are designed to bond well with the painted material, so they don’t fade, crack or peel over time. It will usually take 24-48 hours for these products to dry completely on most fabrics, and you must wait at least one week before laundering cloth items after painting with a fabric medium.

If you do not allow your project enough time to cure thoroughly, the piece might come undone once it’s laundered.

Advantages of Using Fabric Medium

Fabric paints can create permanent or temporary art pieces since many brands are either machine washable or dry clean only. Acrylic fabric paint can bring new life to old fabrics such as faded denim jeans, vintage dresses, and other old pieces of clothing that might be damaged beyond repair; you can use them for upcycling projects like a wallet or clutch bags made from recycled T-shirts and artwork on thrift store finds.

The paints themselves are non-toxic and water-soluble, making them ideal for children’s projects and painting over stenciled designs; they also adhere well to just about any surface, including paper, cardstock, wood, metal, glass, etc. and even glass plastic items such as picture frames.

You don’t have to work in just one color because many products come in a wide selection of hues, and you can mix one or more colors to create your custom blend.

– Fabric paint is washable and dry clean only, so it’s perfect for home decor and clothing items such as handbags, aprons, neckties, scarves, and even pillowcases.

Disadvantages of Using Fabric Medium

Fabric paint tends to be rather thick, making it difficult to work with on smaller or detailed areas of a project; some brands may also require several coats before the final color shows up.

If you use too much water or another solvent when diluting the product, there might be problems with consistency; some areas become overly wet while others remain dry and patchy looking instead of smooth and even.

When applying the paint, care should be taken because it might bleed into the fabric and other textiles; if your project becomes stained or warped, you will need to cut out and remove the item instead of painting over these spots.

However, the biggest drawback is the price; acrylic paints for fabrics can cost twice as much as regular acrylics, making projects like upholstery repairs expensive. Some lower-priced products may also contain harmful additives such as formaldehyde which can irritate sensitive skin or cause allergic reactions in chemically sensitive people.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric Without a Medium?

The use of acrylic paint on fabric without a medium is usually not recommended when making this type of art. Even when stored in an airtight container, these paints will often form crystals and solidify at their bottom; you can avoid this by adding a small amount of water to the paint to make it more workable and extend its shelf life.

When using acrylics for dip dyeing or other methods involving direct application onto fabric panels without a separate binder such as vinyl acetate, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to determine what types of additives are safe to use.

If the product only contains pigment and no additives, it may be possible to add another type of acidic liquid such as vinegar; however, it’s difficult to predict the outcome of such experiments. You should always test this application method first.

Best Way to Apply Acrylic Paint on Fabric

When painting with acrylic paints on fabric, you will need a cloth or paper towel to clean your brushes, as well as a container of water for rinsing them out between colors. Brushing, stippling, and spot application are popular techniques used with this type of paint.

Remember that you should use a flat bristle brush for large areas and a fine-tipped one for details with each different application method. You can also use an old damp sponge instead of a brush for special effects such as sponged patterns or blending.

Basic Supplies Required for Acrylic Painting on Fabric

In addition to your paint and brushes, you will need a variety of fabrics in different colors and materials to achieve various effects. You can start by pressing or heat setting your fabric panels before beginning with your acrylic paints for added protection from bleeding, color fading, or other damage that might occur during the creation process.

Always set out all of the art supplies you intend to use on a clean surface away from children and pets; painting is not recommended for young children because it requires careful handling and preparation of tools and materials before application.

Can I Use It on Fabric Craft Projects?

You can use acrylic paints for all types of craft making, such as filling small spaces in woodwork, staining or dyeing leather items, embellishing pottery, and other types of craft materials. In addition to this, you can also use it as a waterproof coating for your sand art designs or those created from any organic material such as leaves, petals, and twigs.

Artists and crafters often use acrylic paints to create permanent works of art that won’t fade or change color over time. If you want your finished piece to retain its original vibrancy, seal it with a coat of varnish before showing off the final product at shows and exhibitions!

Do You Need to Prep the Fabric Before Painting?

The best way to prepare your fabric panels for acrylic paint is by washing them in hot water with a low-suds detergent. Rinse the panel thoroughly, then leave it to dry flat on a towel before painting.

If you are planning on using vinyl acetate as your binder, check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out if this step is necessary or not; some types of vinyl acetate require Heat setting, so never skip this step unless the product specifically states that it doesn’t have to be done beforehand.

Can I Mix Vinegar and Acrylic Paint for Fabric Painting?

Artists who work with acrylic paint and water-based media sometimes wonder whether mixing vinegar with acrylic paints for fabric painting is possible. The most popular medium used with acrylics is water; others include gel or glazing liquid which can be added to create more muted effects on your finished paintings. Varnish, matte mediums and other sealers are also commonly mixed into this type of paint to change its appearance or improve durability.

However, adding an acid such as vinegar will cause the pH levels in your paint mixture to become unstable; try using egg yolk instead since this often produces similar results at a much lower cost.

How to Paint Fabric With Acrylic Paint

Mix the paint with a few drops of water to make it more workable; you can gradually increase the amount of liquid as needed if your paint is too thick. If using vinyl acetate, refer to your product’s instructions regarding how much water or other liquid ingredients should be added.

Apply the paint mixture onto your fabric panel by dipping a flat brush into it, then releasing it on the surface of your panel in quick strokes for smaller areas or broader movements for larger areas. Work quickly since acrylic paints dry very rapidly, and you should always begin painting at least one inch away from where you want to end so that you can avoid unsightly lines along any edges or corners.

Remove all excess paint around the edges of your design with a damp paper towel and let it dry completely before you attempt to wash the fabric. Once your painted design is finished, Heat set the paint by ironing or steaming it for a few minutes until the surface appears flat and uniformly colored.

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, another sealantSuppose you plan to sell your work at art shows. In that case, we recommend adding an anti-caking agent such as Calcium Carbonate (Titanium Dioxide) since this will make the paint easier to transport without causing any damage. Once your artwork is complete and properly heat set, please leave it to air dry completely, then cover it with a coat of varnish or another sealant for maximum protection from mold and discoloration over time.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric

To seal acrylic paint on fabric, consider testing a small section of your artwork with regular varnish or other sealants since some products may not be suitable for use with mixed media and painting techniques.

Depending upon the type of binder that you are using, you may need to allow the paint to dry completely then apply additional coats until it’s fully sealed. Some types of vinyl acetate require heat setting before applying any other coatings, so always check the manufacturer’s instructions for how many layers are safe to add in one sitting.

When using acid-based additives such as vinegar to adjust the pH levels in your paint mixture, always test them first on a small patch of fabric since they can sometimes have undesirable effects when used incorrectly.

Some types of vinyl acetate require heat setting; check the manufacturer’s instructions for details.

Never skip washing your fabric panels before painting since dirt and dust can prevent your paint from adhesive to the surface.

Unless the product specifies otherwise, mix your acrylic paint with a few drops of water and apply it using brushstrokes that go in one direction, starting at least an inch away from where you wish the result to be.

Remove any excess paint with a clean paper towel as soon as you finish applying it to don’t dry on top of your artwork. If you use beads or glitter as part of your design, we recommend removing these first since they won’t adhere properly if applied after sealing.

Heat set your artwork by ironing or steaming it for a few minutes before letting it air dry completely.

Once your artwork is complete and properly heat set, coat the surface with a layer of varnish to seal your design against damage from mold and discoloration over time. Suppose you plan to sell them at art shows. In that case, we recommend adding an anti-caking agent such as Calcium Carbonate (Titanium Dioxide) since this will make the paint easier to transport without causing any damage.

Take care not to confuse light colors with white which reflects light rather than absorbs it. This may cause colored pencils or other light media to appear dull, even if they’re perfectly fine after mixed with acrylic paints.

How to Soften Fabric After Painting

If the surface of your fabric looks hard and scratchy after painting with acrylic paint, you can use a hairdryer to soften the fibers by focusing on areas where you notice any stiffness or tightness. Be sure to set it on low Heat since this is the safest setting for preventing any damage from overheating.

Never attempt to wash painted fabric in a washing machine, as this will cause any loose powders in your paint mixtures, such as glitter and mica-based pigments, to rub off and create unsightly stains around the edges of your design.

Although we recommend sealing your artwork with textile varnish or other sealants before selling them at art shows, only consider adding anti-caking agents such as calcium carbonate (titanium dioxide) to dried paint that you plan on sanding or cutting away since this will make the surface easier to sand without causing damage.

Never attempt to sand acrylic paint that hasn’t fully dried yet, or you could end up with an uneven surface that is much harder to repair than before. To avoid this, always let your artwork dry completely, then test any sanding techniques on a small area of your design first, just in case.

When adding anti-caking agents such as calcium carbonate (titanium dioxide) to dried paint, be sure not to use more than the recommended amount since it can thicken the consistency and may lead to further clumping and chipping if too much used.

Unless specified otherwise, you should always mix your acrylic paint by adding small amounts of water to the powdered pigments until it has a yogurt-like texture that is neither too runny nor clumpy.

For best results when using alcohol inks as part of your artwork, we recommend mixing them with textile mediums such as varnish to easily sit on top of the fabric without sinking into creases and getting trapped behind raised fibers.

Never attempt to heat set an unstretched canvas so that all parts are taut against the frame since this may cause it to warp over time which can interfere with mounting hardware such as nails or brackets.

When working with different paints on separate pieces of cloth, it’s important not to mix them, so your design looks consistent throughout. This may mean using different brushes, palette knives, or sponge applicators to achieve the desired effects since they absorb more of one type than another.

For best results when adding glitter paint to your artwork, try adding a small amount of acrylic matte medium at a time until it reaches a smooth consistency with no lumps or bumps that won’t adhere to the fabric properly. Be sure to wash any tools used with soap and water immediately after mixing rather than waiting until you are finished for the day since dried paint can be very difficult to remove later on if left overnight.

Can I Heat Dry the Acrylic Paint?

There are many different methods of drying acrylic paints, but not all work equally well. For example, heating the water-based paints will cause them to turn solid and become irreversible. What’s more, if any solvents or other chemicals are mixed in with your paint while it is still wet, these may evaporate too quickly while the paint is being heated, leading to shrinkage and cracking on your final product.

As a result, we recommend using alternative methods for drying acrylic paints, including air-drying or setting objects out in the sun until they are completely dry to prevent damage by Heat. It also helps spray nonstick cooking oil over areas where you notice any stickiness or dampness on your artwork, making it dry faster and easier to handle.

Should you Heat set Acrylic on Fabric?

You should avoid any heat setting whenever possible since this can lead to yellowing, shrinking, or cracking of the surface over time. Instead, consider using fabric glue or iron on a low setting for permanency if necessary. However, be careful when using this method with materials that are more delicate than others not to burn them.

If your design is small enough that it won’t get stretched out but requires permanent adhesion for some reason, then consider reinforcing the bond by stitching around it after everything dries thoroughly. This will help keep the edges from rolling up and prevent paint transfer problems in most cases.

Watercolor Effects when for Acrylic on Fabric

When using permanent markers, be sure to avoid touching the tip of the marker against hard surfaces since this can cause it to break, which will give you less control over the lines being produced.

Even though many think that watercolors are best for use on fabrics, they generally contain lots of pigments and solvents that could interfere with other media types since acrylic paint is already extremely versatile.

Should I Use Glossy or Matte Medium?

You’ll need to decide whether you want your freshly-painted fabric to have a shiny or matte finish before adding any mediums. This will help determine how much gloss vs. absorbency your final result should have so you don’t accidentally make your artwork too glossy or leave a tacky residue by adding too much medium.

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You can use any gloss gel mixed with water to thin your acrylic paint down for brushing it onto your fabric for a shiny appearance. This makes the color more intense and helps give a smooth surface that will reflect light from all angles. Some artists choose not to varnish their work since the extra layer could decrease how well it absorbs, which is especially problematic if you want to apply pastels or charcoal over the top later as shading tools.

On the other hand, if you don’t expect your work to take a lot of direct sunlight or handling, then matte-finish mediums may be a better choice. For example, one option is using spray varnish to help protect the fabric’s fibers from damage and leave a non-glossy finish so colors won’t be too intense.

After Care Tips for Acrylic Paint on Fabric

After-care tips for acrylic paint on fabric include washing in cold water (no higher than 30°C or 86°F) with soap and air-drying your artwork whenever possible. Alcohol inks, dry pastels, chalk paints, gesso, and many other mediums can also be used with acrylic paints without causing any damage if done properly.

However, hot ironing or steam ironing may melt some types of plastic mixed into your paint, so this should be avoided, too, unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer.

The Best Fabric Mediums to Use with Acrylic Paint

Canvas or cotton fabric works best when using acrylic paints. In general, you should always use a pre-stretched canvas since the tension of the stretched material will allow it to hold its shape more easily, so your design looks consistent from one part to another.

Even if you choose not to stretch a canvas yourself, be sure that any unstretched cotton fabric is tightly woven or knitted, which adheres better to the paint and keeps it moving around over time.

If you do not have access to a large enough piece of cloth for painting on, consider cutting up old T-shirts or other pieces of clothing into smaller swatches instead of stretching them on a frame that becomes distorted over time. Even though these may be more fragile than the type of cloth found in a pre-stretched canvas, they are great for experimenting with different types of paint and finding out which works best on different materials.

Once you have your fabric stretched on a frame or cut up into smaller pieces, be sure to clean it thoroughly before starting with soap and water to remove any dirt or oil that might cause problems later on with adhesion or staining.

In some cases, it also helps to prep the surface by priming it with gesso since this provides a smooth sealed layer beneath your acrylic paints which won’t let them sink too deeply into the threads. While an even coat is necessary for all parts of your design, make any thicker layers in the center of your piece where it won’t be as noticeable during use.

As always, clean your brushes and tools immediately after finishing the design rather than waiting until you are finished for the day to prevent any dried paint from hardening on them overnight, making it difficult to remove later on without damaging them or getting unwanted paint transfers.

Also, avoid using heat drying methods whenever possible since these can cause shrinkage, cracking, yellowing over time, and other undesirable effects. Lastly, don’t forget to include a maintenance plan in case something happens to damage or discolor this fabric painting at some point in the future so that you keep it looking great for years! 

The Best Fabric Paint 

The most popular brands of fabric paint available at the moment include Textile Color by Jacquard, Speedball Fabric Acrylic Dye, and Tulip One-Shot Dimensional Fabric Paint. While several different manufacturers make similar products that can be used on various materials, keep in mind that one brand may work differently from another depending on how it is mixed or applied to your material.

Every type of paint has its unique techniques for application and use, so reading the instructions provided with whatever you select is extremely important for helping you know what kind of results to expect. For example, some fabric paints are made from natural ingredients, including soybean oil or beeswax. In contrast, others are synthetic blends designed to dry quickly with minimal shrinkage compared to other products.

As of 2022, Tulip’s best-selling fabric paints are made with their One-Shot Dimensional Fabric Paint being extremely popular for its unique formula, which creates a raised three-dimensional appearance on nearly any type of material without using messy powders or liquids. Another favorite brand for this year is Speedball’s Fabric Acrylic Dye line which includes 20 different colors and an application brush for easy use either on clothing or cloth surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is acrylic paint permanent on clothes?

Suppose you want to make sure that this art is long-lasting. While the only 100% permanent types of paint that you can use on fabric are dye inks like those found in a sewing machine, many brands of paint designed specifically for cloth will not wash out over time. Long-lasting that case, it’s best to test an inconspicuous area on your swatch first before applying acrylic paint along with any water-based glaze or finishing coat which may make it more resistant to fading over time.

How do you seal acrylic paint on denim?

Since painting on this type of material requires somewhat thick layers, the best way to seal acrylic paint onto denim is with either a clear varnish or some water-based glaze, which you can find in the same section the rest of your paints while shopping. Whether using a spray finish or brushing it on directly, make sure to smooth out any imperfections and let it dry for 24 hours before continuing to ensure that everything is covered evenly and completely before adding additional colors.

Will acrylic paint stay on jeans?

As long as you allow it to dry completely and add a finishing sealant on top, most brands of paint should be able to stay on your jeans for years without fading or chipping. However, some fabric types can affect the final appearance more than others, so ensure that you always test on an inconspicuous area before applying it directly to your jeans.

If all else fails, remember that you can always make your paint for fabric using soybean oil or beeswax along with coloring pigments like those used in oil paints. This type of mixture is one of the most common ways of adding color onto cloth while keeping it permanent and flexible at the same time.


In short, while some artists enjoy experimenting with different types of paint on fabric, it is generally not recommended due to the potential for damage from bleeding colors or discoloration over time. In most cases, you should use quality acrylic fabric paint if you want something which will last a long time and give good results.

Once applied and allowed to dry properly without any additional heat, these paints can easily stand up against regular laundering and cleaning to keep your final design looking great for years!

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