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Updated by Rosalie Galvez on Dec 10, 2020
Headline for Textile Painting: Fabric And Cloth Painting Techniques
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Textile Painting: Fabric And Cloth Painting Techniques

Fabric painting is one of the most popular among artists because of its versatility and the benefits of using your creativity on fabrics and textiles. There some exceptional benefits attached to fabric painting. It gives you the opportunity to customize dresses, wearable textile items, as well as fabric for crafts.


Prepare Your Fabric

Paints that are widely used in fabric painting requires that you prepare your fabric before you start painting it. This is a significant step towards preserving your fabric and the paint on it. Of course, you would never want to go through hard work for painting a piece that you like a lot, and only finding it to be faded in the meantime or the paint flakes off whenever you touch it.

The steps of preparing your fabric depending on the type of paint you use. The best way to keep all things in the best possible condition is by reading the manual from the specific paint brand that you intend to use on your fabric. It will guide you in the right direction and will explain to you what precautions and preparatory steps will preserve your textile.

The first and most obvious step is to wash the fabric. It will help clean off all the unwanted chemicals and starches from production and packing procedures. When you are washing, make sure not to use fabric softeners because they will restrict the absorbing quality of the fabric.

After it is cleaned and washed, it is better to iron it in order to get rid of all the kinks and wrinkles. It will make it easier for you to design your favorite patterns. In addition to that, prepare your workspace by getting rid of all the clutter and debris.

When you get to the painting part, it is important to add a buffer between different layers of fabric. It will prevent the paint from leaking through layers and spoiling the surface.

Also, keep in mind that there are some paints and dyes that require wet fabric for perfect adhesion.


Use Preferred Tools for Preferred Effects

Fabric paints have similar characteristics to acrylic paints, which means there is a lot of room for flexibility when it comes to using your favorite painting tools.

Fabric painting certainly allows you to use flat and round brushes, but you can also come up with novel ideas of using other things such as rubber stamps, towels, palette knife, finger-painting, and so on. As far as something works for you and your fabric, you are allowed to experiment.


Plan Before You Paint

When it comes to the finished product or the final act of painting on fabric, it does not hurt to sketch your design beforehand or even practicing it over fabric-scrapes. This way, the process will be seamless and you will prevent costly mistakes.

Like any other artwork, it is in your interest as an artist to sort out design and plans before picking up your brush.

In addition to that, you can try out light layers of color to draw your design onto the fabric, then layer the paint onto your sketch in the same fashion as you would on a paper or canvas.


Employ Painting Techniques

Keep in mind that ultimately, fabric painting is just another way for an artist, such as yourself, to express creativity. Contrarily, it has more room to absorb colors on its rougher surface than canvas or another medium that you are used to drawing and painting on.


Mix Your paint Abundantly

It is a good idea to mix a lot of colors before starting when you are planning to do some fabric painting. The fact that unprimed fabric will soak more paint that what you are used to experience. So, mix your colors in abundance so you have a load to play with your art. Also, load up your brush to prevent your stroke from drying up in the middle.

Essentially, fabric painting is not much different than other styles except for the medium. You only need to adapt to the different nature of it.


Practice & Experiment

There is not much “artistic” done in fabric painting but still, there are many techniques developed by painters. It includes spray painting, wet painting, blocking and stamping, and stencils among others.

The best course of action for a novice is to practice and experiment on rags and scrapes before trying hands on the actual medium. This way, you will be able to control the variables that can help you achieve the effect on fabric that you actually want to see. You will know eventually how many layers you should paint, what kind of maneuverability and grasp you have on your brush and paint, and the kind of shading you can employ that will help your design to come to life.

Practicing and experimenting with mediums and can help you test the nature of your paints. In a sense, it is a significant step in the start because different colors react in a different way on the same fabric. So, you should do it before trying your hand for real. Conversely, even using the same kind of paints that suit your style, you need to keep in mind the nature of different fabrics for some will accept, bleed, absorb, or in a variety of ways.


Patience is the Key

When you are done with painting the desired patterns or objects on your fabric, you need to be patient with the medium. Before moving it from the drying place, you need to give it ample time so that the colors can settle permanently. If you have painted the dampened fabric or applied multiple layers, drying up completely could take a while.

Drying-up time is more crucial for those who want to flip the layer of fabric or garment and need to paint on the other side. Applying multiple layers means there could be different requirements for each layer. For instance, there are some fabric paints that require hot rinsing after the paint is dried completely. Whereas, there are some that work best by getting a cold shower.

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