Fabric paint is a great way to customize any outfit and bring life to your clothes. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or you sell custom clothes online, it’s important to find the right type of fabric paint for you. But with so many options on the market, choosing the best fabric paint can be a bit overwhelming.
More often than not, buying acrylic fabric paint is your best bet. They are inexpensive, durable, and brighter than other options. For most projects, liquid acrylic fabric paint is the best bet, as it is very versatile and easy to use. You can check out different options like Jacquard Textile Paints or Tulip’s wide variety of different fabric paints.
Having said that, however, depending on your project, the best fabric paint for you might be a different one. Different types of materials and projects require different types of paint. Sometimes a large surface is an issue, and other times the paint needs to be bright and durable. So let’s find what’s the best option for you, depending on what you plan to do.
Types Of Fabric Paint
When you visit any store for fabric paint, you’ll be surprised by how many aisles they fill up. They come in different colors, forms, sizes, types, brands, etc. But each kind will usually have a different purpose. With so many options to choose from, it can be intimidating to make this purchase.
There are mainly three types of fabric paints when it comes to differences in composition. Let’s go over the differences between all of these, so you can decide which one you need.
Acrylic Fabric Paint
It is common practice to make acrylic fabric paints by mixing pigments with an acrylic polymer base. After that, it’s mixed thoroughly to make paint. This kind of fabric paint is the most common and inexpensive. It’s fairly durable and works well with most fabrics. It is important to note that acrylic paint, acrylic fabric paint, or textile paint, are different things.
These are, however, water-soluble. This means that the viscosity of the paint will change when it comes in contact with water. This, however, does not affect its color saturation. Most crafters use acrylic fabric paint and it’s very versatile. Because it’s so easy to work with, anyone from a beginner to an expert can use it with ease.
- Easy to use
- Saturated payoff
- Dries Fast
- Some older forms of acrylic fabric paint may contain toxins
- Drying time does not allow you to make changes
Alcohol Fabric Paint
Alcohol-based fabric paints are made with an alcohol base as a binder mixed with pigment to deliver the color. They are more like ink and not paint. They aren’t that popular because they often soak into the fabric’s porous fibers. They are also not as saturated as acrylic-based paints. As a result, they don’t work well with darker fabrics. You can’t wash them either.
However, if you’re using multiple layers or doing a project that involves tie-dye, then alcohol-based fabric paints will work great for you. Using multiple layers deepens the colors and makes them stand out more.
- Great for tie-dye
- Compatible with less porous fabrics
- Gives a cool transparent, faded look
- Light pigment
- Not washable
- Doesn’t work with dark fabric
- Sinks into pores
Fabric dyes are used more to change the color of fabric, rather than to paint it or design it. It chemically reacts with the fibers to form a chemical bond that completely alters the original color of the fabric (or lack thereof). It is similar to alcohol-based fabric paint.
You can buy different kinds of fabric dyes for different materials. If you use one with the other, the results won’t be satisfactory. Dyeing the fabric is also a very tedious project and it takes a lot of time and energy. It’s used in tie-dyeing.
- Great for dyeing fabric
- Works with darker color fabric as well
- Washable Won’t fade over time
- Tedious process to dye a fabric
- Pre-soak is necessary
- Multiple rinses and steps are required
- Cleanup is more difficult
Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric?
Yes, you can use regular acrylic paint on fabric as well. Acrylic fabric paint is simply acrylic paint but mixed with a textile or fabric medium that allows it to bond with the fabric. So if you can mix in a fabric medium with your acrylic paint, you’re set.
While I would still suggest buying fabric paint over using acrylic paint, if you have no other option, then it should work similarly. Oftentimes, acrylic paints have a lot more variety when it comes to shade range, as opposed to fabric paint.
Whatever your reason, if you want to use regular acrylic paint, you’re going to need to buy a fabric or texture medium. You can check out the Delta Creative Ceram Coat Textile Medium, which works well on almost all types of surfaces. It’s also very affordable.
What Form Of Fabric Paint Should You Get?
Fabric paint also comes in a variety of different forms. You can buy them in liquid forms, or spray cans, or even as markers or pens. Which kind you should get depends on how you plan to use them, but for most projects, I would recommend getting liquid acrylic fabric paints. Because they are very versatile, you can use different brushes to use them differently.
If you are going for the spread-out effect, and are painting over a large surface, then getting a spray can be the right choice for you. Spray fabric paints look like any other spray paint can and are used similarly. You can use it as a backdrop for your design or a more faded look. They are great for stenciling.
For more detailed designs and intricate work, you can use acrylic fabric markers or pens. You can use these to draw out your designs and do detailed work on them. They are very convenient and easy to use, but they can’t be used over large amounts of fabrics. You’ll also find that they aren’t very saturated. Use them to complement your liquid paintwork.
The Best Fabric Paint To Buy
As you can see, in most cases, acrylic-based fabric paint is the best option. Alcohol inks and fabric dyes have a lot of problems and most people don’t even use them. With acrylic paint, you can use it for different fabrics and still get amazing, bright colors. You can just use it like regular paint as if you were painting on a canvas.
It doesn’t leak or spread, so you can get as intricate as you want with your designs. It dries fast as well and works well with most fabrics. Let’s check out the best acrylic fabric paints out there.
Jacquard Textile Paint
This paint is specifically made for fabrics, and it is acrylic-based. It’s great for use in different kinds of fabrics and even shoes and sneakers. You can even use it to paint over furniture fabric to revamp old items. It has a matte, leathery finish.
It is very vibrant and easy to use. Moreover, it does not budge or bleed at all and it remains stiff. You can spread it easily with a brush or even an airbrush to do your designs or paint over a piece of fabric. It lasts a long time and comes in a bunch of different colors. You can even mix colors to get the shade you want. The only problem is that each jar is very small, so you might need to buy more.
Tulip Soft Fabric Paint
The Tulip Soft Fabric Paint comes in a wide range of colors and finishes, starting from mattes to metallics to even glitter finishes. You can decorate your clothes or fabric beautifully using this paint. They come in tubes and so they are very easy to pour and use. It doesn’t fade over time and it dries soft. It won’t leave your fabric stiff.
This paint, however, is very runny, so you have to be careful while using it. It’s also semi-opaque. This means you’ll need to layer your paint if you want a vibrant color payoff. They work great with most kinds of materials, and they come with tiny bits of glitter for a smooth finish.
Crafts 4 All Fabric Paint Set
This set is great for beginners and more experienced crafters alike. It comes in a set of 24 different acrylic-based fabric paints with attractive colors. You can paint with it regularly using a brush for a flat 2D effect. Or you can also use a tube to draw designs onto fabric in 3D. Use the nozzle to push out the paint and it’ll dry in 3D.
This is great for clothes, sneakers, and even backpacks or accessories. It’s very versatile and you can use it on almost anything you want. It’s also washable and durable. The tip size might be a little too wide for very intricate 3D work, but you can brush for details. You can also change the consistency by adding a little water, so you can use it better. It’s also a great gift for kids.
FolkArt Multi Satin Finish Acrylic Craft Paint Set
With a range of 12 different colors, the FolkArt Craft Paint set is great for fabrics. It is meant to be used on different kinds of surfaces like wood, fabric, ceramics, terra cotta, etc. So you can get a lot of use out of it, even after using it on your fabrics.
It gives your work a satin finish, and it is acrylic-based. At such an affordable price, you get so many colors and it’s very easy to use. It is completely waterproof, so the colors won’t fade even after you wash your clothes. Use heat to seal it in for better results.
Simply Spray Fabric Spray Paint
If you’re going to be painting large surfaces, then spray fabric paint is your best choice. The Simply Spray fabric paint is acrylic-based and comes in a convenient spray can. It’s non-toxic and non-flammable, making it perfect for painting over upholstery and furniture fabric.
The great thing about this paint is that it sets itself. There’s no need to use heat! The paint will dry after about 30 minutes and will be set completely. It becomes permanent after about 72 hours! As a result, you can wash it and use it without concern.
Crayola Fabric Markers
For detailed drawings and intricate designs, these Crayola Fabric Markers are amazing. They are very pigmented and come in a pack of 30 different colors. It works as any other Crayola markers do. But they are waterproof and permanent.
They will stay on even without being set with heat. But I still recommend using an iron to set the design once you are done. Especially if you are also going to be using liquid paint as well. It’s great for small designs and detailing. But for larger surfaces, you can use it with liquid fabric paint.
Tulip Dimensional Neon Fabric Paint
If you’re going for a 70’s retro, neon look, then these Neon Fabric Paints by Tulip are a great option. It comes in a set of 6 vibrant neon colors in an easy-to-use squeeze bottle. The thin nozzle allows you to make 3D designs, so you can make your fabric designs look like actual neon signs. It’s great for outlining other designs with a pop of color as well.
They are very easy to use and machine washable. So you don’t need to worry about the paint fading away. It’s completely non-toxic, so you can use it with your kids or even design your babies’ clothes with this paint.
Arteza Permanent Fabric Paint
The Arteza Permanent fabric paints are created by artists, and so they are great for creating a statement with your clothes. These are semi-transparent, so a little bit of your fabric color will peak through. But you can use this as your design. No need to dry, just set it with an iron. It works great with cotton, linen, and even denim and tote bags.
This comes in a set of 23 different unique shades. won’t peel or crack even after multiple washes. They’ll keep your fabric soft and moveable. It gives a beautiful, metallic finish. They also blend well to create other shades as well. So if there’s a shade you don’t have, there’s no need to buy separate paint.
Crafts 4 All Fabric Markers
With dual-tip markers with a point-edge tip and flat edge tip, you can use these markers to make any design you want. It’s also very child-friendly, so you could do projects with your kids or siblings as well. Use them on t-shirts, sneakers, school bags, and even placemats or wall posters. The ink is very pigmented and is acrylic-based.
It does not bleed into the fabric and is completely machine-washable. You will need to set them with a hot iron like most other fabric paints. It doesn’t show up as well on darker fabrics though. So it’s best to use white backgrounds or light-colored fabrics. For a tie-dye effect, you can even use rubbing alcohol on your design to spread it out and smoothen the edges.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Fabric Paint To Buy?
When buying fabric paint, you should have an overall idea of what your project is beforehand. Depending on the fabric type, the kind of transparency you want, the consistency of the paint, the form of fabric paint you’ll require, what kind of brush you will use, and whether or not you’ll need a fabric medium, your purchase decisions will differ.
- The Fabric Medium
First and foremost, decide what you will be using to paint your fabric. If you want to use regular acrylic paint, then you will need to buy a textile medium. I wouldn’t recommend using regular paint over fabric paints, because the latter is designed specifically for fabrics. So they are more likely to be durable.
By adding a medium to your fabric paint, however, you can get much better results. If your fabric paint requires a medium, the instruction will be included in its packaging. It can help control color bleeding and make the coats even. Some fabric paints won’t even need to be sealed with heat once mixed with a medium.
- Fabric Type
Perhaps the most important factor affecting your choice of fabric paint is the type of fabric you will be painting on. Its color, its material, its size, everything will affect which paint will be best for you. Most acrylic-based fabric paint will work on pretty much all kinds of fabric and even other surfaces.
However, if your fabric is thick like denim or it is dark in color, then you might not get the best results. If you have the option to choose your fabric, then try to opt for lighter hues and materials like cotton, polyester, or even silk. These will result in the brightest colors and the best results. Even denim will give you surprising results.
However, if you prefer darker colors, leather jackets, or something similar, getting a 3D paint, neon, or glittery paint may be a better option. This will help the paint show up against the dark background better.
The color of your fabric will also determine what kind of transparency you should go for. For darker fabrics, you should buy 100% opaque paints. Otherwise, the color won’t show up at all. For lighter colored fabrics, you can make do with semi-transparent or transparent ones. Anyways, no matter the color transparency, if you want to get a vibrant colour on a dark fabric, you will have to cover all your painting objects with white color first.
Transparent paints are also great for that faded effect. If you are going for a certain kind of look, you can use transparent paints with more opaque details. This will make your work stand out.
Consistency of the paint is also a deciding factor in which paint to buy. Some fabric paints are really thin and runny. These can be used for more “water-color”-like painting. But oftentimes, runny paint can be hard to handle. They get everywhere and don’t stay where you put them. They might ruin your design.
Paints with a thicker consistency are typically used for 3D effects and the puffy-paint effect.If you don’t want your paint to go anywhere and like texture, then a thicker consistency should work well. But for most paintings on fabric, a medium consistency is ideal. You can also change the consistency by adding water or any other additives that the manufacturer recommends.
- Form Of Paint
Your project will determine what kind of paint you should go for. If you are working with T-shirts or regular clothes, then liquid acrylic paint should work best. According to your surface area, you can buy a large bottle or smaller bottles that come in sets.
For more detailed work or on a smaller surface area, buying fabric markers would be great. They come in different colors and tips and even different finishes. They work just like regular markers. If you are going for much larger projects, however, spray paints might be your best friend. They also work great for painting upholstery and furniture fabric.
You can use different tools to apply your paint to the fabric as well. For liquid fabric paint, you’ll have the best time using regular paint brushes. If you don’t already have one, a lot of fabric paint sets give in a set of brushes for free! You can also use airbrush techniques. If you are using an airbrush then you’ll need to buy thinner paint or thin the paint down with additives.
For the 3D designs, you’ll probably just be using the nozzle of the bottle the paint comes in. So try to get the ones with a thin nozzle that complements your design. You can also use small detailing tools and spatulas for a more textured look. It’s pretty similar to painting on a canvas.
How To Make Your Fabric Paint Permanent?
Most fabric paint isn’t permanent on its own. They are waterproof but not permanent. If you just leave them to dry they might not survive a few machine washes and will start to lose color over time. This is why most fabric paint bottles will have directions on them to seal the paint with heat. You iron over the paint once it’s dry to set it in place permanently.
Once you’ve painted on your fabric, leave it to dry for at least 24 hours. After that, use a thin cloth on top of the painting, and then iron the fabric with an iron. It is very important to not to use steam during ironing. You have to be very gentle and use the low setting on your iron. Setting the paints with iron takes 3 to 7 minutes. This will set the fabric paint in place, and it won’t budge even after you throw your clothes in the washing machine.
How Much Fabric Paint Do You Need?
Remember to always buy more fabric paint than you think you will need. Even while mixing paint and making new shades, always make a lot of it at once. This is because the fabric will soak up a lot of the paint. So you are going to need much more than you would if you were painting on paper.
You should also mix more at once when making new shades because it can be extremely difficult to get the shades to match in different batches. Paint mixing is an art in itself. So it is better to have more than you need than to have a shortage that will ruin your design. With fabric paints you have to be fast, because it dries very quickly, so do not mix too much of paint neither.
If you are using spray cans or airbrushes, then the same goes for these as well. Load up your brushes with a lot of paint before starting. Leaving too much time in between painting can form layers and textures. The colors also might dry differently if you don’t do it all at once. So always buy more than you think you are going to need. And always mix IT in relatively larger batches.
Different fabric paints can be used for different things, but usually, the best fabric paint to buy would be a liquid, acrylic-based one. They are very versatile and can be used in a lot of different projects. But you should buy whichever one you prefer. When you experiment more with different kinds, you will see for yourself the pros and cons of each of them.
If you’re thinking long-term or making bigger projects, it is often helpful to have different forms of acrylic fabric paint around. You can use all of them together and it makes the process much more convenient. But for beginners, you can start with a simple, affordable fabric paint set and you’ll be good to go. Hope this helped!