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How to Make Acrylic Paints Permanent on Fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting fabric is an easy way to spice up clothing and home decor Many brands of fabric paint exist, but most don't offer a wide range of colour choices beyond the basic colour wheel. A better paint option for a wider range of colours is acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium. Painting fabric with acrylic paint alone will leave the fabric stiff and uncomfortable to wear, and the paint will crack. Mixing a textile medium into the acrylic paint will create a washable, permanent fabric paint that will leave fabric flexible and won't crack, bleed or run.

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  1. Select the colours of paint you would like to use on your fabric. (Prewashed and dried 50/50 cotton-blend fabric is best.) Acrylic paint and textile medium come in 2- or 236ml. bottles. Shake the bottles of paint and textile medium well.

  2. Mix one part textile medium to two parts acrylic paint.

  3. Thoroughly mix the acrylic paint and textile medium together with a stirrer until the white of the textile medium has disappeared.

  4. Wash your stirrer and any measuring spoons/cups you might have used immediately with soap and water.

  5. Insert a piece of cardboard covered with waxed paper inside your clothing or under your fabric and start decorating with the paint you just made. Use paintbrushes, stencils, sponges, your fingers, or anything else you want, to give your clothing a one-of-a-kind look.

  6. Air-dry your clothing or fabric for at least 24 hours.

  7. Heat set the paint before wearing or washing. Turn your iron onto the cotton setting, and turn your garment inside out. Lay a scrap piece of fabric or an old T-shirt over the painted area. Press your iron down firmly over the painted area for 20 seconds, lift and move to next area to avoid scorching. Do not slide the iron around. Be sure to iron the entire painted area.

  8. Tip

    When washing your newly painted garment, turn the clothing inside out and wash in cold water. Do not bleach. To make the fabric paint more durable, iron both the inside and outside of the painted area. Be sure to cover the painted area with a piece of fabric before ironing.


    Wear an old T-shirt or smock so you don't get your permanent fabric paint on the clothes you're wearing.

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Things You'll Need

  • Textile medium
  • Stirrer
  • Measuring spoons/cups
  • Soap
  • Cardboard
  • Waxed paper
  • Paint brushes
  • Stencils
  • Sponges
  • Iron

About the Author

Amy Lyn

Amy Lyn has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and development. She has worked with nonprofit, arts, education and technology organizations. Lyn holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Massachusetts.

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