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How to Seal Paint on Fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

You can use many methods to paint on fabric. While professionals may use automatic methods, the home crafter often painstakingly does the work by hand. After spending hours on a fabric painting project to get it just right, it would be a shame not to protect your hard work. Not sealing the paint onto the fabric can lead to discolouration, cracks in the paint, and even the paint peeling or chipping off. Luckily, the process to seal paint onto fabric is very easy and only takes a few minutes.

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  1. Preheat your iron to a medium setting.

  2. Place a piece of cardboard between layers if the painted item is two-sided, such as a T-shirt.

  3. Smooth out the fabric completely, so there are no overlaps or wrinkles. Failure to do so can result in uneven or cracked sealing, ruining your fabric painting project.

  4. Place the thin cloth over the painted part of the fabric and slowly iron over it. Be careful not to stay in one spot too long, as this could cause some areas to look uneven when finished.

  5. Lay the painted fabric out in a cool, dry place to set. Do not touch the paint directly for at least a day to ensure the seal forms properly and without any nicks or botches in the paint.

  6. Tip

    If you have no handkerchief or other thin cloth, turning the item inside out and iron directly onto the fabric. Be sure to still put the piece of cardboard between the layers. If using acrylic paints, use a thin coat of fabric instead of heat to set the colours of the paint. All other paints require heat to seal them.


    Follow all time guidelines from the paint manufacturer regarding drying time before ironing. Failure to do so can cause damage to the paint, fabric and even the iron. Do not use a steam setting on your iron. The moisture from the steam can cause the dried paint to become wet again, making it impossible to seal properly. This can also damage the paint and ruin the project.

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Things You'll Need

  • Piece of flat cardboard, if applicable
  • Iron
  • Thin cloth, such as a handkerchief

About the Author

Melissa Martinez has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2003. She specializes in Web content and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle" and is now the section editor for a minor league sports news wire. She attended Seattle University.

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