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How to dye fabric with acrylic paint

Updated April 17, 2017

Acrylic paint is a water-soluble artist's paint that is usually applied to paper or canvas. It is available at art and craft supply shops in tubes, pots or bottles and of varying consistencies and levels of opacity. When acrylic paint is applied to untreated fabric and allowed to dry, it is permanent making it an easy-to-use fabric dye.

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  1. Squirt or scoop a small amount (a quarter-sized dollop) of paint into a 9 litre (2 gallon) bucket filled two-thirds full of water. Stir until the paint is fully diluted.

  2. Dunk fabric into the bucket submerging completely. Keep the fabric completely submerged until it is saturated with dye.

  3. Remove fabric and lie flat on newspaper to dry.

  4. Paint on the fabric with acrylic paint that has been thinned with a small amount of water if you want to create a painterly look. The painted marks will run and bleed if painted on wet fabric and will resemble tie-dye. If you wait until the fabric is dry and then paint on it, the paint will be permanent but will have a more precise look and might be more stiff to the touch when it dries.

  5. Wash the fabric separately in cold water and either hang to air dry or place in the dryer on a low setting. The areas that have been dyed and painted might remain slightly stiff but will soften with repeated washings.

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Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paint
  • Newspaper
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Paint brushes

About the Author

Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.

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