Give Your Old Fabrics a Makeover With These Painting Techniques

Fabric Painting Techniques
If you have learned how to paint on fabric, then perhaps knowing about the different fabric painting techniques will help you take your passion even further. Read the following article as we talk about the various techniques of fabric painting...
ArtHearty Staff
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
What is fabric painting? The art of using paint which converts a plain fabric into a beautiful design. The great thing about this style of painting is that a person doesn't have to be Pablo Picasso in order to take a whack at painting on fabric. We've all tried our hands at drawing and painting when we were kids, and you can transform those skills here as well. With proper tools and material required to paint on fabric, you can easily get started. Apart from synthetic fabric, other natural-fiber and cotton-polyester (50-50) fabrics have the capability of holding paint easily. With the use of special fabric paints such as translucent paints, metallic and pearlescent paints, acrylic paints, and textile paints, you can easily begin designing and painting on various fabrics.
However, before you begin, it is imperative to know the different types of fabric painting techniques which can be used to paint on t-shirts, shoes, sweatshirts, hats, aprons, curtains, tote bags, etc. Once you decide which fabric you wish to paint over, and have an idea as to which designs you wish to try, you can choose the appropriate techniques. To understand what are these techniques, read the following section properly.
Types of Fabric Painting
If you have never dabbled this kind of painting (using fabric or paper), then may I make a suggestion. Instead of going for more complex fabrics like silk, muslin, or cotton-polyester, select 100% cotton fabric. Choose either white, black, or any other dark-colored fabric to get started. Once you have all the necessary tools to start painting, choose from any of the following techniques.
  • Airbrushing - You can paint fabrics such as 100% cotton, denim, and other natural fibers with airbrushing technique. A small tool, an airbrush is filled with the paint and is used to create the designs and patterns. As the paint comes out in a spray form, you have to make sure that there isn't any buildup of paint on the fabric.
  • Dyeing & Staining - You must've heard about tie dye technique where fabrics are stained or dyed in various patterns. With this technique, you have the option of choosing more than one or two colors to paint the fabric.
  • Marbling - This is by far one of my favorite painting techniques for fabric and paper. In this process, special tools are used to make desired patterns and designs. The design is made over a thick water solution and is then transferred onto the fabric.
  • Screen Printing - Using ink, a screen, stencil, and a roller, you can print images onto any fabric. On the screen/frame, there is a porous mesh that is placed along with the stencil of the desired image. Ink is applied onto the mesh and pressing the roller on top gives the fabric its patterns.
  • Stamping - Similar to woodblock printing, in order to stamp fabric, you need to use proper stamps which are available in craft stores. You place the fabric on the workstation, coat the stamps with the choice of color, and press it over the fabric with a little bit of pressure. Once you are finished, just lift the stamp and re-coat it, apply again.
  • Stenciling - A thin sheet of either paper or plastic material is used to paint designs, letters, and images onto the fabric. For this, you need to get a stencil ready for whichever images and designs you want to print on the fabric. Once you have the stencil, you place it on the fabric and use the appropriate size of brush to paint it.
  • Woodblock Printing - In China, India, Egypt, and few other parts of the world, woodblock printing was invented. The surface of a wooden block is cut in a particular design which you wish to copy onto the fabric. When the block is coated with paint, a mirror image of the pattern is imprinted on the fabric. After placing the block on the fabric, even pressure is applied so that the paint sticks to the fabric evenly.
Apart from learning about painting techniques, you can also read the article on fabric paint designs for more information. If you wish to master the skills of fabric painting, you can take the necessary classes to improve your drawing and painting skills along with learning in detail about the different techniques.
Printing block stamp
color bottles with dyes