How to Waterproof Acrylic Paint on Fabric
You can absolutely use acrylic paint on fabric with this one easy trick! Whether you are making fabric wall art or painting a stencil on curtains, I’ll show you how to paint on fabric permanently with this simple tutorial!
Acrylic paint is so versatile but if you want to use it for fabric, there are a few things you should consider. For one thing, it is designed to be used on rigid surfaces as it isn’t flexible enough for fabric. This will eventually lead to the paint cracking and peeling off.
However, you can get have all the benefits of fabric paint by adding a couple of simple steps to your craft or DIY project. There are so many fun projects that require painting on fabric but they can be easily ruined if you don’t have the right paint! For this tutorial, I’m showing you how to make budget-friendly wall decor with fabric and paint.
This is a great tutorial for you if you:
- Want to use acrylic paints that you have on-hand to paint fabric
- Like the color options of acrylic paint
- Want to ensure that your painted fabric project won’t crack or fade
- Would like to know how to make low-cost fabric wall art in less than 10 minutes!
☑️ Before we get into details, you’ll want to go ahead and purchase a high-quality fabric medium. After using several options, here is a durable, flexible and inexpensive fabric medium for any craft project where you need the paint to be permanent: Best Fabric Medium for Acrylic Paint (Click here for the current price.)
(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).
Quick Links to Information in this Post
- 1 How to Waterproof Acrylic Paint on Fabric
- 3 How To Paint On Fabric Permanently
- 4 How to Make Framed Wall Art with Fabric
- 5 How to Make the Best Permanent Paint for Fabric – Butterfly Wall Art Supplies:
- 7 How to Make Wall Art with Fabric – Tutorial
- 8 RENOVATE YOUR FAITH: Surround Yourself with Reminders of God’s Faithfulness
- 9 FREE SCRIPTURE WALL ART PRINTABLES – Over 20 to Choose From!
- 10 How to Make Acrylic Paint on Fabric Permanent – FAQ’s:
- 11 Making Framed Wall Art with Fabric – Related Posts:
- 12 Acrylic Paint on Fabric, YouTube Video
- 13 How to Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric – Final Thoughts
- 14 How to Waterproof Acrylic Paint on Fabric
Best Permanent Paint for Fabric
Before we get started, it’s important to define terms. Acrylic craft paint is sold in the little bottles in most craft stores. They come in hundreds of color options and are usually less than $1.00 each.
Acrylic Paint is a fast-drying paint made that is made of pigments suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are usually used for arts and crafts projects and are more expensive than the acrylic latex paint you might use on your walls or furniture (Check out my post on the Best Paint for Furniture).
While acrylic paint has good adhesion and drives fast but those properties don’t always make it the best paint for fabric. For one thing, the properties that make it fast drying, don’t make it very flexible and workable.
How To Paint On Fabric Permanently
The easiest and most versatile to paint on fabric permanently is by adding a fabric medium to any color of acrylic paint. There is a big advantage to using acrylic paint to make permanent fabric. For one thing, there are almost unlimited color options. Also, it can be found at any fabric store or online and is very inexpensive. Painting fabric has never been so easy!
What is Fabric Medium?
When painting on fabric with acrylics it is best to use fabric medium to make acrylic paint permanent on fabric. For one thing, it improves the flexibility and adhesion of the paint onto the fabric. It also enhances blending and workability on all textiles and unprimed canvases. Fabric medium also makes the material softer even where paint is applied. Most importantly, it makes the painted fabric permanent after washing. The main ingredients in fabric medium are water-based binders which make your paint more flexible and workable. It will easily interlock between the fabric fibers to make a web of paint that won’t crack or flake off.
Why Not Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric without Medium?
Acrylic paint has tons of uses but I don’t recommend it on fabric by itself. If you don’t use a fabric medium your painted fabric surface will crack because acrylic paint on it’s own isn’t very flexible. Also, the medium makes your acrylic paint more workable – by this I mean that it makes the dry time a little longer. This is an important consideration for fabric painting because it can take a little longer to paint sections of fabric. The workability of the fabric medium allows you to go back and smooth out any paint on fabric so that it doesn’t dry and get clumpy on you.
The fabric medium also makes the painted surface softer and less abrasive, making it more comfortable for the wearer. It even makes the colors brighter as they are more easily absorbed into the fabric to give it a more solid look as if the fabric was printed with those colors in the first place.
Best Acrylic Paint Fabric Medium
There are several fabric mediums on the market but the Martha Steward Fabric Medium (click here for the current price) is the only one can be mixed with any brand of acrylic paint. Paints mixed with the Martha Steward Fabric Medium hold up to washing time and time again. Also, I haven’t seen any color fading as the medium is very opaque. Last it makes the painted area very soft, almost like the painted portions ares just part of the fabric.
How to Make Framed Wall Art with Fabric
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make permanent fabric paint from acrylic paint for some framed butterfly wall art! I’ve actually had these hanging in my office for some time but figured it was time to do a tutorial on them because every time someone comes into my office, they are the first thing they notice – which surprises me because I thought the first thing they would notice would be the desk made out of a door.
How to Make the Best Permanent Paint for Fabric – Butterfly Wall Art Supplies:
Acrylic Paint – Any brand will work with the fabric medium above but here are great deals on Amazon: Acrylic Paint Sets
Fabric – I love Premier Prints fabric because they have coordinating patterns. For example, I used fabric from the Premier Prints Village Blue series for my office curtains, pillow and this all wall art. You can see them here: Premier Prints Village Blue Fabric Options and can see other Premier Print color options here: Premier Print Fabric Options
Frames – You can buy frames or I spray painted some old frames that were my mother-in-laws. If you go the spray painting route, I recommend Rustoleum Universal spray paints here.
Scissors – I know everyone has scissors but I LOVE these for fabric or any detailed cutting: My Favorite Scissors! I own three pairs. (check the current price here)
Paint Brushes – I like this inexpensive set because you have a small one for the edges and a larger one for filling in the butterflies: Set of Art Brushes (check the current price here)
How to Make Wall Art with Fabric – Tutorial
Step 1: How to Paint on Fabric Permanently
You can use just about any fabric with acrylic paint and fabric medium but you want to pick something fairly durable so it holds up to washing. I like to use upholstery fabrics and you can find small amounts for projects like this in the fabric links in the supply list above. Sometimes fabric stores will have bins of materials that are samples. Depending on your project size, you might be able to score some really nice upholstery fabric this way.
IMPORTANT: Before you paint your fabric, be sure to wash and dry it so it does any shrinking before you paint it. If it shrinks after being painted, the painted area could come out distorted. Ask me how I know!
TIP: Like I mentioned above, I love the Premier Print fabrics because they offer coordinating color sets of fabrics so you can easily coordinate a pillow or curtains to go with your wall art. You can see color options here: Premier Print Color Collections And you can buy very small quantities here, just search for the fabric name: Where to Buy Premier Prints
I found fabric with butterflies already in the pattern of the fabric and just painted the butterflies. The fabric is called Barber Bird Village Blue Natural and you can find it here. You can easily do the same with floral fabrics where you just paint an individual flower and frame the fabric piece around that flower. Another option is to get a stencil and stencil a butterfly over a floral pattern. You can see lots of stencil options here: Flower & Butterfly Stencils
Step 2: Cut Your Fabric Before Painting
Once you have picked your paint color and fabric, it’s time to cut your fabric to size. Cut it just larger than the frame edge or matte of the frame (if you use a matte like I did). You don’t have to cut it straight but just make sure it’s bigger than the matte or frame edge.
IMPORTANT: If you use old pictures frames, now is the time to spray paint them so they can dry for 48 hours before you frame your fabric wall art.
Step 3: Mix the Acrylic Paint Fabric Medium Mixture
I like to use a one to one ratio of acrylic paint to fabric medium although the instructions say to mix two parts paint to one part medium. Combine both together and mix them well. If you find the paint mixture is too thick as you paint it on the fabric, you can always more medium to thin it some.
TIP: I like to use condiment cups (see the current price here) for mixing paint because they are disposable and you can see if your paint is mixed well. They also have lids so you can store any extra paint that wasn’t used.
Step 4: How to Apply Acrylic Paint on Fabric
IMPORTANT: Before painting, be sure to put something under your fabric because there’s a good chance the paint will soak through. Wax paper isn’t always waterproof so I prefer foil or a cutting board wrapped in plastic wrap.
After experimenting with how to paint on fabric, I’ve found it’s best to paint a thin border first. Using a small brush, I like to outline the edges of my butterflies. I’d do the same if I was using a stencil. Once the edges are outlined, I fill in with a larger brush so it goes a little faster.
Step 5: How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric
After the fabric has dried for 24 hours, it’s now time to iron over your painted fabric to seal in the paint. Put your iron on low to medium heat and iron over the painted areas, keeping your iron moving so you don’t burn the fabric.
By applying heat to the painted fabric, you are allowing the paint to completely cure into the fabric fibers making it more durable and waterproof.
TIP: To give extra protection to your painted fabric, you can lay a thin piece a fabric between your iron and the painted fabric if you feel more comfortable.
How to Heat Seal Fabric Paint
There are a few different methods of heat sealing fabric paint that I wanted you to be aware of. Once you heat-set the painted fabric, it’s there forever!
- Iron – This is the easiest by far as long as you make sure your iron isn’t too hot. Simply iron over the painted area just like you’d iron any other piece of fabric
- Oven – You can place your fabric in the oven for a few minutes as long as you don’t set your oven temperature over 250 degrees. For obvious reasons, I don’t recommend this method!
- Dryer – The dryer method takes longer but it is super easy. Just place the fabric in the dryer on medium-high heat for 40-50 minutes. If you have very delicate fabrics, you might want to stick with the ironing method.
Step 6: The Final Step to Apply Acrylic Paint on Fabric
Ironing also serves the purpose of making your fabric straight and stiff so it’s easy to frame. Simply place your fabric into the frame. You can add some scotch tape to the edges if you are concerned it won’t stay in place against the matte.
DON’T FORGET TO TAKE A PICTURE!
Now that you are done, I’d love to see how it turned out! ❤️ Post your before and after photos here!
RENOVATE YOUR FAITH: Surround Yourself with Reminders of God’s Faithfulness
I made these frames about 5 years ago but I am just now getting around to doing a tutorial. Soon after that time, I had a tremendous struggle with anxiety as I detail in my post: How to Overcome Anxiety & Depression
I made the frames early that year and my struggle was not until October. At the time, I saw a Christian counselor who was vital to help me replace thoughts of fear and worry with thoughts based on the truth of God’s Word. One day at the end of a session, she told me to look for God’s blessings around me.
Around that time, I remember seeing lots of butterflies, which is odd because it was getting cold, even in Texas. Everywhere I went, I saw butterflies – in the car, in the backyard and even artwork at my child’s school.
The more I thought about butterflies, the more I realized God’s capacity to turn even the darkest situations into seasons of hope. Just like a butterfly was once a caterpillar, He can turn any ugly situation into one of beauty and purpose.
God turns dark into light, discouragement into inspiration, despair into hope, hurt into healing and sorrow into joy.
So every time I saw a butterfly, it was like a kiss on the check from God Himself. It was an unmistakable reminder during a rough season of anxiety that He saw me, knew I was hurting and longed to transform my fear into trust.
So here I sit today, looking back at that horrible time of desperation and fear. I can see how God not only prepared me for the situation but He was there ahead of me.
“He is before all things and in Him, all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
These butterfly prints were already hanging on the wall by my desk and He knew I would need these reminders of hope. He was already in that horrible season ahead of me, waiting to comfort me. Because He knew I would need that encouragement and it was hanging there on my own wall waiting for me to look up.
Nothing surprises God. He knows the troubles we will face and prepares a way out well in advance. He not only wants to ease our pain and deliver us from trouble but He is already there waiting for us in the storm.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation, know that He was prepared away before you and He will be there for you to rely on every step of the way!
If you want to learn more about how God helped me overcome anxiety, click here: How Should Christians Respond to Anxiety & Depression
To give you some encouragement on dealing with trials, click here: Trusting Christ in Tough Times
For more spiritual encouragement, click here for the rest of my Renovate Your Faith Posts.
FREE SCRIPTURE WALL ART PRINTABLES – Over 20 to Choose From!
Get the password for the library with the free pattern and SVG files here by filling out this form:
How to Make Fabric Paint Last Longer – Painted Fabric Care:
Even though this process will give you a beautiful and durable home décor or craft project, extra care should always be taken when washing and drying painted fabric. Use the cold gentle (or handwash) cycle on your washer. And if you don’t have to put it in the dryer, don’t. Just air dry and then go over it with a low iron if needed.
TIP: Even if you don’t plan on every putting your fabric in the dryer, be sure to wash and dry the unpainted fabric before you start your project. This is because even if you have it dry-cleaned fabrics can shrink and you don’t want your painted fabric to look distorted because of shrinking.
How to Make Acrylic Paint on Fabric Permanent – FAQ’s:
Can you use acrylic paint on denim?
You can use the same process above to apply acrylic paint and fabric medium to denim. I would just be careful when washing it and use lower washer and dryer settings than I would on normal denim.
What is the best acrylic paint for fabric?
My two favorite kinds of acrylic paint are Apple Barrel and Martha Stewart. Both are made by the same manufacturer, Plaid. Since Apple Barrel is usually cheaper, I’d opt for them. However, Martha Stewart acrylic paint comes in a lot of cool sheens and shades that Apple Barrel doesn’t including glitter paints, pearls and metallics:
Is Apple Barrel Paint Washable?
On it’s own, acrylic paint is not washable! It will stain clothes even if left on them a few seconds. Even “washable” paints can still stain clothes at times. The reason you want to mix a fabric medium with acrylic paint is so that the paint does crack or chip over time.
Can you use acrylic paint on fabric shoes?
You can use acrylic paint on shoes, uggs, aprons, wall hangings, curtains, etc. The options are endless with this technique!
Is there a fabric medium for latex paint?
You can mix latex paint and fabric medium to paint fabric. On smaller projects like an apron, wall art or even a pattern on curtains, I would use the Martha Stewart fabric medium I listed above.
But on an upholstery project where you are going to be painted a very large area, I recommend this:
I recommend this product because it is thinner which is what you want for painting a solid piece of upholstery and it is cheaper than the other one. Kim at kimandsix.com gives all the details on this process and you can see how well her chair turned out here: How to Paint Upholstery
How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric Without Medium
If you paint on fabric without using a fabric medium, you can still seal your fabric using the above method with the iron.
How to Paint on Fabric without Bleeding
Bleeding paint is a problem when either the paint is too thin but fortunately, if you are using acrylic paint and fabric medium, you won’t run into this problem. Both acrylic paint and fabric medium have a thick consistency that will prevent bleeding.
Making Framed Wall Art with Fabric – Related Posts:
Acrylic Paint on Fabric, YouTube Video
How to Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric – Final Thoughts
Now that you know how to paint on fabric permanently, you can use the same process to paint fabric wall art, shoes, denim, or any wall hanging. This process will give you lots of color options that are budget-friendly making any project turn out beautifully!
I love to hear your thoughts and questions! Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️
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How to Waterproof Acrylic Paint on Fabric
Welcome to Renovated Faith, where I share about DIY projects, my faith and everything in between! When I’m not spending time with my family, you will find me redoing furniture in the garage or watering plants in my greenhouse. This blog is about transformation. Anyone can renovate a house but only God can transform our hearts!