Art History Lab

Creating Long-Lasting Designs: Tips for Using Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric? Acrylic paint has gained popularity over time for its versatility and the vibrant colors it produces.

While it is primarily used on canvases, paper, and wood, people also use acrylic paint on fabric. But can you use acrylic paint on fabric?

Yes, you can, but it requires specific techniques and methods, especially if you want to create a long-lasting design. In this article, we will discuss how to use acrylic paint on fabric to achieve the best possible results.

Using Acrylic Paint on Fabric with a Medium

Acrylic fabric medium is a paint additive that allows you to mix regular acrylic paints with it to create a durable fabric paint. It enhances the paint’s workability, durability, and adherence to the fabric.

Additionally, it eliminates the stiffness that can result from using paint alone and makes the fabric feel softer. Here are some steps to follow when using acrylic paint with a fabric medium:


Before painting your fabric, it is essential to pre-wash it to remove any dirt or chemicals. Straightening the fabric and protecting the surface with a protective layer will also ensure that the paint does not bleed through to the other side.

Stretching the Fabric

Stretch the fabric onto a canvas to create a smooth and even surface to work on.

Acrylic Paint Consistency

Acrylic paints come in different consistencies, from fluid to heavy body. For optimal results when painting on fabric, a medium-body paint works best.

It is thick enough to provide quality coverage without spreading too thinly.

Test Paint

First, test the acrylic paint on a small part of the fabric to ensure it does not wash out or bleed when washed.

Drying Time

Ensure the paint is dry before moving or touching the fabric.

Tips for Using Acrylic on Fabric Without Medium

If you do not want to use fabric medium, you can still use acrylic paint to decorate fabric. However, it requires a different approach to ensure that the design remains intact.

Sanding Fabric

Sand your fabric with sandpaper to remove any stiffeners or coatings that may affect the design’s adherence. Light pressure and brief passes are sufficient.

Lightly Wet the Fabric

Dampen your fabric lightly before painting. The moisture helps the paint adhere to the fabric, making the design last longer.

Thinning Acrylics

Thin out the acrylic paint slightly with water before painting directly onto fabric. It ensures that the paint spreads evenly, reducing the chance of cracking or peeling.

Layering Paint

For the design to last longer, paint several layers instead of one thick one. The paint will last longer and dry more precisely with the different layers.

After Care Tips When Using Acrylic Paints on Fabric

When dealing with acrylic paint designs, proper aftercare is critical to ensure their longevity.

Washing Instructions

Acrylic paint on fabric should be hand washed or washed in the cold cycle with like-colored fabrics. Hot water can peel or crack the paint.

Spot Cleaning

Avoid spot cleaning acrylic painted fabric as it causes the paint to discolor or peel. Hand wash the entire fabric garment instead.

Drying Time

When washing your acrylic painted fabric garment, avoid tumble drying it. Hang dry it instead to prevent the paint from cracking.


Avoid ironing directly on acrylic painted fabric garments. Using a pressing cloth will prevent the paint from melting into your iron.

In conclusion, acrylic paint is an excellent choice for fabric projects. Using a fabric medium enhances the quality of the finished design, creating a long-lasting result.

If you have limited resources, using pure acrylic paint is still an option, as long as you use the appropriate techniques. Remember to follow the aftercare tips to increase the longevity of your design.

With this guide, you can now use acrylic paint with confidence on your fabric projects.

How to Use Acrylic on Fabric

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including fabric. There are different approaches to using acrylic paint on fabric depending on the desired outcome.

In this article, we will explore various tips for using acrylic paint on fabric, discuss how to heat-set acrylic paint on fabric, and answer frequently asked questions about acrylic paint on fabric.

Tips for Using Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Wetting Fabric

Before painting, you can lightly wet the fabric to help the acrylic paint adhere better. The moisture helps the paint spread more evenly and reduces the likelihood of cracking or peeling.

Using Fabric Medium

When painting on fabric, using a fabric medium is recommended to enhance the paint’s workability and durability. The fabric medium is a paint additive that creates a durable fabric paint and helps the paint adhere better to the fabric.

It also eliminates stiffness that can come from using paint alone.

Paint Nozzles

Acrylic paint nozzles can be used to create unique effects on fabric such as watercolor effects, spray effects, and fine lines. The nozzle’s size and shape determine the kind of effect you can achieve on the fabric.

Experiment with different nozzle shapes to achieve the desired effect.

Lighter Fabrics

Acrylic paint works best on lighter fabric types such as cotton, flax, or silk. Darker fabrics may require additional layers or heavier coats of paint, which may not result in a good texture.


When painting on fabric, layering the paint instead of painting one thick coat creates a better-looking result. Multiple layers of paint will last longer and dry evenly.

Using Heat or Heat Setting Acrylic Paint on Fabrics

Heat setting is an effective method of creating a permanent design for acrylic painted fabrics. Heat setting involves applying heat to the painted fabric to set the paint and prevent it from washing off.

Here are some steps to follow when heat setting acrylic paint on fabric:

Drying Time

Allow the painted fabric to dry thoroughly before heat setting. Air-drying is best.

Steam Setting

Once dry, place the fabric on top of a piece of cotton or linen cloth and place a hot iron on top and lightly steam the fabric for 2-3 minutes. Steam setting prevents the paint from cracking.

Low Heat

Set the iron to low heat and place a pressing cloth between the iron and the painted fabric. Iron the painted fabric to seal the paint.

Moving Iron

While ironing, move the iron constantly in circular motion for even heat distribution.

Sealing Paint

After heat setting, sealing the paint with a textile medium or an acrylic clear coat spray will provide added protection to the design.

Frequently Asked Questions about Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Fabric? Yes, acrylic paint can be used on fabric.

It works best on lighter fabrics such as cotton, flax, or silk. Acrylic paint can also be used on dark fabrics, but additional layers of paint may be needed.

How To Use Acrylic Painting On Clothes? When using acrylic paint on clothes, pre-wash the fabric to remove impurities and ensure better paint adherence.

Using a fabric medium improves the paint’s workability, durability, and adherence to the fabric. Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric Without Medium?

Yes, acrylic paint can be used on fabric without a medium. However, it is important to use the right techniques, such as lightly wetting the fabric before painting and layering paint instead of applying one thick coat.


Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used to create vibrant designs on fabric. By following the tips discussed in this article, you can achieve a long-lasting design that is permanent and washable.

From choosing the right fabric to heat setting the design, acrylic paint on fabric can be a fun and creative way to express yourself. In conclusion, using acrylic paint on fabric is a great way to create beautiful and long-lasting designs.

Whether you use a fabric medium or not, ensuring the right techniques and aftercare tips will help your design stand the test of time. Heat setting the paint is an effective method that can seal in the design permanently.

It is important to choose the right fabric, do proper preparation, and use layering techniques for a beautiful finish. Acrylic paint on fabric is a fun and creative way to express yourself, and hopefully, this article has given you the insights to create your own masterpiece.

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