Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric?

Will artistic acrylics work on fabric? And if yes, then on what fabrics they will work the best? We will answer these and other questions today!

Having custom clothes that only you wear is chic! Even if it is just a regular cotton t-shirt, but it has a unique ornament or pattern on it, you will already stand out of the crowd! Especially if that pattern is hand-made.

This is probably why more and more people decide to try and paint their daily clothes themselves.

However, if you decide to refresh your wardrobe one day by handmade paintings, you might face a common issue: can you use water based acrylic paint on fabric?

See, acrylic paints are the most popular and widely used for applying drawings and paintings on your clothes. So naturally folks would like to know how well these paints will work on their garments.

This is why we decided to help you out a bit with that today. From the article below you will find out whether or not regular artistic acrylic paints can be used on your clothes.

Also, we will tell you what types of acrylic paint are the most optimal for this type of DIY project. Finally, we will tell you more about different types of fabric and the way acrylics will work on them.

And of course, you will learn plenty of useful tips and life hacks that will help you to create your very own masterpiece and wear it proudly!

Can You Use Regular Acrylic Paint On Fabric?

Those of you who  just start their artistic journey may be wondering whether it is possible to apply regular artistic acrylic paints on fabrics. Well, we understand where the roots of this question go, in fact. Since this paint can be used on canvas (which is technically fabric), then it can also be used on clothes – that’s how most of you might think.

However, we need to clarify one thing. Regular artistic acrylic paints that you can find in craft stores are not designed for being applied on fabrics!

These paints are way too thick, and they will not create a thin enough layer of paint on the material. As a result, you will end up with a painting that looks too messy.

However, it does not mean that acrylics can’t be used on fabrics at all! What does it mean, you may be wondering? It’s very simple! See, to get better results, you will have to get the item ready for the painting process.

And also, in order the painting sticks to the surface of the material way better, it is recommended that you prepare the paint as well.

  • The item must be washed and ironed before you start applying painting on it.
  • The paint (or paints) that will be used must be mixed with a special fabric medium to make them work better on fabric.

Now let us explain in more detail. Let’s start with the fabric. If you want to paint on your item with acrylic paints, you need to wash the apparel first.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric
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Like that, the fabric will become better susceptible to paint and the painting will attach to it easier and faster.

As for the paint itself, if you mix it with a special medium, it will become thinner and thus it will be easier for you to apply it.

Also, a paint that is mixed with a fabric medium lasts longer after you apply it which means that your garment will serve you longer as well!
But will all fabrics accept acrylics the same well?

Can You Use Regular Acrylic Paint On Fabric
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Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric Without a Medium?

First of all, let’s figure out whether acrylic paints will work on fabrics well enough if you don’t add fabric medium into them.

As you probably know, fabric medium helps the paint become more flexible after it dries, allowing it to move and bend with the material. Without the medium, regular artistic acrylic paint may crack or peel!

Of course, such a painting will not last long on your garment. Of course, you could skip using the medium for projects like art pieces or decorations. However, clothing requires adding fabric medium in any case.

But if you do want to avoid using medium for any reason, there is another way to go without fabric medium. Just select an ordinary fabric paint!

You could also use medium-grit sandpaper to rub the fabric’s surface or spritz it with water from a spray bottle before painting to help the paint adhere to the surface.

10 AMAZING Acrylic Pour Paintings - Pretty with Pink / Satisfying Art video10 AMAZING Acrylic Pour Paintings – Pretty with Pink / Satisfying Art video

Related: Can I Use Acrylic Paint On My Face?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Satin Fabric?

Many of those who are just at the beginning of their creative path often wonder whether acrylic paint will dry and will work well on satin fabric. And the answer is yes! This type of paint will apply perfectly but only if you remember to make use of a special textile medium.

Acrylic paint will blend seamlessly into the fabric as long as it is used.

This type of paint can be used on fabric without a medium as well, by the way. However, even though acrylic paint can be used on fabric without a medium, you should always use a fabric medium when painting on fabric you will wear for example a t-shirt.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Satin Fabric
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Related: How to Fix Lumpy Acrylic Paint?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Nylon Fabric?

If you have items that are made of nylon, you might be wondering how well acrylic paint is attached to them. Luckily, this paint is pretty versatile! You can successfully paint your nylon items with it.

Only remember to mix in some fabric medium before you start getting creative! Using a medium will help your paint to attach way better, and besides, it will also make the painting more durable.

However, as an alternative solution, you can simply buy a fabric paint at once! This is a way simpler method since you will not have to mess up with mixing paints and medium and measuring the amount of both substances to get the desired results!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Nylon Fabric
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Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Cotton Fabric?

Cotton is probably one of the best fabrics for painting on it! Especially with acrylic paints. However, even such an easy-to-paint-on fabric will also need that magical fabric medium!

Or, if you don’t feel like spending extra time on mixing paints and mediums, you can simply go to the nearest craft store and buy special fabric paints.

Those are already designed for being applied on multiple types of fabrics and come in a wide variety of colors!

So, as you can see, painting your clothes with acrylic paints is possible. However, even then there are still way too many additional questions you might want to know the answers to!

So below we have collected the most common ones and did our best to provide you with the most detailed answers. Hope you will find this information useful!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Cotton Fabric
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How to Get the Fabric Ready For Painting? Useful Tips And Recommendations

Let’s say, you have a t-shirt and you want to paint something on it to make it look cooler! That’s great! But what shall you do exactly? Do you just need to grab paints, brushes, and start painting?

Hold on, hold on, not so fast! First of all, you need to prep the item! Otherwise, if you don’t do this, the painting will not be attached properly which may result in its peeling off pretty soon.

This is why, before you can paint fabric with acrylics, you must prepare the surface. The process is affordable and accessible. You’ll need a fabric medium and the acrylic paint you plan to use.

What to start with? Wash the fabric first.

How to Get the Fabric Ready For Painting Useful Tips And Recommendations (2)
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The washing cycle allows the fabric to maintain its original form. It should not shrink or stretch unexpectedly afterward and destroy your new paint job with an initial wash!

Cleaning the material also removes dust, debris, and other particles that could keep the paint from adhering to the fabric properly.

Next, you should iron the fabric as well. Painting on wrinkled fabric is complicated, so the iron helps produce a smooth and manageable surface.

And only after you complete these two preparatory steps, mix regular acrylic paint with a fabric medium or prepare the material with sandpaper.

If you are painting a t-shirt, adding a piece of a stiff cardboard inside the item could help keep unwanted paint from showing through to the other side as well.

How to Get the Fabric Ready For Painting Useful Tips And Recommendations
Credits: turgayada, via Crello.com

What Benefits Will I Get If I Use a Fabric Medium?

Many people choose to skip using a fabric medium when they begin painting with acrylic paints on their clothes. You may also feel tempted to skip the fabric medium step and start painting acrylics directly onto the fabric! However, we must warn you that in this case, the result would not satisfy you.

See, acrylic paint is not flexible enough when it is in its pure form, this is why it is hard for it to remain on natural materials without a medium.

As acrylic paint dries, it becomes hard. Everyone knows that. Also, this paint tends to flake or crack when the painting made with it bends or folds. It may even chip away entirely when you wash a shirt painted with acrylics!

The paint is also easy to apply too thickly, which will produce an unfavorable finish.

However, by using a fabric medium, you will easily cure all these issues. Diluting the acrylic paint with a fabric medium makes the paint more flexible, thinner, and softer. The formula comes out as a better medium for your fabric to absorb, and it shouldn’t come off in the wash anymore.

What Benefits Will I Get If I Use a Fabric Medium
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How to Make a Homemade Fabric Medium. Simple Recipe

It may so happen that you don’t have a commercial fabric medium at hand when you need it badly for turning your old t-shirt into a masterpiece. What shall you do? Do you have to rush to the store in search of the medium?

That’s not quite necessary! Instead, you can make your very own homemade fabric medium, and it will not take you much time!

By the way, the recipe does not require the use of any expensive or difficult to get ingredients.

It’s just vinegar and glycerine that you will need. But let us explain in detail step by step.

Once again, if you don’t have a commercial fabric medium, you could make a DIY fabric medium instead. The alternative we suggest you comes from common household ingredients like vinegar and glycerine.

How to Make a Homemade Fabric Medium. Simple Recipe
Credits: turgayada, via Crello.com

To add vinegar to acrylic paint, you need to prepare it with an equal part of glycerine and two parts water. The formula is similar to oil paint. However, you can pour the liquid into your acrylic paint until it becomes the consistency you prefer.

Using a homemade medium from the vinegar is ideal for creating an ink-like quality. It might be useful if you want to apply painting that looks airy and uses light strokes. It is also excellent for stamping paint, by the way!

With these tips and life hacks, as well as being “armed” with a recipe of a homemade fabric medium, you will be able to create any painting, pattern, or print on your clothes thus turning them into unique items that only you have!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Can any fabric medium be used with acrylics?

No. You must use an acrylic fabric medium.

⭐ What clothes can be painted with acrylics?

Anything from t-shirts to dresses, jackets, and jeans!

⭐ How to seal acrylic paint on fabric?

Do it by heat setting.

Written by Melinda Sherween
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Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
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