Shopping for fabric paint can be fun and exciting if you know what you're buying. And let's face it, it's a jungle out there in craft land!
There are many brands as well as special painting mediums that are added to regular acrylic paints. So you'll need to decide on a few things right from the start.
Which fabric will you be painting on? Do you want to invest in a whole new line of paints dedicated just to painting on fabric? Or would you prefer a more economic route and just use an additive to your existing acrylic paint collection?
Of course for me, I want to paint on all sorts of fabrics and I want to use all the products I can get my hands on. This way, I can play around and experiment and then give you my honest feedback about all the products I try.
WHY CAN'T I JUST USE MY ACRYLICS? I get asked that a lot. After all, if you accidentally get paint on your clothes it's pretty darn hard to get it off! Right?
The simple fact is, on their own, acrylics are not flexible enough. They remain stiff, will crack and eventually peel off.
If you already have acrylic paints, you may be partial to a particular paint company. Likely they may carry a line of fabric paints. Choosing a product from a company you trust is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I say: "start there."
You could also take advice from fellow painting friends. Perhaps they absolutely swear by the product they use and find it superior to any other. Maybe they'd agree to let you sample a little. I mean, what a friends for?
Or just bite the bullet and buy a few bottles from different manufacturers and try them yourself to get a feel for how they perform. Some companies actually sell sampler kits at a very reasonable price. In my opinion, you can't beat hands on experience!
Or you stick with your existing acrylic paints, to which you can add a medium that will render them to a formulation that will work on fabric. In the long run it's more economical and it takes up less space!
Your choice may also be driven by a particular project you want to do. The project designer will likely make reference to certain products. In this case it's a no-brainer. Just get the recommended product and you'll achieve the desired results.
I'm really happy with the products I've used, so it's a pleasure to share my experience with you. Ultimately, you'll decide which you prefer.
So, in no particular order… here's a lineup of paint for fabric.
DECOART SOSOFT FABRIC ACRYLICS: This soft fabric paint is yummy and oh so soft to the touch. Dreamy to work with and you can't beat the coverage. They are really opaque! You don't need to add a medium and get this; they don't need to be set with heat!! And you can choose from over 60 colors. I had a pair of jeans painted with the SoSoft paints and I wore them all the time, until I slimmed out of them, but that's a whole 'nuther story. Tossed into the washer, dryer, you name it… the color never faded and never lost its softness.
PLAID FABRIC PAINTS: These are very soft and flexible. The colors are very vivid and coverage is excellent on both pale and dark fabrics. Choose from over 20 highly pigmented colors.
AMERICANA (DECOART) FABRIC PAINTING MEDIUM: A great medium to add to the Americana acrylics. Once mixed with the acrylics it performs very nicely. It's particularly good on denim and other heavy cottons. Well worth experimenting with. Needs heat setting.
JACQUARD TEXTILE COLORS: Right out of the bottle, this product is absolutely beautiful to work with. This textile paint comes in over 30 colors, which can be mixed to create even more colors. They're semi-opaque and can be further thinned to create watercolor effects. This is a very versatile product. Heat setting is necessary.
DELTA CERAMCOAT TEXTILE MEDIUM: Add to Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paints. With this one you have to let the fabric dry / cure for 7 days and then you heat set it. I'm way too impatient for this product but it works really well. So it's another option.
GAC 900 by Golden Artist Colors: GAC 900 by Golden is absolutely wonderful to work with. When mixed with the Golden fluid acrylics, it has the least impact on the feel and flexibility of the fabric. It needs heat setting. Learn more here.
LIQUITEX FABRIC MEDIUM: This medium does not offer the same flexibility as the GAC900 mentioned above. But it does perform very well and it doesn't require heat setting.
WHAT ABOUT FABRIC MARKERS AND FABRIC PAINT PENS? You can have a lot of fun with fabric markers. Most come in a broad-line tip but some do offer finer tips. Most manufacturers recommend heat setting.
I've had great results using Crayola Fabric Markers, Jacquard Tee Juice Fabric Markers, and Marvy Fabric Markers.
For professional results though, I recommend PEBEO SETASKRIB MARKERS. The colors are unbeatable… they are so luminous and vivid. They come in fine, broad as well as brush-style tips. You can imagine the possibilities I'm sure!
ARE FABRIC CRAYONS JUST FOR KIDS? Hey, aren't we all kids at heart? Actually Crayola (yes, the crayons you remember from childhood) has a fabric crayon line and it's really impressive. You draw on a piece of paper (not shiny) and then you iron your design onto your fabric. What's really neat is how vibrant the colors become after they've been heated!
And Pentel has fabric-dyeing pastels called Pentel Fabric Fun. You just draw right onto the fabric. After it has been heat set with an iron, the pastels will dye the fabric for permanent results. Brilliant!
I'VE HEARD OF FABRIC SPRAY PAINT. HOW DO YOU USE IT? Fabric spay paint can be used with stencils or sprayed by itself over large areas or in short spurts for controlled applications.
Tulip brand has specific stencil fabric spray paint, which has a wide trigger nozzle for a continuous spray. It also has a fabric spray paint with a finger pump spray head for freeform spraying. The paint remains flexible.
Then there's Simply Spray Fabric Paints. Some formulas are ideal for home décor, or for garments. They even have one that puts "Black" back into stretch sportswear like yoga pants and tank tops…I haven't tried that one yet. And they've even produced a fabric spray paint that will restore faded things like upholstery and car interiors, you name it!
Simply Spray Fabric Paints also have a stencil fabric paint that magically puffs up when you use a hairdryer to heat it up! Now that's really cool on a denim jacket!
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS FABRIC INK? Yes there is. The fact is I haven't had an opportunity to try them out yet. But when I do, I'll tell you all about it.
So now you know a little more about fabric paints and you can make an informed choice when you go shopping. Have fun, be wildly creative and experiment to your heart's content!