Most of the projects I teach my students are painted in class on wood or MDF (medium density fibreboard).
Having said that, the beauty of what I teach in my decorative painting classes is that you can paint the same subject matter on many other different surfaces. The medium we use – acrylic paint – is very versatile and can be used to paint on canvas, metal, leather, fabric, even candles and plastic!
Today I had a class with a student who had a red piece of linen-like fabric on which she wanted to paint roses. When completed she would have the painted fabric fitted onto the cover of a tea-box which she will give to her sister for Christmas. I suggested really red roses and she loved the idea. Red is after all, very festive this time of year.
The finished painting was really very nice, bravo! I’m sure her sister will be very proud to receive such a nice piece of work, and for sure its going to be a family heirloom!
Painting on fabric is an easily learned skill, especially if you have painted the subject matter on a wooden item before.
Some things to note about painting on fabric are as follows:
Your fabric should, preferably, be “mounted” onto a piece of cardboard. This serves two purposes – firstly, your fabric won’t move around when you scrub your strokes, and secondly, the cardboard absorbs the paint that seeps through the fabric. I use masking tape and this is easily removed once the painting is completed.
As with painting on wood, you can trace your pattern onto your fabric using the regular transfer paper or if you prefer, the transfer paper specifically produced for fabrics. You would buy this in a haberdashery. Of course you can also free-hand a design onto your fabric using a water soluble pencil or fabric pencil.
The brush is normally “scrubbed” into the fabric otherwise the paint doesn’t get transferred to the fabric – so you would need a flat or angle brush with stiffer bristles than those used for painting on wood.
Because I paint mainly with acrylic paint, I have never tried fabric paint to paint any of my designs on fabric. I simply use my acrylic paint with a fabric medium and it works out really great. I can use my favourite colours and apply my colour palettes to any of the projects I want to paint.
There are many different brands available on the market but I have used DecoArt Americana fabric medium as well as Jo Sonja’s textile medium and both convert acrylic paint into a fabric paint which easily penetrates and bonds with fabric. Both are permanent on the fabric once heat-set and the painted fabrics are hand-washable.
Once painted, your fabric needs to be heat set to create permanence. Heat setting also softens your painted fabric.
Its easy to have a go at fabric painting: all you need are your decorative painting instructions, a piece of fabric, an old shirt or T-shirt, you acrylic paints and some fabric medium and you’re all set!