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How to Paint With Tri-Chem Liquid Embroidery

Tri-Chem liquid embroidery was the original name of fabric paints created by Tri-Chem. As of May 3, 2011, Tri-Chem sells them under the brand names of Softly Flo, Jewel Jems, Colorlites, Spark-L-On and Slix-Stix. Softly Flo are pastel paints, Jewel Jems are metallic paints, Colorlites are highlighting paints, Spark-L-On are glitter paints and Slix-Stix are shading paints. Tri-Chem fabric paints come in tubes and can be applied to the fabric directly or you can squeeze the paint out onto a palette and use a brush or sponge. You can also use stencils, manufactured or homemade, to create patterns.

Things You'll Need:

  • Hoop Blotter
  • Stencil
  • Cardboard
  • Fabric
  • Masking Tape
  • Soft Lint-Free Cloth

Set the fabric down on a flat work surface. If you are painting a shirt or an article of clothing that has a front and a back, set a piece of cardboard between the layers of fabric to protect the back from any paint that might bleed through. Tape the stencil onto the fabric in the desired position with masking tape.

Remove the cap of the Tri-Chem paint tube. Insert the ball-point tip into the provided tube protector. Turn the tube upside down and hold it in a straight vertical line. Touch the hoop blotter with the ball-point tip. Pinch the crimped end of the tube with your fingers and press the tip down into the blotter. This will make the paint flow through the tip and remove any air bubbles in the tube.

Hold down the stencil with one hand to ensure that the proper amount of fabric is exposed in the stencil holes. Hold the paint tube vertically with your fingers positioned on it as though it is a pen. Gently press down the tube with your thumb to create enough pressure to make the paint flow to the tip. Apply the paint to the exposed fabric in the stencil holes by running the paint tip along the fabric as though you are drawing with it. Start painting at the stencil hole's perimeter and slowly work your way to the center. Pause occasionally while painting to wipe the built-up paint on the tip off with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Apply any highlights or details with a lighter colored paint by "drawing" the paint onto the fabric in the same manner. Wait 15 minutes or until the paint is dry. Carefully remove the stencil by removing the tape and then slowly peeling it up away from the fabric starting at one edge and lifting your way up over to the other.


If you wish to create a shaded or layered look to the liquid embroidery, start painting with dark colors first. Wait 20 minutes for the first layer of paint to dry before applying any highlights or details with a small artist's brush.

When you remove the tip, unscrew it over the hoop blotter so that it catches the ball and spring of the tip if they accidentally fall out.

If you are using Spark-L-On or other water-based Tri-Chem paints, use a cleaning pin to ream out the tip and remove any dried paint that may clog it up. Then clean the tip with warm soapy water to remove paint residue.

Store the tubes with their tips facing down.


  • Do not roll or fold the tube while painting in an attempt to get more paint out. The tube is designed to automatically flatten as the level of paint lowers during use. Always screw off the tips and wash them with warm soapy water after use to prevent paint residue from drying and clogging them up.
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