How to Use Fabric Paints

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic paint-applicator bottles
  • Fabric paint pens
  • Printer
  • Dressmaker’s carbon paper
  • Pen
  • Paintbrush

Fabric paints are designed especially for painting embellishments on fabrics. They allow you to design your own clothing in whatever style you wish so that you can create completely one-of-a-kind clothing. With fabric paints, you do not have to spend hours searching through clothing racks looking for a clothing item with a particular design because you can create it yourself. Plus, your clothing will be completely original.

Wash and dry the fabric to remove the sizing and allow for shrinkage without affecting your painted project. Dry iron the fabric to remove any wrinkles, and slip a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the fabric to provide a smooth surface on which to paint.

Purchase liquid embroidery, three-dimensional or puff fabric paints because these paints can be laundered and will not crack or peel. Buy plastic paint-applicator bottles to apply the paint with. These bottles come in a variety of tip sizes to allow for various design styles. You can also purchase fabric paint pens, which are fabric paints prepackaged into pens; these are available in a variety of sizes, as well.

Search for or create an image design on a computer that you would like to transfer to your fabric, and print the image. You may hand-draw your own on a sheet of paper instead.

Place a sheet of dressmaker’s carbon paper onto the fabric where you would like the design to appear. Place the paper containing the image atop the carbon paper, and trace the design using a pen. The dressmaker’s carbon paper will transfer the tracing of the design onto your fabric.

Use the fabric paints to paint the design. Outline the image of the design using the fabric paint pens, or squirt a drop of paint onto a portion of the image and spread it using a paintbrush. Combine the two techniques to create a colored and outlined image.

Allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours, and then turn the fabric inside out and dry iron the back side of the painted design to cause the paint to adhere to the fibers of the fabric. Wait 72 hours before washing and drying the painted fabric to ensure that the paint is completely dry and set, so that it does not smear.


  • Practice painting on scrap pieces of fabric before attempting to paint your favorite clothing items.


  • Always place a piece of cardboard between layers of fabric when using fabric paint because it seeps through fabric and can stain the backside of your clothing.


About the Author

Kayla Lowe has been a freelance writer since 2008. She writes for various online publications and is also the author of the book "Maiden's Blush," a Christian-fiction romance novel. Lowe is pursuing a degree in elementary education.