Painting on Fabric?

K8OrlandoOctober 25, 2011

I have some fabric dyes that I haven't used yet :~(, but I don't think they're right for the project I have in mind. I want to paint a graphic design on 3 white canvas panels. I'll be using them in place of some bi-fold closet doors. The panels will be held back from time to time so the paint needs to be somewhat flexible; I don't want it all to chip off. But it won't cover much of the surface of the panel so the flexibility thing might not be a big deal.

This is the basic design, with a white background, black stems and center spots and red outlined poppies. I don't intend to paint the whole flower red, but I'll have to play with it before I decide.

It's going to be on the wall opposite to the wallhanging I'm making with this panel at the center:

So, what kind of paint should I use? Any ideas? I don't want it to run! It seems to me that those tube paints like people use on sweatshirts would be too 'crafty'; I would rather have something I could apply with a small brush.


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Kate, they make special acrylic paint for fabrics, or you can get fabric medium to add to regular acrylic paint. I have 2 T shirts that I painted probably 20 years ago and the designs still look pretty good after many, many washings.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:44AM
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I've been really pleased with Jacquard Textile Colors. They paint like water colors on canvas so you don't get a solid, even color though, but they are perfectly flexible after painting.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:31AM
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I'd cut the shapes out of fabric backed with fusible and iron it on myself. Very flexible and bolder. But, will look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:37AM
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I thought about fusible, but decided I wanted to try something that was a little different. If it doesn't work I can always cover it with bigger poppies or buy more canvas!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Look at this product - download the PDF.

Here is a link that might be useful: Painting on fabric

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:52PM
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Thanks for the comments and the links. I bought some paints today that should work and hope to give it a try this weekend on fabric scraps. It may be a while before I get the curtain panels hemmed and ready to go, but once it's done I'll post pictures. (Unless it looks so ridiculously bad that I decide to burn them and start over!)


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 10:34PM
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Have fun, Kate. I made a floor cloth about a month ago and worried about the same thing. I had heard they can be brittle. However, I couldn't be more pleased with the way mine turned out and it's very supple and pliant. I used house paint, rofl, and the design was done with artist's acrylics. I think your's should work fine.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 10:52PM
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The rug is great! Now I'm thinking of adding a rug to the room too. You people are wonderful/terrible enablers!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:17AM
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Calliope, that is beautiful! Love the design and the colors!


    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Kate, are you going to prime your canvas first? If the panels are not meant to be like curtains and more rigid, I'm wondering if you shouldn't get a big jar of gesso to prime them with. It will stop your paints from bleeding through so much and give you a smoother outline.

I think your design shall be very striking and almost oriental. Like it very much. I had a ball making the floor cloth and am impressed with how nice it lays. It doesn't 'kick up' like a typical throw rug and it's finished in a latex acrylic finish so when it starts to show wear, one just slaps another coat of finish on it. It should wear forever.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that's how I came on to quilting, in the first place. I need stuff not so mainstream anymore to furnish my 200 year old house and quilts and floorcloths are period authentic. Glad to enable you my dear. LOL. It's a payback for all the enabling I got on this forum.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 9:03AM
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calliope - Beautiful! And perfect for your home.
What did you use as the cloth? It looks like you put a binding on it as well - did you?

Do you vacuum it to get the pet hair off?

I love it! We used to make floorcloths in the late 60's -early 70's ---think hippie :~)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 9:29AM
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I had a piece of fine-weave canvas with edges finished on the sides......must've been off a 48" looming. I only hemmed on two sides. It's very durable and I just sweep it with a broom and it can be wiped off like any traditional oilcloth. I like it so much better than the throw rugs, I intend on making more to lay on the plank floor I'd cleaning up in my old office I am turning back into a bedroom. I have two 9x12 brand new canvas tarps and shall probably cut one in half to two 4.5 x 6 floor cloths for either side of the antique iron bed. It's a much rougher weave canvas than I used in this cloth. It's say this one is more a canvas duck one would find on a bolt. It came from my stash and was probably saved from some 1950s project.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 12:11PM
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I hadn't thought about priming the fabric first. I was looking forward to seeing some brush strokes - very much like Oriental calligraphy. But all plans changed last night!!! DH Jim came home from an Ikea trip with a panel system for the closet door. It's pretty cool so I'm OK with it but a little disappointed not to be doing the painted panels. I'm sure I can make them to hang over the bookshelves or maybe as a curtain over the window. This idea won't go away even if I'm not doing it for the closet!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 4:16PM
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