How to Make Fabric Paint at Home: Step-by-Step Guide

Imagine painting your design on fabric. It feels fantastic. However, not everyone is keen to invest in several fabric paint tubes when there is a rainbow of colors.

Well, why invest money in something you can easily make at your home? Yes, you can DIY your fabric paint. Moreover, why limit yourself to the colors at the store?

how to make fabric paint at home

You can easily customize your t-shirts, clothes, pillows, bags, sheets, and much more with fabric paint. Using simple and raw ingredients, you can go beyond your color imagination! In this guide, I will provide you with proper instructions on how to make fabric paint at home.

But first, let’s look at the ingredients you’ll need for the project.

Learn More About How to Make Fabric Paint at Home

Things you’ll need:

  • A fabric for testing (You’ll need a similar material on which you’ll use your paint)
  • Foam brush
  • Iron or ironing board
  • A container with a tight lid
  • Acrylic paint

Now let’s look into the steps required to make fantastic fabric paint!

Step 1: Mix Your Paint

In this guide, I discuss making fabric paint from acrylic paint. The main difference between acrylic and fabric paint is acrylic paint is thicker. Sometimes it causes flaking of the color and stiffness of the fabric. You can make it thin using isopropyl or water. However, it can leak through the fabric slowly instead of staying.

We have come across three different methods for mixing the paint. You can choose the way according to the ingredients you have available.

Method 1:

Things you’ll need are:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Acrylic medium

For this method, I thinned primary acrylic paint using an acrylic medium. I used a Liquitex gloss medium. The medium is usually used for light-colored fabrics. If you want to paint in darker colors, you should go for a matte or opaque gloss medium.

To ensure appropriate thickness, you have to mix an equal portion of acrylic medium and paint. This way, your acrylic paint will be thinner.

Method 2:

Things you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream (3 tbsp.)
  • White glue (1 tbsp.)
  • Acrylic paint (1 tbsp.)
  • Spoon or stick

Take three tablespoons of shaving cream in a container. And add one tablespoon of white glue to it. It would help if you were careful of the measurement because it matters. Mix it properly. After you have mixed the components, add acrylic paint to it. Do proper mixing. And ta-da! The mixing is complete!

Read Next: How to paint fabric furniture with chalk paint

Method 3:

Things you’ll need:

  • Tap water
  • Glycerin
  • White vinegar
  • Acrylic medium

At first, mix 20 ml. of water, 10 ml. of glycerin, and 10 ml. of white vinegar in a jar and shake it. Then you can add DIY medium to your acrylic paint to thin it down to fabric paint.    

Step 2: Test Your Paint

You must know that not all acrylic paints are the same. The thickness of the color depends on the fabric you are using. You must get the correct consistency to get the right look!

In this step, you’ll need a test fabric. You must test your paint before implementing it in real. Test the color using the test fabric. The must choose a material that is the same or similar to the one you are planning to operate on.

Now, if it soaks through the fabric, add more acrylic paint to it. And if it dries resulting in an uncomfortable stiffness, then add more acrylic medium.

Step 3: Heat-Set the Paint

Set your iron to medium temperature for more or less five minutes. After your paint has dried out completely, heat-set it by ironing, remember not to use the steam.

When it’s heat-set, wash the fabric with the same detergent you’ll use on the painted items. You can try out tumble-drying instead of hanging it to dry. It will make it more soft and comfortable.

If you still find your paint thick, add more medium and test it.

Step 4: Now, it’s time to use Your Fabric!

Yes, you have made your fabric paint! Now that you know how to do it, you make countless colors.

Now you can enjoy customizing your pillows, and clothes in a new way!

Things to Note:

Before Heat-setting your fabric, make sure that your material is dehydrated.

You can heat-set with a hairdryer or under the sun. However, the preferred method is ironing. Move the iron around, so the fabric is not burned. You can use baking paper to cover the area to prevent iron damage.

The critical thing to note is, fabric paints work on natural fabrics only. Such as linen or cotton. For materials like the fleece of lycra, you have to use pure acrylic.

When heat-set is done, you can wash it. Well, after washing, if the paint looks patchy, it means you didn’t appropriately heat-set.

Now that you know you can make fabric paint let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of fabric paint.

The advantages of fabric paint:

It’s easier to use than fabric dye or acrylic paint. You’ll not need to do any special treatment to prepare the fabric. Moreover, it has a more effortless application.

This paint is non-toxic. So, it’s safe to use around the house. Well, the color must not be used on any item to be ingested and also the skin.

It’s richer in pigment that provides you with a better-finished result.

The fabric paint allows you to use a wide variety of textures, finishes, and colors.

The disadvantages of fabric paint:

In most cases, it doesn’t bond to the fabric as a dye would. As a result, there remain some textural issues.

It might not combine with the fabric you expected. Well, it’s technically on the outside of the material only, not entirely through the fabrics.

The paint can fade off with time. It might release the pigment into the dryer or washer.


What is the difference between fabric paint and acrylic paint?

Acrylic paints work on both synthetic and natural fabric, whereas fabric paint works on material only. Since acrylic paint is compatible with all types of fabrics, it’s considered more versatile than fabric paint.

Why do I need to pre-wash the fabric?

You must pre-wash the fabric. It helps in clearing out the starches and chemicals that might remain due to manufacturing and shipping. Moreover, it minimizes fading. During the pre-wash, you must not use any fabric softener as it will inhibit the fabric’s quality.

Can I mix a lot of colors at once?

Yes, you can. It’s a good idea to mix a lot of colors at once. Since the unprimed fabric tends to soak up paint more than you might imagine, it’s a good idea to combine the colors reasonably liberally. This way, you’ll have plenty of color blends.

How long will the paint take to dry?

On average, it takes about 1 hour to dry. However, it depends on humidity, the fabric, and more. Please wait for 72 hours and then use or wash it.

Why is a medium used in fabric paint?

A medium helps in diluting the acrylic paint. It ensures no loss of pigmentation. Moreover, the feeling of color on a fabric piece is softened and lasts longer when you use it. Also, the paint becomes more comfortable to use.


Isn’t it fun making your paint? It will be more fun when you apply your paint to fabrics!

While making the paint, you must be careful of the quantity of the ingredients because a slight mistake in measurement can make the paint too dry or too thin. And you must try out your color on a test fabric. Please don’t use it on the primary material without testing.

Now that you know how to make fabric paint, you have lots of creative projects to do; painting on T-shirts, towels, and bags, creating wall art or fabric banners, and more! The list goes on.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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