Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Fabric? (Pro’s, Con’s and Warnings!)

Can acrylic paint be used on fabric? There are pro's, con's and warnings to consider first...

Acrylic paint is not designed to be used on fabric as standard which can cause issues with the fabric afterwards.

So, depending on what you plan to use the fabric for really depends on whether you can use the paint on it.

Here's a few things you must understand before painting on fabric...

DISCLOSURE: TheRuggedRooster.com is reader supported so if you buy any products featured on this site I may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.


Using Acrylic on Fabric 

Acrylic paint can indeed be used on fabric. However, it is worth bearing in mind that unlike fabric paint acrylic has not been created with this use in mind.

For this reason, when it dries it does not have the same flexibility as a fabric paint would have when it sets.

It dries quite stiff and rigid, which is not really desirable for a piece of fabric, especially if you are going to be wearing it. 

That being said, this does not put an end to your acrylic and fabric dreams, because there is actually a product that you can buy to help you out with this.

If you purchase a fabric medium this can be mixed in with your acrylic paint to make it into a sort of fabric paint.

What fabric medium does is alter the make-up of your acrylic paint, making it softer. This means that when the paint has dried, your fabric will still be soft.

It also ensures that you can safely ash the fabric garment without the worry of the paint coming off or getting ruined. 

One of the best fabric mediums for acrylic paint is Liquitex. 

It is available for purchase in a number of different sizes from a variety of retailers, including Amazon and comes with comprehensive instructions telling you how to use it.

Of course, you do not have to use a fabric medium. Acrylic will adhere just fine to any fabric you paint it on.

However, you must be prepared to have a rigid, and perhaps even unwearable, piece of fabric afterward.

You may even find that you will not be able to safely wash the garment if you have used plain acrylic without any sort of medium, so we really do recommend that you use some!  

Colourful acrylic paint dripping from 7 paint brushes

What fabric can it be used on?

Acrylic paint when mixed with fabric medium will adhere to most types of fabric with ease. That being said, it does tend to work better on fabric with tighter weaves, such as silk or cotton.

Liquitex lists many other fabrics on their website that also work well with acrylic paint that has been mixed with Liquitex fabric medium. 

These include flannel, terrycloth, corduroy, poly-cotton blend, and velvet.

It will be a little harder to paint it on fabric with an open weave, such as crocheted or loosely knitted garments, so do bear this in mind, similar to how painting on edges is with furniture.

It is also worth considering the fact that knitted and crocheted fabrics are often fluffy and tend to have lint on them.

This can be painting a little tougher and it may not look as smooth and neat. 

You may also want to bear your color choices in mind. For example, if you have a particularly dark fabric, then some darker colored acrylics may not show up as well as lighter ones.

This is not a huge dealbreaker, but it is something worth keeping in mind. 

Before you begin painting your desired piece of fabric, it would be wise to practice on a scrap of fabric first to see if you can achieve your desired results. Mix a little paint on the easel then apply to the fabric.

This will also allow you to get a feel for how the process works, as well as finding out the best techniques for applying the paint.

Of course, this is not essential but it may be a good idea if you have never done it before. 

This doesn't mean you should start painting all over fabric furniture for example though.

What is acrylic paint?

Acrylic paint is widely used because of its fast-drying abilities.

It is made from colored pigments that have been suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and also features metal soaps, stabilizers, plasticizers, defoamers, and silicon oils.

The result is a water-soluble paint that becomes water resistant upon drying.

It became commercially available in the 1950s and since then has been extremely popular with artists, hobbyists, and in the art classrooms of schools around the world. 

In terms of artistic use, they are most commonly used on canvas and paper, but also tend themselves well to other materials and uses.

For example, they are often used in model makings, such as the making of dolls, model cars, and model houses. 

It is easily cleaned off the skin with soap and water and can be removed from brushes in the same way. However, it cannot be rehydrated when on paper or canvas like a watercolor paint can.

With this in mind, it begs the question of acrylic’s suitability with fabric. Will it wash off easily as it does on skin, or will it bind to the fabric as it does on paper? 

The answer to this question is, yes, it can be used on fabric, but there are certain steps we recommend taking first. Head on to the next section where we discuss the use of acrylic on fabric in more detail. 

Conclusion

To conclude, we hope we have answered your questions and that you now know that acrylic can indeed be used on fabric.

It is recommended that you use it with a fabric medium such as Liquitex, in order for it to dry more flexibly and allow for better movement when wearing or using the finished garment.

That being said, acrylic paint alone will still adhere well, but maybe stiff or rigid, and therefore uncomfortable to use.

Whatever method you decide to use, ensure you follow the instructions on your paint carefully, and double-check that your particular fabric is compatible with the paint.