Acrylic paint on fabric – some experiments

While I was writing my article for Quiltwow on using acrylic paint on fabric, I decided to do a few tests to see which sorts of acrylic paint worked best and also to see how much wash out there was if I used them on poly cotton.

I used Golden thick bodied acrylic, Golden fluid acrylics and some Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks that I had.  I painted each one on some thick cotton duck (canvas), some fairly coarse cotton fabric and some not all that thick polycotton.   I painted two of each and washed one of the pair to see how much washout there was.

Here are the results.  The ones on the left of each photo are the washed versions and the ones on the right, the unwashed.

Heavy acrylic paint on the canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Heavy acrylic paint on the cotton fabric:

acrylic paint on fabric

Heavy acrylic on polycotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Acrylic ink on poly cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

Fluid acrylic on canvas:

acrylic paint on fabric

Fluid acrylic on cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

And finally, fluid acrylic on poly cotton:

acrylic paint on fabric

This experiment wasn’t at all scientific but it was interesting to me, especially to find that acrylics seem to be fine to use on poly cotton (next time I’ll have a go with 100% polyester) and the fluid acrylics are best of all for painting on fabric, predictably because they contain less binder and more pigment.

The little sample book, by the way, is another that I made with the Bind it All.

5 Replies to “Acrylic paint on fabric – some experiments”

  1. At the risk of offering information you already have, many acrylic paint companies offer a fabric medium to use with their paint. I don’t know if it increases washfastness, but it does help with retaining the hand of the fabric, if the original softness and drape of the fabric are of importance to your project. Also, Golden is the only company I know of that also offers a silkscreen/printing medium as well.

    I was just thinking last night that I wanted bottles of both types of mediums, so it was great to sign on today and find your experiements… I need to pick up more PFD fabric. I know once I get started with my own experiments I will be able to go on and on for yards and yards!

    Thanks for posting these.

  2. I’ve used acrylics (tube and liquid) with and without the fabric medium for hanging banners and vestments. Even with the medium, the fabric maintains a certain crispness, for lack of a better term, which may or may not be a quality to be desired. It’s been my experience that adding a lot of medium creates lighter values as well. Dye definitely maintains the flexibility of the fabric better, but for work at home, acrylics are one of my favorites. Nice documentation of your experiments!

  3. I’ve found that “pure pigment” colors are great. They are almost like dye in that they are a liquid. The affect on the hand of the fabric is barely noticable. You can use them straight from the bottle for a very rich color or mix them with gel medium to get the consistency that you want. Of course they need to be heat set by ironing after they are dried. I have not used them on polycotton so I don’t know how colorfast they are for that type of fabric.

  4. I’ve always liked to paint since I was small, but I have painted much since I got out of high school. I really like your comparisons and I love how the acrylic ink on the unwashed cotton!! I just love all of the bright colors!!

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