Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric – A Full Guide For Best Performance!

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The popularity of acrylic paint has skyrocketed in recent years with more and more people turning to acrylic paint as a way to pass the time and express themselves. Due to more and more people getting involved with acrylic paint, we have noticed more and more people realizing just how versatile acrylic paints can be. This has resulted in people trying their acrylic paints on other surfaces to experiment and see what kind of results they are able to get.

Due to custom clothing being very popular right now, we have seen people reaching out to ask if you can use acrylic paint on fabric and what they are able to do to get the best possible performance from their paints. With so many people reaching out about using their acrylic paints on fabric as well as the popularity of custom clothing increasing with each passing year, we have decided to publish this dedicated article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Our hope is that our article will be able to not only help our readers understand what types of acrylic paints they should be using on fiber for the best results but also how to actually apply them. Time and time again we see beginners understand the basic concept but make mistakes that are easy to avoid when it comes to actually applying the acrylic paint to their fabric that ends up detracting from their end result.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric!

Although you can use acrylic paint on fabric, there are some types of acrylic paints that end up performing poorly even if applied correctly to your fabric of choice. Due to this, we always recommend that our readers stick with actual acrylic fabric paints rather than regular acrylic paints for general arts and crafts.

Although the regular acrylic paints can work provided you apply them perfectly, their performance tends not to be anywhere near as effective as actual acrylic fabric paints, especially for longer term projects. Not only can normal acrylics end up cracking quickly but they usually suffer from color fade with large amounts of their color often washing out if you are using the acrylic paints on clothing.

On the flipside of this, acrylic fabric paints tend to old their color very well when out and about in direct sunlight wearing your custom clothing as well as being wash safe. Depending on the specific type of acrylic fabric paint that you end up getting, you can sometimes options that allow you to wash your fabric with your custom acrylic paint artwork on them with a stronger detergent if needed too but the regular acrylic fabric paints should be enough for most of our readers.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint Marker Pens On Fabric!

Similar to the actual acrylic paint that you apply with a brush, paint-based marker pens have seen a huge spike in their popularity recently but some definitely perform better than others when used on fabric. In our opinion, the Posca marker range is definitely the best option available by a long shot if you want to use an acrylic paint marker pen to apply your paints to your fabric.

We have a full dedicated article going over how to apply Posca pens to fabric to ensure that you get the best possible results that will probably be worth reading if you do want to take this route though. We do have an article going over the various Posca pen alternatives too and although some of the options can save you a little bit of money, the official Posca pen range does dominate when it comes to using them on fabric.

Depending on your experience level with painting, opting to go with a paint marker pen may actually be the better option for you instead of using actual acrylic paints and applying them with a brush. Many beginners tend to find that the pen offers more control than a brush an allows you to get better looking artwork with more detail due to being able to control the paint marker more accurately.

What Kind Of Acrylic Paint Do You Use On Fabric?

Although we touched on this earlier in the article, we feel that something like the Posca marker range will be the best option for the majority of our readers who are beginners to arts and crafts. The majority of people tend to find that the marker pen allows them to have better control over their artwork while marker sets such as the one from Posca have an excellent transference system from the nib to the fabric ensuring that the acrylic paint will go exactly where you want it.

If you are more experienced in the arts and crafts space and have build up a skill set with a brush then acrylic fabric paints do tend to outperform the marker pens as they offer a considerably higher level of detail. That said though, a large number of our readers who are looking to use their acrylic paints on fabric will probably just be doing it for some custom clothing so high levels of detailed artwork may not be required.

This is where your plans for your fabric will come into play as well as your budget. If you are looking for a one time thing to customise some fabric clothing for a party then the marker pens tend to workout to be much cheaper. If you will be customising a large amount of your clothing or fabric then the actual paint set will often be the better option for the long run.

How To Prepare Fabric For Acrylic Painting!

To prepare your fabric for acrylic painting you simply have to wash it and then leave it to dry fully. Although this may sound like a very simple concept, the number of people that we see instantly start painting their fabric only to find that there is some oil, grease or dirt on the fabric that causes problems with their paint is surprisingly high.

If you are looking to customise clothing that you have worn previously then washing the fabric is essential due to the natural oils that human skin releases causing issues with how the acrylic paint will set on the fabric. Even if the fabric is brand new and fresh out of the wrapper we would still recommend that you take the time to wash and dry it too but it is less likely to cause a problem if you don’t if the fabric is brand new.

We know that there are some people who swear by using specific detergents to wash your fabric prior to applying your acrylic paints to it but we feel that this is overkill. A large number of people will just use warm water to wash the oils out of the fabric prior to applying their paints and still get excellent performance once the fabric has been given time to dry out.

How To Apply Acrylic Paint To Fabric!

Provided you have cleaned your fabric and then left it to dry fully it is very simple to actually apply your acrylic paint to your fabric. If possible we do recommend that you try to put some cardboard inside of any fabric clothing to keep its form and allow you to get a more accurate idea of how the artwork will look once the clothing is worn but this is not essential. If you don’t have any card you can actually mount the fabric on an ironing board to get a similar effect.

Once the fabric is in place, it can be a good idea to try and sketch out the basic outline of the artwork that you want as it makes it much easier to accurately apply your acrylic paint to the fabric where it is needed once you start painting. This really doesn’t take as long as most people think as a very rough outline is usually enough to offer a great improvement to the end result.

Once this is done, you simply start to apply your paint either by using a brush if you chose to go with acrylic fabric paints or by drawing on the fabric if you chose to take the paint marker route. When you actually apply your acrylic paint to your fabric, slow and steady definitely does tend to win the race.

A large number of people new to using acrylic paints with fabric tend to try and drag their brush or marker over the fabric to get the artwork complete as quickly as possible. This tends to cause the fabric to wrinkle and potentially ruin the level of detail that you are able to achieve so try to slow the pace down and take your time if possible as the end result tends to be much better.

Once your artwork is complete, be sure to leave the acrylic paint to dry fully prior to actually doing anything with it. Depending on your actual goals for the fabric with your custom acrylic paint artwork on, you may also want to take advantage of a fabric sealant such as Mod Podge to protect your acrylic paint and ensure that it will last for as long as possible.

There are a wide range of suitable sealants that you are able to use with your fabric though once the acrylic paint has dried fully that will offer some excellent levels of protection. Different sealants do have different application processes though with some being brush based and some being spray based so always check the label of your sealant of choice to see how the manufacturer recommends that you apply their product on top of your acrylic paints.

How Do You Make Acrylic Paint Not Crack On Fabric?

The main reason that we see acrylic paint crack on fabric is due to people either using regular acrylic paint instead of acrylic fabric paints or due to using too much paint during the application process. Thankfully, these both tend to be very easy to solve provided you know about them prior to actually starting your artwork as they can easily be prevented.

We have already gone over the advantages of using an acrylic paint that has been designed for use with fabric rather than a general acrylic paint earlier in the article so we will skip that. If you are using an acrylic paint designed for use with fabric, you only need a thin layer of the paint on your fabric for it to sow its color. Beginners usually apply far too much and end up having issues with cracking once the paints have dried so keep your layers thin and the paint should not crack.

If you are using the Posca marker range for your arts and crafts then this tends not to be an issue as the nib will only release a set amount of acrylic paint when working with your fabric. If you did choose to use a sealant on your paints then applying a thick layer of your sealing agent can also cause cracking but this tends to be very rare.

How To Make Acrylic Paint Stay On Fabric?

The main way to ensure that your acrylic paint will actually stay on your fabric is to use a sealing agent such as Mod Podge. This will add a protective layer over the acrylic paint to help ensure that it stays on your fabric and prevent color fade or the fabric actually washing off.

If you used regular acrylic paints rather than acrylic fabric paints then there is a high chance that the paint will have issues anyway, especially after a few weeks as regular acrylic paints were not designed for use with fabric, especially clothing. As with many things in the arts and crafts space, planning ahead prior to painting on your fabric really can result in a drastic improvement to your end result.

Another common cause that is easy to avoid is that people will apply their acrylic paints to fabric clothing that has not been washed and left to dry. The oils our skin releases can cause problems with the acrylic paint actually bonding with the fabric correctly and if the fabric has been washed but is still wet a similar effect can occur causing problems with keeping the paint on the fabric.


That brings our article going over if you can use acrylic paint on fabric to an end. We hope that you have found it helpful and that we have been able to help our readers drastically improve the final result of their custom fabric. The most common mistakes that we see people make time and time again tend to be very easy to avoid but people continue to make them over and over again due to failing to prepare for their painting session.