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A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide to Fabric Painting Techniques

fabric painting techniques

You sure like to receive compliments that your dresses are unique and beautiful. Whether it is a t-shirt for official events or the linen for your dining table, you want to own fabrics with unique designs that keep tongues wagging. We all do, right?

Fabric Painting Techniques

The amazing thing, however, is that you can make these beautiful designs yourself. So, whether you’re looking to rock in your designs or to design other people’s fabrics for profit, we specially wrote this article to guide you through various techniques of fabric painting.

In this article, we do not just share with you important tips that will guide you on how to successfully paint fabrics. We also share with you different, easy-to-learn DIY ways for painting fabrics.

However, how well you use any of the techniques depends on how much you know and your general approach to painting clothes.

Important Tips for Painting Fabrics as a Beginner

Fabric Painting Techniques

Pick the Right Tools

One of the earliest worries beginners have is getting the right kind of tools for fabric design. Though there are several kinds of tools for painting on fabrics, choosing the right paint has been the major problem beginners experience.

Fabric Painting Techniques

There are various types of paints people use on clothes. However, the basic ones are fabric paint and acrylic paint. I personally recommend using fabric paint. This is because it is soft and flexible when dry, which is unlike acrylic paint. Therefore, it tolerates easy twisting of clothing materials and doesn’t crack.

Alternatively, you could add a fabric medium to acrylic paint to form a flexible mixture that doesn’t stiffen or crack when dry.

Start with Easy Fabrics

fabric painting techniques

As a beginner, it is necessary to start your fabric painting journey with natural and basic fabrics such as cotton and silk. Fabric materials like cotton are easy to paint on because of their smooth surface and texture. But this is not the case with materials like jeans or nylon.

Due to the nature of some painting techniques, synthetic materials are difficult to paint on and require advanced cloth painting skills. Painting difficulty on fabrics is also greater when the fabric has many colors. For this reason, it is advisable to start with one-color materials.

Keep the fabric fixed

As a beginner, the easiest way to get the best result is to keep the fabric you’re painting in a fixed position. This way, you make the surface of the cloth evenly smooth and easy to paint. Holding a cloth in position helps you successfully apply many painting techniques to the cloth.

Start with Basic Painting Designs

fabric painting techniques

My friend once saw a painted shirt on Instagram and wanted to replicate the design without any prior knowledge of how to paint clothes. Guess what happened? Right! He messed up his shirt.

Beginners always have this urge to replicate an appealing design. But starting with a complex fabric pattern is not the way to go as a beginner. The best approach is to start with simple designs. For beginners, this is the single most effective tip for painting clothes.

There are various simple yet beautiful fabric painting ideas and designs on the internet that you could start with. And you do not need anything else to create good designs other than being creative with simplicity.

Now that we have discussed the various tips that guide how to design on a piece of fabric, let’s dive straight into the easiest ways for beginners to paint a piece of fabric.

Easiest DIY Ways to Paint Fabrics

fabric painting techniques

Like every other DIY craft, fabric painting techniques require that you constantly practice them to master them. The basic difference between the various techniques is the tool used in producing the design. That is, by extension, the style of painting.

Six (6) of the easiest ways to paint a piece of fabric are as follows:

Dot Printing

fabric painting techniques

This is the easiest technique for painting fabrics. It involves dipping the end of a pen, pencil, painting brush, or any object with a dot-like ending into the paint and transferring the print onto the fabrics. I call it the DT (dip and transfer) painting process. A cluster of dot prints of different sizes can be used to create an amazing design on any fabric.


Stamping involves the DT painting process, where a vegetative or soft adsorbent material is carved to have the desired and intricate shape to be printed on the fabric.

fabric painting techniques

These materials are then used to stamp the shape on the fabrics repeatedly until the desired design is achieved. If you like carving things into shapes, then you might want to learn how to make your own stamps.


This is a way of painting that allows you to roll or brush paint over a stencil firmly fixed on the fabric, such that the cuts on the stencil are replicated on the fabric. A stencil is primarily made with cardboard paper. However, you can improvise with paper.

The beauty of stenciling depends on how sharp and good the carvings in the stencil are. Therefore, being good at stenciling means you would need to learn how to make your own stencils.


Salting is a way of painting a piece of fabric, where different sizes of salt are sprinkled on the surface painted with diluted fabric paint. The salt is then brushed away when the paint dries, leaving an appealing pattern or design on the fabric.


Spray painting involves spraying some paint, mixed with water, on the surface of fabrics. The mixture is shaken thoroughly to ensure even spray distribution on the fabrics. Subsequent layers of colors can be sprayed when the previous ones are dry.

Freehand Painting

Freehand painting involves using just the brush and some paint to create desired prints on a piece of fabric. Freehand styling requires that you have good brain-hand coordination to be able to replicate the idea in your mind.

fabric painting techniques

There are hundreds of DIY ways to design fabrics and new ones are created everyday. The more creative you are, the more you discover other applicable techniques for yourself.

However, the techniques discussed above are easy to learn and are a good starting point to grow your fabric painting prowess.

Having guided you through this learning process, we believe you can do more with a brush and some paint. I’m rooting for you! 

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