Which fabric paint to use?
Fabric paints are available in two basic sorts – those that are absorbed into the fabric and those that rest on the surface of the cloth. While both varieties are suitable for painting light-coloured backgrounds, if you intended to work on a dark ground you will need to select the sort that rests on the surface of the cloth. This is the most important in order to preserve a clear outline and to prevent the background colour from showing through. The main drawback of working with opaque fabric paints is that they do tend to stiffen the fabric, which affects the drape of the cloth. So, although they are acceptable for furnishing fabrics, blinds and cushion covers, they don’t work as well on garments.
The paint manufacturers should state on the packaging whetherthe product is suitable for synthetic or natural fibres or both. They should also explain whether their particular brand is suitable for decorating dark colours, or should be used only on pale backgrounds. It isn’t neccessary to buy a vast range of colours for fabric painting. A small variety of primary colours, plus black and white, will enable you to mix a large spectrum of colours. When mixing pastel shades, always add the colour to the white a drop at the time, not the other way around. If you do decide to mix different colours, note that may be difficult to obtain exactly the same shade a second time so make sure that you make up enough colour to complete the job.
When fabric paints were first developed for domestic use, thay came mixed with binders in jars and had to be applied using a paintbrush. However, in recent years a whole range of developments have taken place which have lead to a more sophisticated range of products. While you can still buy fabric paints in pots, today they are also available in tubes, applicators, crayons, pens and sprays. The range of paints is endless. You can buy glitter paints, heat-expanding paints, aqueous inks, fluorescent paints, metallic paints, marker pens and even transfer paints. Simplychoose a fabric and select a paint medium to suit the quality of fabric you are working with.
For example, glitter paints work well on tee-shirts and dark-coloured backgrounds, as do heat-expanding paints, also known as ‘puff paints’ or ‘slick sticks’. Note that these are not suitable for decorating clothing that needs frequent laundering because the paint is inclined to peel off after regular washing. Heat-expanding paint are simple to use. Simply draw your design on the surface of the cloth, then turn it over and iron the reverse for a couple of minutes, or until the paint expands. Beading paints are an interesting alternative to fabric paints and can be used to great effect on anything – from teatowels and garments to borders and bedlinen.
You can create a profusion of different designs using marker pens. Drawing is probably the easiest method of decorating cloth and can be used to produce a whole variety of different designs – from paisley patterns to checks, plaids and stripes. Marker pens are similar to felt-tipped pens and are applied in the same way. They are available in a wide assortment of colours and with different-sized nibs. For example, some have fine points for outlining, while others have wide nibs for drawing broad lines and filling.
Some brands form a permanent mark as soon as they come into contact with the fabric, while others can be removed if washed with soap and water. You can also produce interesting effects with a wax fabric crayon. By placing a textured item, such as coin, a leaf or a piece of treebark, underneath the cloth you can createan interesting frottage result by rubbing over the textured surface with a crayon.
Another exciting method of using colour is to create a monoprint. To do this, simply apply the fabric paint to a sheet of glass or Formica with a squeegee and scratch out a design on the glass with a coctail stick, needle or comb. Then press the fabric carefully onto the painted surface to transfer the design.
Fixing methods for fabric paints usually involve ironing the reverse of the fabric for about five minutes, using the hottest setting the fabric can withstand without burning. Note that when fixing crayons, you should place a piece of cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent the wax from sticking to the hot iron. If you are in doubt about which fixing method to use, refer to the paint manufacturer’s instructions.