Washable Homemade Fabric Paint

4 Materials
1 Hour

In this tutorial, we experiment with making our own DIY fabric paint from acrylic paints by adding a couple of household ingredients, and come out with fabric paint that not only looks fabulous but is also washable - and we didn't even need to set it with heat!

Over the weekend, the kids and I visited a country fair. Poking around the craft tent, I was delighted to come across some very reasonably priced, hand carved, printing blocks. I knew exactly what I wanted us to use them for - to stamp on some little muslin bags we have for another project - but we needed the stamped bags to be washable.
A quick google suggested that you can turn acrylic paints into fabric paint, just by adding an acrylic paint medium - which would be perfect if we had some, but we don't, so I had to delve a little deeper. A couple of artist sites suggested using glycerine with acrylic paints, to make them act more like oil paints, or combined with water to make them more like a fabric paint.
We decided to try adding vinegar to the mix, to encourage the colour to 'fix' to the fabric, hoping it would work in the same way as it would with traditional dyeing, which we tried in our Turning Stains into Dyes tutorial. Now we had our 'paint medium' recipe. We mixed 10mls white vinegar, 10mls glycerine and 20mls water in a jar and gave it a shake. We then used a small amount of this to thin down the acrylic paints (which came from the Pound Shop). We mixed 3 slightly different shades of green, and then applied them to a sponge with a brush, to use as an ink pad.
We used one of the kid's old T-shirts to try out the stamping and it looked fab. I know that with traditional fabric paints they need to be fixed with heat, so once the paint was dry I decided to Iron the bottom half of the T-shirt (the bottom 3 leaves in the picture), keeping well away from the top - to see how much difference it would make. I then threw the T-shirt in the washing machine with a detergent capsule and put it through a 40C wash (with my fingers tightly crossed!).
We were delighted to see all the leaves intact when I removed the top from the washing machine - the non ironed stamped images are just as bright as the heat set ones, so the vinegar definitely did its job!
We stamped lots of bags ready to be filled - Our little bags are going to become Herbal Bath Tea bags for the children's teachers end of year gift. We popped a piece of cardboard in each bag before we stamped it to ensure the paint didn't seep through to the other side, and then simply let it dry before stamping the other side.
And here are our little Bath Tea Bags ready to be given away. You can find our homemade Herbal Bath Tea Bag tutorial with our homemade herb mixes here.

Suggested materials:

  • Something to stamp on to  (Home)
  • Acrylic Paint  (Home)
  • Glycerine  (Home)
See all materials

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • SueBee
    on Aug 31, 2017

    Where did you get the muslin bags? Love this idea for gifts, can be personalized for lots of different interests!! Thank you!!
  • Chris Keating-Ingelse
    on Sep 2, 2017

    I've been trying to find a good (and cheap!) fabric paint to paint the seat and back of a chair. Do you think that this would work?
    • Craft Invaders
      on Sep 2, 2017

      What a good question! To be honest I have no idea but it does soak into the fibres of the fabric nicely rather than just sitting on top of them, and certainly didn't feel crusty at all on the cotton fabrics, but I haven't tried painting large areas. If it was me I'd try painting something like a whole tea-towel or an upholstery fabric similar to the one on your chair as a test and see how it behaves with a bit of rough handling. Do let me know how it works out if you do go for it Chris - I'd love to know :)
  • Liz
    on Mar 2, 2018

    Will this work on the fabric on a chair or couch the same as the bought chalk paint

    • Craft Invaders
      on Mar 2, 2018

      I have only tried it on plain cotton Liz so I am afraid I cant comment on other fabrics. I can only suggest trying to find a scrap of upholstery fabric similar to the one you are thinking of and having a play - sorry I cant be more help :)

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