How to Paint on Fabric

How to Paint on Fabric - Create your own unique fabric pieces with just a few supplies. This is so easy and you can use the fabric to make dolls, tote bags, hoop art, and more! via littlegirldesigns.com

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Learn how to paint on fabric with this simple tutorial!

I’ve been wanting to make another doll for my daughter for a while now. I made an embroidered pillow doll for her first birthday, meant to make one for her second (and didn’t) and was determined to get one finished for her third birthday. That said, when it came down to actually making the doll, I had a few limitations.

One, though I like the idea of sewing, my skill set is rather low in that area and it takes me a while to sew anything. I’d like to blame this on my wimpy sewing machine that I bought for super cheap years ago, but I also know there is user error involved. Ahem. I say this because I really wanted to make a doll with arms and legs and long yarn hair and cute matching clothes. And yet, as mentioned above: skill set.

I forgot about the skill set issue one Sunday morning before Christmas and rather determinedly made a tiny muslin doll with arms, legs, and embroidery floss hair. I managed to do this and wow, she was a mess. One leg was much bigger than the other so even my mom laughed when she saw it. Yeah, it was sad. I would show you a picture but I “lost” her . . . i.e., packed her somewhere and have happily forgotten exactly where.

Anyway, in the midst of this frustration, I realized I could make another pillow doll and so set out to do this. And good grief, it was so much easier. No, it wasn’t the sweet doll of my dreams but it sure made my daughter happy. She loved that her dolly was a mini-me wearing her favorite Christmas pajamas. :)

The point of this post is how to paint fabric and I’m getting there, I promise. But maybe it’s also a reminder to all of us that it’s always a good idea to reference your current skill set before embarking on a project. Especially if it’s a last minute one. After debating about whether or not I should use fabric from my stash or buy some that would match, it occurred to me that I could just paint the fabric. I’ve done this before and it is so incredibly easy and satisfying. The picture below shows the doll on the left, the watercolor drawing that I used to print onto the fabric, and the back fabric that I painted and wrote on.

How to Paint on Fabric - Create your own unique fabric pieces with just a few supplies. This is so easy and you can use the fabric to make dolls, tote bags, hoop art, and more! via littlegirldesigns.com

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to paint on fabric, you might be surprised to learn how easy it is. You can use your painted fabric like I did (to make a doll), frame it as a hoop art project, make a tote bag out of it, or patches for clothing. You could also sew tiny pillows or cut out pieces and sew them onto blank card stock for cards. Really, your options are pretty endless.

How to Paint Fabric

You will need:

Muslin fabric
Acrylic paint in your choice of colors
Paintbrush
Water
Cardboard
Optional: waterproof pen

How to Paint on Fabric - Create your own unique fabric pieces with just a few supplies. This is so easy and you can use the fabric to make dolls, tote bags, hoop art, and more! via littlegirldesigns.com

To begin, place the fabric over the cardboard. The muslin I used was very lightweight so I knew the paint would seep through. Squeeze the acrylics onto a tray (or directly onto the fabric if you’re feeling brave.) Paint the fabric, adding water to help move the paint easily across the surface. Paint words, circles, blocks of color, or whatever you’d like. Let the paint completely dry.

For the project I did for my daughter, I used a waterproof pen to write out a portion of Psalm 139 over the fabric (after it was dry.) I wrote fast and somewhat lightly so the ink just barely adhered.

How to Paint on Fabric - Create your own unique fabric pieces with just a few supplies. This is so easy and you can use the fabric to make dolls, tote bags, hoop art, and more! via littlegirldesigns.com

Painting fabric will make it a bit more stiff, and in my case, it also made the muslin less transparent, which is just what I wanted. I really love seeing this sweet little doll around our house these days.

On a side note, I meant to make two more little dolls but alas, my color printer had other ideas. Once I get that fixed, I’ll definitely finish those dolls up. I’ll also make a note to not wait until Christmas Eve to work on Christmas presents. ;) You’d think I’d learn!

Have you ever painted fabric?

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2 thoughts on “How to Paint on Fabric

  1. I love the characters you draw! Any tips on how to draw them? I really want to learn how to draw little characters like that but I really struggle.

    1. Thank you so much, Katie! :) The boring answer is practice. :) I highly recommend learning from children’s book illustrations. I often take my daughter’s books out and will try to sketch exactly what the illustrator drew. It teaches you a lot and it’s free! If you don’t have a lot of children’s books, go to the library. The children’s section is the best! :) I wrote a post about books that we like to use to learn different techniques and just to play and have fun with drawing–click here for that one–Hope you have a great day! :)

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