Acrylic Crafts



T-shirt Painting        


Did you know that regular acrylic paint can be used on fabric?  Special fabric-paints are very expensive and there is no need for them … not when it comes to painting T-shirts. Regular acrylic paint will not fade or wash off your t-shirt when laundered … even after a year of wear & tear your colors will be as intact and as vibrant as the day you painted it.

Things you need for this project …

  •  A T-shirt
  • Acrylic paint and brushes
  • Paper towels and waxed paper
  •  Thin, stiff cardboard to go inside the shirt
  • Coated paper plates for palettes
  • Textile medium

CautionNew t-shirts often have sizing substances that hinder paint absorption. It is best to wash the new t-shirt before use. For practice purposes, purchase inexpensive thrift-store t-shirts.


Cardboard and textile medium

Cardboard cut-out:  The cardboard should be cut and shaped to fit the inside of your t-shirt. Use waxed paper to cover the cardboard and tape it in place. Place the covered cardboard into the t-shirt and you are ready to paint. Make sure your brushes, water, textile medium, and paint are in easy reach within your work area.

Acrylic painting textile medium: Textile medium enhances the workability of acrylic paint on fabric.  It controls the bleeding of colors thinned with water and provides a smooth, consistent flow. Textile medium also reduces the stiffness of dried acrylic paint on the fabric. Mix 2-parts medium with 1-part acrylic paint … this will make the paint resistant to flaking.


Step 1 – Outlining your image

images (3)

If you do not have a specific image planned for your t-shirt you might dig through Google images for picture ideas. Once you choose an image, sketch your idea out on paper … a pencil or crayon work fine for sketching. When you have sketched in an idea, mix an outline color with the textile medium added and carefully outline a shape on the t-shirt. The outline does not have to be perfect.

If you are insecure about your skills start with simple, basic shapes … rectangles, squares, circles, or oblong shapes like a mushroom, for example.Keep the outlining as a rough sketch. The outlining will give you a feel of the fabric.

NoteDifferent t-shirts take the paint in slightly different ways because of the weave of the material.


Step 2 – Adding color to the project 


Begin to fill in more solid details, even if you are using only one color. If you choose to use multiple colors start with the main color then add highlights and shadows. Make sure the color fills the grooves of the weave … you can accomplish this by stretching the shirt a bit before you add cr. The more the color penetrates the better the durability.

Adding a bit of water makes it easier for the paint to press into the shirt fibers … be careful with the amount of water as too much will cause a bleeding effect. Touching your brush to a paper towel will blot any excess water and cut
down on the runny-ness.



Step 3 – Adding color wash


You may choose to use a background color with your image even though it is on a white shirt. If you choose green for a background color, for example … you do not want gobs of green paint on the t-shirt. Despite the textile medium, gobs of green paint will cause the shirt to feel rubbery and course. Dilute the green paint with water and textile medium to get a very nice watercolor effect as a background.

Be very careful to control the amount of bleeding. Experiment with touching-&-dipping the brush in order to wet an area, and make sure the other paint on the t-shirt is completely dry before experimenting.



Step 4 – Stencils


Designs vary and some are  complicated and may be a little difficult to sketch.  For example, drawing humans can be particularly  challenging. Stencils can be helpful with complicated designs … particularly partial stencils. Create your sketch on paper then use a thin blade to cut it out. Carefully hold the stencil in place on your t-shirt and use diluted paint to apply light brush strokes. Paint over the stencil from the inside out … this will create a shadowy outline on the shirt and allow you to sketch in the main lines and continue from there.



Step 5 – Heat-set your finished t-shirt 

001Heat setting is required to ensure that the design will withstand numerous washing and drying sessions. … heat setting acrylic paint is very simple … Make sure the acrylic paint design is thoroughly dry.

    1. Place a thin pressing cloth over the top of the acrylic paint design.
    2. On your iron, use the highest heat setting that is appropriate for your fabric (do not use steam).
    3. Press each section of the design firmly for about 30 seconds.
    4. Keep the iron moving over the pressing cloth to avoid scorching or burning.
    5. Let the design cool completely before wearing or washing.



Check out tie-dye for newbies