How to Watercolor Paint on Fabric | Tutorial

I am so thrilled to share this beautiful tutorial by Cami from Tidbits with you today! She is sharing how to watercolor paint on fabric and it is so happy and pretty and cheerful for spring!

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Hi!  It’s Cami from TIDBITS and it is wonderful to be here again!

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If you have seen any of my work, you know I love mostly white spaces, with subtle hints of color (like found in our home here, here and here).  However, there is something about Spring time that always makes me crave color, color and more color!

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I have to feed this craving, or it gets out of control 😉  So the other day, I busted out my “mommy only” watercolor paints, and discovered a way to watercolor paint on fabric, for amazingly beautiful results!  (Especially considering I am no Artist).

How to Watercolor Paint on Fabric

I painted and painted on some white fabric samples, and then determined they would make the most beautiful pillow throws for our porch swing.

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The kiddos really love them as well.

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They are the most satisfying pop of color I’ve enjoyed in a long time!

Keep reading here, and I will teach you how to watercolor paint on fabric – and some tricks to the trade I learned along the way.  But, don’t feel limited to pillows for this project.  There are so many projects you could make that are no-sew.  Go buy some white cloth napkins and color them up!  Or a plain white T-shirt from the craft store.  Or Tea Towels, or curtains, or burp cloths, or . . . Oh the possibilities!

But if you love the pillows, get painting and then head over to my site here, and I’ll teach you how to sew a simple envelope closure pillow cover, for any size of pillow form.

Painted Watercolor Pillow

Alright, let’s get painting!

Materials:

  • Watercolor Paints
    • Don’t fret about whether or not they are fabric paints.  This was all experimental for me, but it totally worked!  I have these watercolor cakes from Michaels, found here.  I LOVE them!  But here is a set you can get on Amazon, that looks about the same, for a little cheaper with free shipping.  (Loew Cornell 1021095 Simply Art Watercolor Cakes – affiliate link).
      These paints are so much better than your kids crayola watercolor paints.  The pigment is so strong and a little goes a long way.
  • Fabric Medium
    • This stuff makes it so you can use any kind of paint for fabric, if you add this to it.  This Martha Stewart Brand works wonderfully.
  • 2 Small cups or containers for water.
  • Brushes
    • Make that 2 Brushes (so you don’t have to constantly wash)
  • Something to cover your surface
    • I use garbage bags
  • White Fabric
    • Any kind of white fabric should work, just be sure it is the appropriate type for your project (my pillow tutorial details the fabric I used, here).

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To get started, fill your 2 cups with water, half way.  One of the cups will be used to wet your paints.  In the other, you will need to add some of the fabric medium to the water.  I wasn’t too specific on proportions here, but for about 1/4 of a cup of water I used approximately an 1/8 cup of fabric medium.  Having 2 brushes comes in handy here.  You would not want to use the brush with the paint medium for dipping in your paints.

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With your brush nice and wet in the plain water, wet your watercolor paints.

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This leaves plenty of pigment on your brush, and you are ready to spread it on your fabric.

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The less watered down your paint is, the stronger the color.  The wetter the paint is, the lighter the color and the more it will spread.

Once you have painted your fabric as desired, use the water with the paint medium added to it and paint over the entire surface.

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When you do this, the colors really start to blend together beautifully.

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At this point, your fabric is very wet.  You need to heat set this paint to the fabric, so I threw my samples into the dryer on high heat until they were dry.  You could also let them air dry and then press it with a hot iron.  I actually did both.

It is best to read your instructions for the paint medium you are using, but I was able to wash and dry my fabric at this point with no color loss visible.  (Which made me super excited that it worked)!

You’ll want to test your painting methods out, before using it for an actual project, but here are the 3 different techniques I used when painting to get the specific looks I achieved for my pillows.

1) For the all blue pillow with somewhat of an ombre effect, I used highly saturated paint (with less water) at the top and kept getting it wetter and wetter as I went down.

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2) For this multi-colored pillow, I used circular strokes of varying colors.  It looked kind of funny to me until I soaked it with the wet fabric medium and dried it.  Then the colors all blended wonderfully.

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3) This last technique was a game changer.  I decided to soak my fabric with water first.  This made it so when I painted, the paint spread easily and blended all together.  This was really fun to try, and I really like the results.  I think this would also work great for an ombre look.

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I would love to hear if you give this a try!  It was really so much fun, and I plan to let my kids try this on their own projects.

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Be sure to go here, if you need help making your handcrafted fabric into a pillow.

I also have other projects that include fabric, paint, and creativity!

Did you know you can use shaving cream and fabric paint to create a marbled look on fabric?  Funnest project I’ve ever done!

Marbled Fabric

I made lots of samples, and I still love these marbled fabric napkins I made using this technique.  Click here, to see all the details.

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I also wanted some French inspired hot pads, but couldn’t find any.  So with a simple transfer technique and some grainsack stripes – I made my own, here.

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Finally, if you saw my last post for Ella Claire – how to make your own grainsack stripe stamp – you know you can easily paint this attractive stripe on any fabric you want.

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I guess you could say . . . I really like to paint fabric.

Thanks for reading!


 

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