Painting on Fabric with Acrylics

There is no big secret to know before you start painting on fabric. You splash the paint on just as you would when making a background in your Art Journal or on canvas. It is rather simple once you get started. Yet I have hesitated to do it because it was beyond my comfort zone. I have seen all kinds of cool projects done with painted fabric and I knew it would be something I would enjoy doing, but still I didn’t take the time to do it. Not until I went ahead and bought a video tutorial featuring Alisa Burke painting on fabric.

Acrylic painted squares by iHanna + DVD review

Expression in sessionI bought a video in the Expression in session series. It is called Creating Vivid Mixed-Media Fabric and it is all about painting on fabric. I am a huge fan of Alisa’s art, blog and use of colour. She always seams to come up with new projects and ideas not seen elsewhere. In the video Alisa talks, paints, and makes marks on raw canvas. She uses handmade stencils, handwriting, household tools, paint pens and colorful fabric spray. She creates messy colorful fabrics that to me in themselves breath of creative joy, but then of course you can use them in all kinds of mixed media projects!

I think it is simple and straight-forward, to paint on fabric and what the video is teaching. I didn’t learn anything revolutionary new but to me that was not the point. I needed a guide, someone to hold my hand and push me, and Alisa, through her video talk, did that for me. I think it was worth the money because of all the fun that push will lead to!

Alisa herself uses her painted fabrics to make extremely cool handbags and clutches, small and wildly colorful things. How to craft bags are not in the one hour video though she shows a few examples of her work in the end, to get you inspired. There is of course no end to what fun you could come up with to do with painted fabrics. I love how Alisa writes and doodles on top of her layers of paint, splatters, dips and uses stencils and stamps to make marks.

Green and Pink painted fabric (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

I mentioned wanting this video when I reviewed Colouriciou’s DVD Inspired Printing & Patchwork this spring. That was when I first noticed how inspired I get when I watch a lengthy tutorial video. I’ve watched this one several times already, and I want to jump up and paint every time! I loved that I could start painting without the need to go out and buy anything new. I didn’t even get “canvas fabric” I just used fabrics from the stash and got started.

Fabric pieces painted (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

I started small, on pre-cut white fabric squares. That was within my comfort zone. Next time I aim to go bigger. I added water and spread acrylic paints all the way to the edge, dripped on more paint and stamped a second layer with bubble wrap once the first layer was dry. I used green and pink on my squares and didn’t think much about the outcome. I was just enjoying the colours and the pattern. Painting on fabric is easy and a lot of fun!

Painted blue fabric (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

Then I went on to a few rescued pieces of furniture fabric. One has a yellow flower print and green leaves. The one I painted in blue hues originally was a boring gray dotted fabric (with big black doodle like flowers). The flowers are free and you could easily think I drew them now that I painted over them. The yellow roses I highlighted with fabric glitter paints from Tulip. Lots of fun!

Fabric pieces painted (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

You can get the video from the Interweave Store online (no longer available) as a quick download (for about 9 usd) or as a region free DVD (12 USD) shipped to your home. I opted for the download and then I have been painting both on fabric and papers with Alisa on the computer screen right next to me, talking, painting and demoing. It’s like having a teacher friend inspiring you and giving you new ideas while you work!

Here is a preview of this video:

Inspiration to check out

* Creating Vivid Mixed-Media Fabric – amazon link to the DVD Expression Session with Alisa Burke.
* Canvas Remix – get Alisa’s book to learn how to sew her bags and other Mixed-Media Accessories!
* Alisa Burke’s blog – a favorite of mine
* Fabric painting tutorial – by Alma Stoller (no longer available)

Have fun and let me know what you make!

12 Responses

  1. These all look fantastic! I don’t have any fabric scraps because I don’t really use fabric for anything, but it’d be fun to pick up some of the scraps they sell cheap at fabric stores to do this with!

  2. These are beautiful. I can’t wait to give this a try. I, too, hope you will show us what you use these for.

  3. Hi Hanna,
    First, thanks for your website! I am currently devouring your archives and that’s really interesting!

    I didn’t know it was possible to paint fabric simply with acrylics. I guess you need to do something after painting to fix the colors on fabric? with iron perhaps? Since I love creating with it in art journal (even if I don’t journal on the painted backgrounds…!!), I think it would be wonderful to express myself on fabric, just with acrylics!
    Thanks in advance for your further information!

    You could make a patchwork with your painted pieces of fabric… ;)
    All the best,

  4. Oh NO! I haven’t even received my order from Interweave of five DVD’s that were on sale… and now there’ s another one that I really really need!

    I love how in the sample segment when the instructor was commenting that you don’t have to buy a lot of materials Pokey from Inverweave interrupted her. Just a coincidence I’m sure, but it was amusing.


  5. Anne-Laure, so glad you found my blog and letting me know you reading from the archive and enjoying it. Thanks! Of course it depends on what you are going to do with the fabric if acrylic paints will work for you. It hardens the fabric a bit, so embroidery is difficult but a few washes I’m sure it will take (no you don’t need to affix it), acrylics is water proof. Try it out! And what my patches became will be a post soon, so you’ll see your patchwork idea was close but not quite! ;-)

    Diane, I hope you will recieive your DVD:s soon and have fun with them. You can always buy this one as a download, then you don’t need to wait for them to ship! ;-) Yeah, you don’t need to buy aaaanything, just this video and this and that… ;-)

  6. Hi Hanna,

    Thank you for visiting my website and your lovely comments! My goodness, your site is gorgeous and so full of inspiration! I see that you, like me, enjoy a variety of creative pursuits :) My efforts look pathetic next to yours, but one thing I am learning is that it is not always the final product that matters, rather it is the process itself.

    I am definitely going to try painting on fabrics!


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