Basics of DIYing -Fabric Paints and how to use them

Fabric paints help add interest to old clothes that you’re bored with. These paints do not require any heat setting; the paint bonds to the fabric while you work.

Tulip paints are the most common fabric paints and come in different colors and finishes. These are permanent colors but can gently fade with constant washing. This post is a basic tutorial on how to use the different paints and an easy DIY method.

Basic Fabric Painting Procedure:

  • Wash and dry your fabric before use (usually cotton and polyester fabics work best for painting).
  • Place your fabric on a flat surface. Place a cardboard shirt cutout (available at craft stores) under the fabric to prevent the paint from bleeding through.
  • Tape your stencil over your fabric. Make sure the stencil does not move while painting. You can either paint directly on the stencil or trace the design on to the fabric before painting to preserve the stencil.
  • Let the paint dry for 48 hrs, without moving the shirt. You can wash the shirt again after the paint has completely dried.

Tulip Paint Types / Finishes 

Tulip paint markers are the easiest to use and quick (less messy than using the paints). You can either use them to draw your design before painting or to create the entire project. I made a few shirts using only the pens instead of the paints.

Tulip Fabric Spray Paint is easy to use and comes in a few basic colors. Perfect for covering bigger surfaces (the yellow and green paint seen below).FBB10AC7-DB6B-46DD-AC20-684FB35628E9

Tulip paints come as regular brush-on paints or dimensional ones. The dimensional paints come with an applicator and cap attached for easy use. They flow thick and smooth and you can create swirls, dots and other details to your project.

  1. Soft Matte Brush-On Paint: This is easy to apply on to a fixed stencil by using a brush. It dries to give a hard matte finish. This is usually used to create ‘Quote Shirts’ since alphabet stencils are easy to buy.                                                                           7A9FF11B-AEA1-47F9-8BF3-FFF113FB5F59 
  2. Metallic Dimensional Paint: This is a metallic finish paint and comes in an easy-to-apply bottle with applicator and gives a shiny finish.                 CBA5E084-31BD-41D6-9048-B10B54F43666
  3. Tulip Slick Dimensional Paint: These bright paints give a shiny, wet look when dry (a gloss effect).Untitled1
  4. Tulip Glitter Dimensional Paint: This paint contains reflective flakes to give a sparkly finish when dry. Perfect for adding some extra bling to your clothes.               Untitled2344
  5. Tulip Puffy Dimensional Paint: This is perhaps the most fun paint to use. You apply the paint as you would normally and let it dry. To activate the paint, set your iron to the hottest setting and place the heat above the paint (without touching it) and see the paint rise to give a 3D effect.                                                                                    Untitled12

These paints can also be used on other surfaces like wood or paper to give interestingly different effects. You can also mix them to create different looks – For example; mix the glitter with the glow-in-the-dark paint to create a sparkly glowy finish.


  • Always pre-wash your fabric before use.
  • Store your paint bottles with the cap on to prevent drying and upside down to stop bubbles from forming.
  • Bubbles can be removed with a pin.
  • Always turn your clothing inside out before washing so the paints do not fade.

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