No 15 – How to treat the fabric before and after the fabric painting

Dear visitors at Your Colourful Mind,

Today, we come back to:

The four important elements of the fabric painting process:

  • the kind of fabric we choose,
  • the complexity and feasibility of our design idea,
  • the paints and the tools we use,
  • the techniques we decide to apply.

Recently (Post  No 12) we discussed how to find and choose the appropriate fabric.

Now we can compile some recommendations on the treatment of the fabric, before and after the painting:

Before we start the fabric painting process: Preparation of the fabric

Wash the fabric items.
  • The fabric should always be washed before you start painting on it.
  • It has to be clean from dirt, dust and any coatings (sizing chemicals) added during textile manufacture.
  • Washing before painting not only makes sure that the paint is properly absorbed and adheres to the fabric surface, it also prevents unwanted shrinkage after the application of the paint.
  • Don’t add fabric softener when you wash your fabric or fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Also don’t use starch. (As above: this is to ensure proper absorption and adherence.)
Iron the fabric. 
  • Iron the fabric if it is wrinkled.
  • It is easier to paint on a flat surface. 🙂

Before we finish our fabric painting project: Final treatment of the fabric

Allow the fabric to dry completely.
  • Many paints need at least 24 hours to get really dry and most require additional heat setting.
  • A few paints require a curing period of 72 hours, or even 7 days, – you should follow the producer’s recommendations.
Arrange the heat setting.
  • The head setting is usually done by ironing the fabric. Some products also allow heat setting in the oven. Again, – follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The heat setting can be a boring activity but it is a very important one. 🙂
  • It ensures that your fabric designs don’t lose their colours when machine-washed and also don’t damage your other washing: If the heat setting is properly done, you can wash your painted fabrics together with other garments in the washing machine.
Heat setting with an iron:
  • The process is the same as ironing a garment, you only do it a bit longer than usually and you don’t use any steam (turn off any automatic steam settings or empty the water container).
  • Set the iron on hot heating (or medium, depending on the kind of fabric you painted on) and run it slowly across the painted areas for some minutes.
  • To protect your iron you should make sure that the paint has completely dried and you should place an old thin cloth over the painted fabric before you move the iron over it.
  • Some paint descriptions suggest to iron the back – the reverse side – of the painted fabric. In this case you should place some paper or old cloth on the iron board to keep it clean from paint.
Wash (and iron) the fabric again.
  • After the painting and the heat setting you wash the fabric items again, and, if necessary, iron them again. (The painted areas feel much softer and smoother after the washing.)
  • If the fabric can be machine-washed (as per its care instructions), it is recommended to turn it inside out before being placed into the washing machine.
I think, these are the most important guidelines regarding the treatment of the fabric.
Or do you have further tips that we should add to the list? Please, send your suggestions by comment or email.

Next week, I will finish the recommendations on the preparation of fabric painting projects by listing some more general guidelines and tips. (See Post No 17)

Take care,

signature - Margot

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5 thoughts on “No 15 – How to treat the fabric before and after the fabric painting”

  1. Anna Pitt says:

    Hi there, like your guidelines because easy to read and understand, thank you, anna

    1. Yes, I like the guidelines, too. Haven’t got much time for reading long instructions. This really help. Thank you.

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