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Painting on Fabric With Inks - A Beginner's Guide

What is fabric ink?
Acrylic fabric inks consist of very fine colors suspended in a fluid that flows like children's watercolor paints and produces bold and vivid colors when painted on fabric. After they cure, inks are water resistant, light fast, and permanent.
There are many ways to paint inks on fabric. You can apply inks with: Paintbrush Air brush Dip pen Stamps Sponges Any absorbent applicator, like a Q-tip or rag. Ink can also be used to dip fabric in, like a dye, or as a substitute for tie dyes.
How is painting with fabric inks different from painting with fabric paints?
Inks have intense colors while still being very thin and fluid. While acrylic fabric paints can be thinned with water to the consistency of inks, the thinning waters down the colors and makes them very pale. Inks are recommended for projects where you want the fabric to be soft and flexible after painting, since they don't stiffen the fabric as much as fabric paints can. If you need to have more control over the design, use fabric paints, which hold a line better than inks. Acrylic inks are excellent for airbrushing because their thin consistency won't cause clogs in the air brush. Fabric paints are a better choice for screen printing or stamping, because they are thicker.
Can I paint any kind of fabric with acrylic fabric inks? Inks will work on just about any fabric: cottons, cotton/poly blends, flannel, batting and interfacings, rayon, linen, silk, canvas, organza, knits, suede, terry cloth, velvet, velveteen, leather, and most synthetics.
How do I prepare fabric for painting with ink? Your fabric should be pre-washed to remove any sizing, which can prevent the ink from penetrating the fabric fibers. It's also a good idea to cover your work surface with cardboard or another protective layer to keep the ink from getting spread around your work area. An apron and rubber gloves will help protect your hands and clothing from stains.
How well do ink-painted fabrics hold up under wear and washing? Acrylic inks create a permanent bond with the fabric fibers. Ink paintings should last for the life of the fabric. Inks need to dry for at least several days before you wash them. After that, inks painted on washable fabrics can be washed in warm water using the gentle cycle, preferably inside out, and ironed on a low synthetic setting.
Find many more helpful tips on fabric painting, quiltmaking, sewing, fiber arts, mixed-media and papercrafts at the C&T Publishing blog, along with weekly give-aways, free projects and plenty of inspiration from the C&T creative community. C&T authors include reknowned quilters and creative artists such as Alex Anderson, Barbara Brackman, Jane Davila, Harriet Hargrave, Nancy Johnson-Srebro, Katie Pasquini Masopust, Ruth B. McDowell, Lesley Riley, Elly Sienkiewicz, and Jean Wells.

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Comment by Nicolette MacCallum on December 17, 2009 at 11:06pm
know any good sources to buy the inks?
Comment by Czindy on December 17, 2009 at 9:33pm
What brand of INK would you recommend recomend for painting on fabric & is there an online supplier?
---> Thank you for posting this informative article!

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