Can Fabric Paint be Used on Canvas, Denim, & Leather?

Fabric paint is a great way to customize your fabric’s color and design, allowing endless possibilities.

Even though fabric paint is made to work with fabric, it does not act the same on all fabric types.

Below, I have broken down three different types of fabric and how they react to fabric paint.

How Do You Paint Canvas Fabric?

Canvas is a very popular fabric that has many different purposes.

Canvas can be used for clothing, shoes, utility items, and even as a surface to make art on. So what paint should you use when painting on canvas?

A canvas that is used for painting is very common. If you are working with this, you will likely use acrylic paint.

What about canvas fabric that is used on items that you wear?

What Type of Paint Should You Use on Canvas?

If you are painting on canvas that is being used to create a painting, acrylic paint is the best thing to use.

This can create a bold and long-lasting work of art that you will be able to enjoy.

However, even though acrylic paint is good for painting on canvas, you might want to consider fabric paint for canvas items that you intend to wear.

Acrylic paint can be stiff and unforgiving when folded or bent and will likely chip or wear off as well as being uncomfortable to wear.

It is also very difficult to fix mistakes if you are painting your clothing or shoes with acrylic paint. Fabric paint is also lighter and absorbs into the fabric, while acrylic paint is made to sit on the surface.

If you want to paint your canvas items with acrylic instead of fabric paint, you should only paint things that do not need to drape or be loose or folded.

Should I Prep the Canvas First?

Prepping your canvas is very important before you begin painting.

When you prep your canvas, you will have a much smoother surface to work with, and your paint will stick to your fabric better.

How you prime your canvas will depend on which type of paint you decided to use.

If you decided to use fabric paint, you would want to wash your item before you start. This will prevent shrinkage after you apply your paint, which could change the look of your design.

After that, make sure that you place something in between the fabric you are painting and the rest of the item because it will bleed through.

If you intend to paint a canvas using acrylic paint, you will also want to prepare your fabric, especially if it was not primed before you purchased it.

The best way to prime your canvas is with Gesso.

To prime your canvas, you will:

  1. Wet the Canvas.
  2. Make sure the Gesso is stirred well and apply it to the canvas by pouring it. Make sure not to put too much on.
  3. Add water to thin out the Gesso.
  4. Clean any spills immediately because it is not easy to clean up when dry.
  5. Brush Gesso over the entire canvas.
  6. Let the Gesso dry completely.
  7. Add more layers if necessary.

When you are done priming your canvas, and the Gesso is completely dry, you are ready to paint.

Should I Wet Canvas Before Applying Paint?

Your canvas should be completely dry before you start to paint.

Even though water is used to prepare your item, you want to make sure that the canvas is dry before you begin.

If you do not, it could cause your paint to not adhere properly or make your paint runny, which could ruin your design.

How Do You Paint DENIM Fabric?

Painting on denim is a great way to add designs to your favorite jeans, or to elevate a jean jacket.

Denim is an unusual fabric and can be very difficult to work with when you are sewing it together and can be difficult to work with, but painting denim can be very similar to painting other fabrics.

So how do you paint on denim?

What Type of Paint Should You Use on Denim?

Depending on what look you are going for, just like on canvas fabric, you can either use acrylic paint or fabric paint when painting on denim.

If you are looking for a bold design that sits on the surface of your denim, you might want to consider using acrylic paint.

There is also the option to use an acrylic paint that is mixed with textile medium. If you mix one part paint to two parts of the textile medium, this will help to prevent your paint from cracking or fading and will allow you to wash the denim safely.

If you want a design that is set more into the fabric, or you intend to paint an area that will see a lot of movement, you will want to use fabric paint.

Should I Prep the Denim First?

Before you paint on your denim, you will want to wash it and dry it first.

As stated before, this will help prevent shrinking after painting and will protect the integrity of your design.

Then you will want to tape off the area you intend to paint and draw on your design. Make sure you properly mix your paints before you start.

After this, you should be good to start painting. You may also want to seal your design with heat after you have allowed the paint to dry overnight.

This can be done with an iron that is set to use medium-high heat.

Should I Wet Denim Before Applying Paint?

Similar to canvas, even if you do need to wash your denim before you begin painting on it, you will want to make sure it is completely dry before you begin to apply paint.

How Do you Paint LEATHER?

Both leather and faux leather have a very different feeling and surface than canvas or denim.

This means that painting on leather will be different than painting on the other surfaces.

What Type of Paint Should You Use on Leather?

Even though you can use acrylic paint on leather, you would ideally want to get paints that are specifically made to work with leather.

Leather specific paints are not much more affordable than acrylic paints, and they will stay on the leather better over time.

They are also more likely to hold up under a steam iron.

Fabric paint is not ideal to use when painting on leather. Because of the way that leather is, it will not be able to be saturated by fabric paint, and the design will not show up.

Should I Prep the Leather First?

Before you begin trying to paint on your leather material, you might want to test your paint on a scrap of your leather.

If this is not possible because you are painting an already crafted item, make sure you test your paint somewhere that you intend to paint.

When testing your paint, you are mainly looking to see how well the paint will stick, how many coats you need, or even if the paint will stick at all.

Sometimes leather is treated with a silicone coating that will prevent your paint from sticking. If this is the case, you can always use a leather de-glazer to remove the coating before trying again.

After you decide that your paint will stick, what colors you want to use, and how many coats you need, you can begin the design and painting process.

It is a good idea to lightly draw your design before you begin painting. The best tool to use to do so is a pencil. Be sure not to make any design or lines too dark so that the paint is able to cover it up.

If you make a mistake, you can always try to remove it with an acetone-based nail polish remover carefully used on a cotton swab.

This will help you make small touch-ups, but you should still be careful not to make any big mistakes.

Should I Wet Leather Before Applying Paint?

Like all other fabric types, you will want it to be dry before you begin painting to ensure the paint goes on and sticks in the way that you intend it to.

Are There Types of Fabric You Cannot Paint?

Ideally, when painting fabric, you are using 100% cotton.

Cotton is a very versatile fabric that often has a tight weave that is good for soaking up fabric paint.

However, you do not have to restrict yourself to only painting cotton. When searching for fabric to paint, you can also use rayons, silks, and other fabric types.

For the best results, you want to find fabrics that have a tight weave. Loosely woven fabrics will not be able to hold the paint, and it can seep through the threads before it dries.

This means that the color won’t stick at all, or it won’t be very bright and saturated.

There is not a fabric that cannot be painted at all, and different fabrics will take different paint types or processes.

If you have a fabric that doesn’t hold onto fabric paint very well, then you might want to try acrylic paint or acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium so that the paint will be better suited to clothing.

If your fabric paint does not stick to your fabric at all, this is not your only option to get designs on your project.

You can always look into patches, embroidery, or other options to help you customize and design whatever you are working on.