5 Practical Tips for Painting on Fabric with Screen Print Inks

by Wendy Croxford

in Permaset Blog

12 Feb 2018  | 0 Comments

Our water based screen printing inks aren’t just limited to the one technique – you can easily use them to hand paint and block print onto T-shirts, canvases, bags, yardage and more. Here are some of our favourite practical tips for painting on fabric and textiles using Permaset Aqua Standard and Glow inks.

New _Love Bird-tee_hand-painted_with_Permaset_inks_onto

Get some inspiration from this Love-bird t-shirt hand printed using Permaset inks onto a cotton t-shirt by @Mariaartworld

Some beautiful hand-painted fashion by Tiff Manuell, a designer in Adelaide, using Permaset Aqua inks

Tip 1: Choose (and test) your fabric wisely.

There is an incredible array of fabrics and textiles to choose from when it comes to hand painting! You might prefer a natural oatmeal linen for rustic tea towels, or a delicate natural silk for light scarves. If you can, create some small swatches of your chosen fabric so you can test out ink consistencies and application before you make your final print. It’s also important to pre-wash some textiles such as cotton clothing, to pre-empt any shrinkage before printing or painting. Just don’t use fabric softener or other treatments as this can affect the final print absorption.

Tip 2: Experiment with various painting and printing techniques.

There are so many options for hand painting and hand printing onto textiles. You might try block printing using a simple repeated pattern or to use hand painting to add a customised message to a T-shirt. You could dip fabric into a prepared ink solution, or spray diluted ink in a loose pattern or even try tie-dying. You can also spray the fabric with water prior to painting with water based inks for a softened and spontaneous result. The sky is the limit when you have the right materials, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Handpainted tote bag by @ezeliadesigns

You can hand paint a design onto tote bags like this colourful design by Ezellia Designs. Note: make sure you heat cure the paint/ink before using or washing your bag.

Tip 3: Use the right fabric paint.

It’s important to choose an ink/paint for its easy application and longevity as well as for its sustainability credentials. Permaset Aqua Standard and Glow inks offer amazing colour choices for standard fabric prints on light coloured fabrics. If you’re printing onto black or dark fabrics, then Permaset’s vivid Supercover inks deliver an amazing opacity while maintaining an ideal stretchability and hand feel. You can have all of our non-toxic and solvent free inks delivered right to your door, or pick them up at a local stockist in your area.  Here is our link to the Permaset Online Shop if you wish to purchase online.

Tip 4: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Know what one of the best parts of textile painting can be? The tiny authentic smudges and edges that mean it is completely unique and made with heart. You’re not a robot, so don’t worry too much about small mistakes when you’re hand painting onto fabric. You can either try to clean up spots with a cotton swab, cover it later with an extra embellishment like a patch or button, or just embrace it as perfectly imperfect!

Tip 5: Be sure to heat set your inks/paints

Heat setting helps ink pigments to bond and adhere to your fabric fibres, so it’s an important step in creating a long-lasting finish for your hand painted textiles. You might be working with an iron, a drying tunnel or a tumble dryer. Take care to test your fabric swatches using this method before applying it to your final print (particularly for delicate fabrics). Once your textiles have been set, you’ll be ready to sew, sell, wear or even wash your completed painted textiles!

Permaprint does not contain ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCS or HCFCS. It is also formulated free of aromatic hydrocarbons. Permaprint premium is free of volatile organic solvent and does not contain PVC resin or Phthalate plasticiser