Fabric Painting to Enhance Embellishments

Jakkie Lease © 2008

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Here are some examples of under painting to set the stage for embellishments.
Birdbath painted, then embellishments added.
Mailbox painted, then SRE and thread-painting added.
Birdhouse painted, then enhanced with SRE.
Gazebo painted on fabric and appliquéd to the block. Bench and pots (before SRE enhancement) painted directly on the fabric.
Fence was painted first.
Fence and trellis were painted, as was the stone path and greenery behind the roses.
Birdbath painted then embellished.


  • Fabric: 100% cotton, silk or linen.
  • Acrylic or fabric paint. I have used watercolor paint BUT only when I know my piece won’t be washed; for example, a wall hanging. You must add textile medium to acrylic paint. Textile medium, fabric paint and acrylic paint are available in most craft stores. When using textile medium, follow the directions on the label. I add textile medium to all paint, even fabric paint, when I know I’ll want to add embroidery.
  • Paint brushes: stiffer brushes are best for fabric painting; you can work the paint into the fabric.
  • Container of water.
  • Paint palette: I use plastic, foam plates or a plate covered with plastic wrap.
  • Plastic table cloth to protect your work surface optional.

Before you begin painting:

Hand wash the fabric to remove any sizing and press it smooth. For most painting, I suggest you make sure the fabric is completely dry. The fabric needs to be flat, so you can have a functional work surface. Personally, I like to paint with the fabric stretched in a hoop.

Painting a simple fence to embellish:

I’m not very good at drawing so I use whatever tool I can find that will help me draw the item I want to paint. For this fence I used a cuticle stick.

As you can see, they are not as even as I would like but that will be covered up with my stitching later.

Next, paint the fence. I used off-white because my fabric was stark white.

Use a darker color to shade one side and a lighter color to highlight the other. This will give the fence dimension. Because fabric does not dry as quickly as paper, it is easy to blend colors. Just work the paint into the fabric using a scrubbing motion.

Paint the ground with a little brown and then scrub in some greens. I pull the green up here and there to make grass.

Don’t forget the cross ties that hold the fence together, they should be your shade color as they are in the background.

After the paint dries, erase your pencil lines. Now, you are ready to embellish.


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