Fabric painting is a fun and versatile craft. A talented fabric painter can personalize tote bags, jeans, shirts, and other items with artwork limited only by the imagination. While many fabric paint projects suggest lettering or simple designs in puffy paint, you can also use fabric paint as you would any other paint. Using brushes and stencils, you can make your clothing or bags into detailed, hand-painted works of art.
The problem is that true painting, as opposed to squeezing out simple designs, requires many colors. Buying all those tubes of fabric paint will get expensive very quickly. While purchasing an artists palette of fabric paints would be ridiculous, you can easily turn cheaper paints into fabric paint with a simple additive.
The additive is called GAC 900, made by Golden Artist Colors. It can be mixed with any acrylic paint and will give it the ability to adhere to fabric. You can take acrylic paints you already own or buy a set of your favorite colors, then use GAC 900 to turn them into fabric paints.
GAC 900 can also be used as a top coat to help seal your artwork and protect it from being damaged. This is an especially good idea if you are painting the seat of a pair of jeans or a heavily used item like a tote bag or backpack. Your work will last much longer that way.
When working with this additive, you will have to heat set your final product after it has dried. You will place the painted fabric between two sheets of paper, iron it according to the instructions, and then wash and dry it. Some fumes will be given off as you iron, so be sure to do the ironing in a well ventilated area. Try not to do several heat settings at once.
Designs painted using a mixture of GAC 900 and acrylic paint will be soft and should resist fading and peeling reasonably well. However, even commercially printed items do get damaged in the wash over time, so it's best to treat your artwork with some special care. Be sure to use the gentle cycle, and if you have the time, you should hang the damp item up to dry instead of putting it through the dryer. Always wash your painted items inside out so the painted surface doesn't have too much friction with the other things in the wash.