Experimenting with tear-away stabiliser – Part 2

Experimenting with tear-away stabiliser – Part 2

In the first part of this post I wrote about finally making the decision to buy some tear away stabilizer, using the free motion function on my sewing machine to ‘draw’ some copyright free doodles I had sourced from Shutterstock onto white linen fabric I had in my stash.  I did some slow stitch embroidery on one of the face designs.  Here is a link to Part 1, in case you might have missed it. https://wp.me/p1WEqk-dUs

I wanted to do something a little different with the bird design.  My decision is the focus of today’s post.  Here is what the bird looked like once I transferred the design across onto the linen.


Just to recap, I had pre-washed the linen and attached some cotton batting to the back of the fabric prior to letting loose with the free motion embroidery.

It reminded me of a hummingbird and, as a result I wanted vibrant colour to inspire its completion.  I came across a set of iridescent acrylic paints in TK Maxx before the summer.  I thought I might try to use these shiny paints on the embroidered bird.

Before doing so, I needed to play with the paints so that they would work on fabric.  I did not have a Fabric Medium in my stash so I did a bit of research online and discovered that I could make one out of a few household ingredients.  So I thought it might be worth experimenting.  The recipe, which came from Paint topics, https://painttopics.com/can-you-use-acrylic-paint-on-fabric/ called for equal parts vinegar and glycerine mixed with two parts water.  I mixed the home made ‘medium’ and added it in equal parts to the paint.

The first thing I noticed was that the paint became very easy to apply.  I was worried that the iridescence would be lost in the mix but the vibrancy returned once the paint had dried.  Also, the black thread used when at the free motion embroidery stage acted as a barrier between the colours.  The paint itself was absorbed into the top layer of the fabric – there was no soakage into the batting.  I left the paint to dry out for about 5 minutes in between layers. The different colours sat nicely on top of each other.  I then left the picture overnight to dry completely and then ironed it to heat seal it.

I am really pleased with the result.  The cotton backing adds an extra dimension to the work as does the iridescence.  The texture of the paint is similar to what might be found on T shirt prints.   The only issue is, because this is an art piece (rather than a ‘functional’ one).  I have not tried washing it but I am happy that it is suitable for art work.

My only disappointment is that I could not get all the creases out of the pre-washed linen fabric.   Next time I might opt for a cotton fabric.

Have you ever used acrylic paint on textiles?  Have you used it with or without mixing with a textile medium?  Could you let me know how it worked for you.

15 thoughts on “Experimenting with tear-away stabiliser – Part 2

  1. The hummingbird is beautiful – the iridescent paint is perfect for the subject.

    Don’t worry about the creases – they don’t look wrong – celebrate them as texture 🙂

    Very interesting to read about mixing the paint with medium – thanks for the link!

    1. Thank you Lyn and Annie,
      The iridescent paint was a real find in TK Maxx. I rarely look in their ‘arty’ section in our local shop because it’s quite small and usually only has kids paints so I was a very happy bunny heading up to the cash desk.
      Thank you for mentioning texture – I am viewing the piece differently now. Before all I could see were creases which is a bit silly, given it is linen.
      I will have to experiment more with this home made medium. Mind you, I dropped the little bottle of the stuff I made and was clearing the spill off the floor. The glycerine feels really strange on skin but it seems to work on paint so I will live with it! lol

  2. That bird is beautiful.
    I use acrylic paint of all sorts on fabrics quite frequently when making theatrical costumes and props. Though until I read the article from your link (thanks for that) I was not aware that acrylic paint wasn’t permanent on fabrics (especially clothes!).
    So far I don’t think that has been a problem, but then costumes and props tend to be used for a short time before they are stored (if we have room) for some time before being used again. I have found that any acrylic paint – from house paints to “proper” artists’ paints – will work.
    The main problem is that the paint will stiffen the fabric. I have made a Cheshire cat costume and a bloodhound costume using much diluted acrylic paint on old sheets and, by using plenty of water, managed to “dye” the fabric rather than “paint” it so that the costume was wearable.
    I have stamped octopus suckers on tights with undiluted paint and that worked ok (though the actor had paint on her legs afterwards as she was wearing them at the time!) I tried mixing acrylic paint with PVA glue as a medium but omitted to dilute the solution and ended up stiffening elasticated gloves so much that the actor couldn’t get them on.
    So really it depends on what you want the finished result to be as to how you treat the paint. This year, I will definitely try the medium recipe you’ve given us, thanks again.
    (Thinks, I wonder how it will work on felt.)

    1. Your bird is so lovely Helene, great colours. Thanks for the fabric medium link too. It is funny how acrylic paint is not permanent until it is – children’s clothing comes to mind.

    2. Thanks Ann, I understand that the vinegar acts as a mordent in the whole process and the heat sealing finishes the job. Not too sure what the glycerine’s role is, perhaps it dilutes the paint.
      You have done so many ‘live’ experiments on your costumes it would be interesting to document your experiences for a wider audience. Do you ever have to clean the costumes? Do you every use vodka in this process – works a treat!
      You now have me wondering how it would work on felt …… There might be a spot for another post on this topic …

    3. No I haven’t, so far as I can recall, had to clean the costumes – I suspect that they have been steamed, by our wardrobe mistress, though. I certainly haven’t tried vodka (what a waste!) I think if I had to I’d probably use surgical spirits (rubbing alcohol). With the cat and dog costumes, I’d probably just have washed them as the paint is {supposed to be) permanent once it’s dried, if I’d been in charge.
      I have been trying to get down on paper (screen) about more theatrical costumes – I did do a post some time ago about my early costume makes and am determined to get on and do more soon (but don’t hold your breath).

    4. Thanks Marie. There are some stains even biological washing powder cannot cope with!

    5. Cheap vodka is the best thing for getting rid of nasty smells – just worth putting to the back of your mind Ann, in case some day it comes in useful. Would love to hear more about your costume makes at some stage.

  3. Great job on your little bird. Linen is definitely textured after being in a hoop. I use paint all the time on pieces. And most of the time I don’t use fabric medium. But I never wash any of my art so it isn’t a problem. If you use Golden high flow acrylics, they are more like dye. I have tried many kinds of paint, markers etc to get the look I want.

    1. Thanks Ruth.

      It’s really good to know about Golden High Flow Acrylics so thank you for the recommendation. I have just checked with our main art supplier in Dublin and they are available here which is good news.

  4. Hello to all,
    I really like what you have done on your linen. They are so beautiful. I believe that the glycerin acts as a binder in the fabric medium you made. I will try the recipe out as well. You have really got my grey matter into creative overdrive! Thanks for posting your creative experiments.

    1. Thank you so much Jacqueline. I am really delighted that you are find all of our posts inspirational and that the ‘little grey cells’ (to quote one famous fictional Belgian detective) and going into overdrive. We would love to see your work. Here is the link to where you can post your pieces. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/community-photo-submissions/

      As we say in Ireland (where I am based) ‘don’t be a stranger’!


  5. Helene your hummingbird is beautifully colourful. Your fortuitous find has worked it’s magic in your capable hands.

    An interesting piece of info & link re the ‘homemade’ fabric medium, definitely one for me to file!

    1. Thanks Antje. The ‘potion’ seems to keep but the smell is nothing to write home about lol

  6. We have found when painting sets that diluting acrylic wall paint with water works beautifully, but it doesn’t keep. If there’s a long period between shows, you can empty the workshop of people just by taking the lid off – the smell is appalling!

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