Paints in My Stash

When I first began to quilt in 2004, painting on quilts was not as common as it is today.  Now when you go to a show many of the quilts, even traditional quilts, may have touches of paints or be whole cloth quilts with paints.  At that time, I somewhat arrogantly thought I would never use paint on any of my quilts, but over time I realized a little bit of paint can make a really big difference in the outcome of the pictorial quilts I like to make.  Over the past few years I have used paints on most of my quilts, even if it is only to add high or low lights.  I think it was Sharon Schamber’s Quilt Fairy video class that convinced me to try using some paints.

So once I started using them, I discovered that the many types of paints, dyes, and inks for fabric painting all have different results.  These differing results can at once be confusing and useful for the fabric artist.  I am constantly learning on this topic, and in no way consider myself a true expert, but thought I’d share what I have found useful for my own stash that I have collected over the years.  There are a lot of them out there and I certainly haven’t tried them all, but these are in my stash and give me a pretty complete coverage of things I want to do with my own fabric art.

  • Shiva Oil Paint Sticks:  These are particularly nice for adding shading, highlighting and lowlighting on cotton quilts and for making well-blended coloration.  Once heat set they are washable.  I don’t know how often you could wash it, but at least twice  (I used cold water and woolite), and that’s enough to get the quilt made and properly blocked.
    Rivewr and reeds highlighted by Shiva Oil Sticks.

    River flow highlighted by Shiva Oil Sticks.

  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens:  I use these frequently for many purposes.  I wrote to the company and they do not claim these are for fabrics, but I have found them successfully remaining on both prepared for dye cotton and silk after heat setting through one cold water wash with Woolite.  I have not tried more than that, but that is sufficient to remove markings and block a quilt.  I used them to color silk appliques for Canterbury Knight, cover small imperfections in thread work, and add depth to thread paintings.  They are great for when your machine embroidery leaves a small space between the outline and the fill work, skips a line of stitches, and if you have just the right color.  I note that Nancy Zieman uses Sharpies on her landscape quilts, and I think they would probably work fine for the same purposes.  I like the Artist Pens, though, because the tips are fine and their are a lot of colors, but I have a set of Sharpie colored markers.
    From Canterbury Knight...I inked both the boy and the birds onto silk/cotton white Radiance (prepared for dye).

    From Canterbury Knight…I inked both the boy and the birds you see here onto silk/cotton white Radiance (prepared for dye).

  • Setacolor and Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints:  I use these extensively when I quilt first and then paint.  I lump them together because I use them together interchangeably.  The Setacolor seem a little thinner than the Jacquard, which I like.  I have found they are permanent once dry and heat set at least through one washing for both silk and cotton.  The Setacolor Glitter finish I did not wash, but put on the quilts after they were blocked and heat set them.  They add a lot of beauty for just the right thing.
    The border swirls and leaves were all painted after quilting using Setacolor and Jacquard paints.

    The border swirls and leaves were all painted after quilting using Setacolor and Jacquard paints, then glittered after blocking.

  • Then there is my newest discovery, thanks to Kathy McNeil, Fabric paint crayons, which I have just begun playing with and have not tested them for washing, but Kathy says they are permanent once heat set, and she certainly should know.  I find these are really great for adding low and high lights in particular…for instance darkening one side of a tree trunk to give it a sense of depth and establish where the light is coming from, giving the sky and sea depth.  You can use these crayons like water colors too, and that’s really fun.  I have plans for these, but don’t have any quilt to show you just yet.  Anyway, here’s a video of her using them:  Painting on Fabrics
  • Inktense Pencils: I tried using these a couple of times.  For me, and perhaps I wasn’t using them right, they tended to change the hand of the fabric a little more than I liked, giving a slightly rough feel, but you can get a very crisp edge or blend them easily.  I used an aloevera gel for the medium with them.  I do know a lot of fabric artists use these with success.  I did find a large number of tutorial videos on you tube, and here is one link showing painting on silk and another fairly complete video on using them and Shiva oil sticks too.
  • Jacquard Procion MX Dyes:  I just got some of these and haven’t tried them yet.  I know that Hollis Chatelain uses these for most of her fabric painting.

Sew there you have it…what I have in my ever growing paint stash. That reminds me, I need to replace some of the Setacolors that I used up recently.  LOL

Sew happy everyone.  A spot of paint on your quilts may be just the thing to accomplish a look you have not been able to achieve otherwise.

A NOTE:  Rather than shutting down comments like I said I would, I found a new security software for this blog and hope it will do the job.  I still haven’t added back the subscribe to button, but might in the future.


14 thoughts on “Paints in My Stash

    • Merry Lee, It kind of depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the paint, look at my analysis of how they are used on each item. The Fabric Crayons may be a good place to start.

  1. Jo says:

    cool ideas here thank you, at present i am using the inktense pencils with fabric medium it does tend to leave the fabric a little hard to touch but once washed the fabric improves and after time it does become softer……… i would love to play all day and every day but work is in the way

  2. It is nice to see a comparison of the different types of paints/crayons, etc. Thank you for taking the time to write this post!
    I hope you will take my class one day. I would love to see how you like the dyes.

  3. Kathleen says:

    When I have used Sharpies on fabric, they tend to bleed outwards. Is it the type of fabric I use, maybe? But, I also have trouble with Pigma pens making a dark enough line.

    • I should have reviewed the Pigma pens too. They have a very tiny crisp line, which works for some things, but not for general painting. I don’t have any more because I did not find them as useful as others. Yes, Sharpies tend to bleed. If you touch the fabric fairly lightly and you are using a tight woven cotton, you can get a crisp edge, but mostly they are good for blenders like Nancy Zieman uses them to put low and highlights on tree trunks and add tiny limbs or get a yellow center to a flower that doesn’t have one. I much prefer Pitt’s Artist Pens for inking type work.

  4. Terry says:

    What an interesting post! I want to try to do a little painting on my fabric. I’ve used the oil sticks and that was fun. The fabric crayons sound like fun!–Terry

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