Is it Possible to Varnish Fabric? How to Protect Fabric from Acrylic Paint Update 05/2022

Keeping works of art safe. Painting on cloth is referred to as “painting on fabric” by certain individuals. Once you’ve completed your work of art, you’ll want to save it for posterity and future archaeologists to study. The question is how to go about doing so.

Is it possible to varnish fabric? Fabric can be varnished, but only in the classic sense of the word. If you want your work of art to last a long time, choose a clear acrylic medium as your finish or varnish. This clear medium will attach to the painting over time, adding a protective layer.

Continue reading this post to discover more about varnishing fabrics. It takes care of the research so you can sit back, relax, and learn what you need to know. The information presented in this article will only take a few minutes of your time.

Do You Need to Seal Fabric Paint?

It’s a good idea to seal the fabric paint long before you wash the item if you want your piece of art to last a long time. Of course, you must wait for the paint to cure before sealing it.

Fabric painting is not the same as painting your home’s walls. When painting your home, all you have to do is apply the paint with a brush or roller and wait for it to dry. You could help the process by opening a window or two.

Fabric paint will have to withstand washer friction as well as being soaked in water for extended periods of time. That means you’ll need to take additional steps to ensure that your painting emerges from the wash looking exactly as it did before.

You’re not just maintaining your work when you seal the fabric you just painted; you’re also conserving the time and effort you put into making that masterpiece. As a result, sealing is critical.

Can You Seal Paint Fabric?


Yes, you can, and there are several ways to do it. Paint professionals can assist you choose the proper procedure because they are highly familiar with the paint and the fabrics. The first step is to make certain you’re using the correct fabric paint.

You’re wasting your time, effort, and money if you use the wrong kind of paint or merely acrylic without a medium. Painting cloth is neither the same as painting a house or room, nor is it the same as painting on a stretched canvas.

You must carefully follow all directions and ensure that the paint is completely dry before sealing it. Any errors in your work could render it useless or ruin it. Because you spent so much time refining your artwork on your selected cloth, make sure you keep it properly so you can proudly display it to others.

In most circumstances, instructions are not meant to be broken and should be obeyed to the letter.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint On Fabric

Some folks recommend finding a transparent fabric medium, mixing it up or using it straight from the bottle, and painting it over your painting. The medium should bond with your fabric and the other paint as it dries.

When it does, you should have an image that looks perfect and will survive through several washes. Make sure you follow the instructions, and if you have any questions, go to your local craft store or fabric outlet and seek guidance from the specialists.

Heat setting your acrylic paint is another option for sealing it. To do so, simply avoid using the steam setting on your iron. Also, turn the fabric inside out or over to the other side to avoid ironing the painted surface.

Alternatively, place a scrap piece of material over the painted side and iron on it. As you work, this shields your iron from any paint transfer. Then, depending on the sort of fabric you’ve painted, set your iron to either medium or hot.

After that, iron for 3 to 5 minutes, concentrating on little parts at a time. You should be able to move your iron more easily than if you tried to do long or large areas.

There should be no danger to your iron if you wait until the paint has dry. If you plan on doing this type of artwork more than once, it’s a good idea to keep an old iron around the house and not use your nice one.

What to Use to Seal Fabric Paint


Fabric sealer is available for purchase. It comes in a bottle, should be found on the same shelves as fabric paint and fabric medium, and should be reasonably priced. Once your artwork has dried, this may be the simplest way to seal it.

You can also use your iron and follow the steps outlined above. This requires some effort and time, but you can rest assured that your efforts will not be in vain. Just remember to match your heat setting to the fabric you’re working with.

The paint can then be heat set using your dryer. Set the timer for 45 to 50 minutes and use caution while working with sensitive fabrics. It’s possible that the dryer is too hot for them to handle. When using this option, you should use a medium to high heat.

Your oven is another possibility. Because your cloth will not tumble while it dries, this should be a bit safer than using your dryer. However, if you heat the oven above 250 degrees or leave the fabric in for too long, it may damage the fabric.

Paint Sealer for Clothes

When painting on fabrics, you can use a variety of paint sealers to protect your work. The same ones that work on sofas, other furniture, and ornamental artwork should also work on your various clothing fabrics.

Heat sealing is the most popular method, and the best heat sealer is your iron, which everyone recommends. The heat approach gives you the most control and allows you to catch errors before they become an issue.

Cloth sealers are available on Amazon, and you may have to go down a little to locate one that will work on both acrylic paint and fabric. The key to applying any of these sprays is to read the instructions and determine whether they will protect your paint for an extended period of time.

Your main concern will be what the washing and dryer will do to your artwork if you wash your clothes. To ensure that your painted clothing endure the rigors of machine washing and drying, you’ll need a decent sealer.

Can You Varnish Fabric?


It is not a good idea to utilize that choice if you are using the term varnish in the traditional sense. The varnish you use to preserve the look of wood and the stain you use to make it look distinctive both dry quite hard and are very inflexible.

This implies that if your garments move around too much, the varnish may shatter. When applied to solid materials such as wood, this type of varnish interacts with the air and generates an extremely strong connection.

When it comes to clothing, that strong link may seem like a positive thing, but if you ever want to remove it from the shirt you were wearing at the time, you may be disappointed.

This type of varnish may also become yellow over time. While your artwork is maintained, you may not be able to see it in its greatest light. This varnish will become brittle over time.

It is feasible to remove the varnish, but you will most likely lose your artwork in the process.

Can Varnish be Used On Fabric?

Only if it’s designed for use on garments. The varnish you require must both cure quickly and protect your painting while remaining pliable. The varnish can become brittle, fracture, and peel off your paint if it is not flexible.

This is why normal acrylic paint has a medium added to it. If the medium was not used, the acrylic paint would dry hard and crack and peel off when the shirt was folded, stretched, or twisted out of shape.

This is prevented by the additional medium. Check the varnish’s label to check if it’s safe to use on garments. If you’re hanging the fabric up on the wall like a painting, you can use the typical varnish.

However, you will only be able to appreciate that painting until the varnish begins to yellow and obscure your view of it. It is best to heat set your work of art so that you may gaze at it for an extended period of time without being distracted.

Best Varnish for Fabric


The best fabric varnish is one that is designed to be used on garments or clothing fabrics. This product may be difficult to locate. There may be a clear medium in the fabric paint area that will work as a varnish.

The difficult thing is that you may have to spend a few minutes looking through the many bottles to find the correct product. Craft varnish is not intended for use on fabrics, and none of the three top choices’ labels indicated that their varnish could be used on fabric.

You can try craft varnish because the labels state ‘and more,’ but you’re also taking a major risk. Joann’s had no fabric varnish or any form of spray or liquid that could be used as a varnish as we looked through their fabric paint sets.

If you want good results, you’ll have to do this option on a place by location basis. Alternatively, purchase an acrylic sealer from your local craft store.

How to Seal Fabric Paint On Shoes

Acrylic paint sealers are designed for fabrics and are the finest solution if you want to paint your shoes and keep the new look for a long time. These should be easy to locate in any large store’s craft section or in your fabric or craft store’s fabric paint section.

You’ll have to read the label to identify the one for the material used to construct your shoes. Sealers are offered for a variety of materials. Furthermore, because there are several sorts of finishes, you must select the one that best complements your footwear.

Alternatively, a decent waterproofing spray might be used. You don’t want to spray in huge amounts since you risk the paint running and ruining your work. Short spurts should enough, and be careful not to overspray.

Maybe two fast spurts on each location should enough, and then you may move on. Because waterproofing spray is not a varnish, you may not get long-lasting effects when using it, so be prepared to conduct touch-ups if necessary.

How to Seal Fabric Paint On Denim


Fortunately, you can paint on denim just like any other cloth. Because it’s a cotton-based fabric, you’ll want to use a cotton or denim-specific fabric paint. Then you must wait for the paint to dry.

If you’re using standard acrylic paint, make sure to mix in a medium to keep the paint from cracking or peeling. This is the simplest technique to paint clothing because normal acrylic paint comes in a wide range of colors.

You can use one of the three procedures listed above to heat set the cloth and the fabric paint. When painting on denim, there is nothing extra that needs to be done.

If you don’t want to heat set the paint, you can use acrylic sealer, which can be found in craft and fabric stores. A waterproof spray, which is a type of sealer that protects your paint from rain and snow, might work.

Simply be careful when sealing the denim things because it’s easy to make a mistake or overspray if you’re preoccupied.

Seal Fabric Paint On T-Shirts

Denim and other textiles are similar to t-shirts. These clothing pieces will respond to the same manner as other products. If you don’t want the t-shirts to move while being heated, use the oven approach.

However, keep in mind that t-shirts are composed of relatively thin material and do not hold up well in the oven. Setting the paint on a t-shirt or other clothing item in the oven just takes a few minutes.

Allow at least 24 hours for the textiles and paint to dry before heat setting t-shirts or jeans. Some people may give you a shorter drying time span, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution, and 24 hours should be sufficient.

You have the most control when using the iron approach. After the fabric and paint have dried, it must be applied. If you don’t wait long enough, the paint will splatter and damage your hard work. Paint may also get on your iron, ironing board, table, and other surfaces.

How to Seal Fabric Before Painting


A priming coat is the best way to accomplish this. A good primmer coat helps seal the fabric and conceal the prior design or color when painting furniture made of fabric.

Some individuals paint their furniture with a mixture of paint and water. When the material is thin, the paint to water ratio should be 60-40. When painting a heavier fabric, the water level should be greater.

The priming coat seals the material’s pores, making it easier to paint on. Preparing a painting canvas, for example, requires some priming to ensure that the surface is ready for your masterpiece.

After applying the primer coat, you may choose to sand your fabric. This will remove any lumps or bumps in the paint and smooth down the surface. Sand with fine-grit sandpaper and a water-filled spray bottle. The fabric will be misted by the spray bottle, making it easier to sand.

Just remember to use a fabric medium or a fabric primer before you begin painting.

How to Preserve the Paint On Clothes

Instead of conserving paint on clothing, most individuals prefer to erase it. Allowing painted clothes to hang dry after washing is the best method to maintain them. The sealant should protect the artwork from water damage, but the dryer may be too powerful for it.

A better choice is clear fabric paint, which should apply on your painted clothes with ease. This method does not require any special treatment, and it may even allow you to dry your painted clothes.

You might also use an acrylic sealer, waterproof spray, or another easy-to-apply sealer. Look through the alternatives at your local fabric or craft store and choose the best one for the fabric you’ll be painting on.

Some Tips for When You Paint Your Clothes

1. Before you start painting, make sure you cover the surface you’ll be painting with a non-porous cover. The paint has a considerable possibility of seeping through and staining the surface.
2. To protect your painting surface, use tin foil, thin metal sheets, plastic tarps, plastic sheeting, and other protective materials.
3. You might find it easier to start by painting a light border around your design. This makes the rest of the painting go more smoothly and quickly. When using a stencil, do the same thing.
4. You can create an infinite number of colors and tones using normal acrylic paint. You have a lifetime to experiment with colors. Just make sure to use the fabric medium to keep the color or shade in place.
5. Remember to clean your fabric before painting on it. Washing and drying the fabric first will eliminate any shrinking, allowing you to paint without danger of destroying the design later.

Final Thoughts

The terminology you choose when painting your materials is crucial. The sales clerk at the craft or fabric store might not know what you mean when you say “varnish.” They could point you in the direction of the varnish used on wood crafts.

Acrylic paint sealer, fabric paint sealer, or clear fabric paint are the ideal terminology to use. The correct language saves you time and gives the sales clerk a perplexed face.

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