How to Restore Dried Fabric Paint


How to Restore Dried Fabric Paint

Fabric Paint is a textile medium used to decorate fabric. It can be used on silk, cotton, wool, and other textiles with some limitations. Fabric paint is normally made by mixing dye with a water-soluble polymer (usually polyvinyl acetate but can be cellulose ethers or starch), which becomes the binder that holds the dye onto the material.

This accounts for its non-permanent nature compared to other paint types. However, it may last several years if properly applied and cured, and it will eventually run in high wear areas of using such as along seams where clothing rubs together or around edges. In this article, I will discuss how to restore dried fabric paint. So let us get started.

Kinds of Fabric Paints:

Find Fabric Paint in Craft Stores

There are different kinds of fabric paints depending on how it’s sold. The most common way to find fabric paint is in craft stores, sold as a liquid in small bottles. If you need to restore dried fabric paint that you bought in a store, this article will give you some helpful tips and tricks!

There are also fabric paints which come in the form of markers or pens. These work by forcing thickened ink through an opening at one end of the pen and onto the fabric. Marker/pen fabric paints can be found online or at art supply stores. When restoring marker/pens, we have to work much like our gelatinous counterparts (i.e., by kneading).

What is Dried Fabric Paint?   

Dried fabric paint is one of the most versatile art materials out there, and it’s just about ready to change your life. The basic idea behind dried fabric paint is that you mix up a batch of paint according to the recipe provided in this article, place it on your chosen surface (fabric, paper, or other porous material), let it dry for a bit if necessary, then iron it with a hot iron so that the layer melts slightly and becomes permanent.

Estimating How Badly Dried Your Fabric Paint Has Become:

If you want to restore your fabric paint, two different tests will allow you to know beforehand how badly the fabric paint has dried. 

1. Touch Test:  

Hardened or Gelled Fabric Paint

If your fabric paint feels very dry and brittle, this usually means it has already hardened or gelled (which is the first stage in drying).  Softening Fabric Paints That Are Very Dry But Not Hardened:

Here are a few things you can try if your paint is in this condition: Pour some water into a pot and gently heat on low heat for 10-15 minutes (you want the water about 150 degrees F, not boiling), then remove from heat and add 1/3 cup of non-detergent (or regular) fabric softener.  Immerse the fabric in this mixture, sit for about 10 minutes, and gently squeeze out any extra water from your fabric.   This should restore some of the flexibility to your paint so that you can work with it again.

2. Spreading Test:    

If your paint is slightly dried but not completely hardened, then it will be easier to spread onto the surface but still scorched if you try to use a brush or roller on it (exactly how stiff or brittle will depend upon what type of paint you used).

Softening Fabric Paints That Are Slightly Dried But Not Hardened:        

Here are a few tips if your paint has dried to this stage:        

1.   Applying Acrylic Paints (which are what you have if your fabric paint says it is water-based or cold-water): 

Try adding a small amount of medium (such as Floetrol ) and some liquid watercolor to the dried paint in a pot and mix on low heat for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool down before touching.    

The polymer in the medium will help soften the acrylic paint so that you can work with it again, much like the way drying oils can be softened with mineral spirits and then used for oil painting.

Step-wise Guide on How to Restore Dried Fabric Paint:

Step 1 :

Remove the fabric from your frame or hoop and allow it to dry completely in a warm, well-ventilated area. A fan may be used to expedite drying time. Use the back of a straight pin to poke through any dried areas that are still sticky to help air flow reach these areas better. The fabric needs to be thoroughly dry before proceeding with this tutorial.

Even if you don’t see any liquid spots, moisture can easily be contained within channels and crevices that will prevent fresh paint from adhering well. Avoid painting on damp fabric as the colors are less vibrant when wet and take longer to set up properly while still wet, giving them longer exposure to potential damage (such as folding or creasing). Once the fabric has fully dried, proceed to step #2.

Step 2 :

Using a clean rag, lightly dust your fabric painting surface with cornstarch. A fine layer of cornstarch is all you need to provide a crisp, clean surface for your paint without causing any adverse effect on the fabric itself (and prevent that pesky white powdery look and feel when using PVA glue).

If you are working with a painting that has been previously mounted to a mount board or other sturdy support, skip this step. You can also use even baby powder or talcum powder if you prefer. They will give similar results but have additional benefits such as water resistance which may be desirable if you plan to display or store your painting in a humid environment.

Step 3 :

Paint using appropriate fabric paint. Fabric paint dries quickly to the touch and lays down beautifully on top of dried PVA glue, but it is important to avoid writing or back-and-forth brushing, which can drag/pull water from the paper’s surface through the layers of paint if they are not dry yet. To prevent this, I find that laying down long stripes makes it easier for me to control my painting lines because I am less likely to make my brush strokes,

so uniform and potentially cause water movement from one consistency of paint into another. Remember: Drawing continuous straight lines or filling areas with long brush strokes will only allow part of your fabric to dry while another part remains wet and can ruin your finished painting if you don’t allow enough time for it to dry first.

Step 4 :

Completely Dry Paint

Let the paint set overnight or until completely dry before moving on to step #5. You may feel tempted to announce “I’m done!” after only a couple of hours, but don’t rush it! Use this extra time to give yourself a break and let the art be without having your hands all over it so that you are less likely to damage it inadvertently as it’s still drying from step #3 above.

It wouldn’t hurt to do some laundry at this time either since drying clothing is an excellent way of airing out any musty smells that may have gathered in between steps! Once you can poke at your painting surface and it doesn’t give, you can ensure that most of the color is set. Gently touch the paint with your finger or a clean rag, paying extra attention to any areas that feel especially dry or where you see brush marks.

If you notice a uniform streak when pressed lightly with a cloth, but then it disappears when pressure is released (meaning the wetness has returned), this area was still not fully dry in step #3 above and should probably be left longer for full curing.

Feel free to stop here if time constraints don’t allow for additional drying it. Still, I highly recommend allowing another hour or so for final curing before touching your finished painting again to be on the safe side.


I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to restore dried fabric paint. Thank you and have a nice day!

Read On Our Other Article – How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic Car Interior

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