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Burn it Up (Not Literally Though)! How to Heat Set Fabric Paint

How to Heat Set Fabric Paint
Fabric painting is an interesting way to jazz up any plain garment. But to keep the fabric paint from running out after a wash, you need to heat set it. In this article, we will discuss all about heat setting and how to heat set fabric paint.
HobbyZeal Staff
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2018
woman making batik near Kandy
Fabric paints are a wonderful medium that lets DIY enthusiasts create a variety of home décor items and crafts. It can be used to paint garments, lampshades, upholstery and canvas; basically any textile. If you are creatively inclined and like to take up small projects around the house, then fabric paint is one of the best medium to do so. Fabric paints are available in a variety of textures and consistency. Some fabric paints with a translucent finish are used extensively in clothing textiles to give a beautiful watercolor painting like effect. Others are specifically manufactured for using on delicate silk and satin fabrics.

When you take up a project, it is important that you choose a fabric paint based on the finish that you are looking for and the fabric that you are going to use. Some fabric paints work well with cotton and cotton blends while others are more suitable for thinner synthetic fabrics. Basically any fabric can be painted with fabric paint although you do have to find the right fabric paint type for the fabric you are using.

After care of the painted fabric is very important, if you want it to last for years. One very important step in making sure that the paint does not run out or bleed during laundering, is to heat set the paint. Heat setting of fabric is the procedure where a heat source is applied over the fabric paint so that the resins in the paint bind to the fabric and the paint becomes colorfast. It is an important step in fabric painting that you just cannot afford to skip.

Heat Setting Fabric Paint

As mentioned earlier, for heat setting a fabric, you need a heat source. Although, there are many people who use a cloth dryer and oven as a source of heat for setting the paint to the fabric, generally, an iron is used to heat set fabric paint. Given below are step by step instructions on how to heat set fabric paint.
  • The first step in heat setting fabric paint is to allow the fabric paint design to dry completely. You need to follow the manufacturer's guidelines that is written on the product's label. A good rule of thumb to follow would be to wait until the paint feels dry to touch before you heat set it.
  • Once the paint is dry to touch, place the painted fabric over a flat surface and cover the painted area with a piece of scrap cloth.
  • Next set the iron to a suitable temperature, making sure that you turn off the automatic steam setting of the iron.
  • Now iron on the painted area, over the scarp cloth for two to three minutes.
  • Do not iron for more than four minutes and less than two minutes. If you do not iron the fabric for sufficient amount of time, the paint will not set properly on the fabric and it will run out.
  • Once you are done ironing, remove the scrap cloth, wait for the fabric to cool down a bit and check if the paint has adhered completely to the fabric.
  • Ideally there should not be any fabric paint bleeding out from the edges of the design. When you are done heat setting the fabric, wait for at least 4-5 days before washing the fabric.
This is how you heat set fabric paint. You can also use a cloth dryer to heat set fabric paint, and all you need to do is place the painted fabric in the dryer for 20-40 minutes. Want to know how to heat set fabric paint in an oven? Place the fabric over a newspaper and then heat it to 300º F in an oven for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that you keep an eye on the oven to prevent any burning of fabric. When you have taken so much of time and effort to make your fabric paint project, it is important that you heat set the fabric so that the paint looks brilliant and remains colorfast even after several washes.
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Hand Embroidered Flower
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Indian Fabric Style