How to Paint on Polyester Fabric

    by Alyssa Ideboen

    About the Author

    Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.


    Polyester is a diverse product with uses that include apparel, home furnishings, water bottles, carpet and more. Polyester fabric also dries quickly and is resistant to wrinkles and shrinking. Painting on polyester is possible with various types of acrylic paint. Craft acrylic paint, puff paint and fabric spray paint are a few types of paint appropriate for painting on polyester fabric.

    Things You'll Need

    • Tarp or newspaper
    • Polyester
    • Cardboard
    • Spray bottle (filled with water)
    • Acrylic fabric paint
    • Sponges and paint brushes
    • Stencils (optional)
    • Press cloth
    • Iron and ironing board

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    Wash and dry new polyester fabric prior to painting because manufacturers sometimes coat fabric with a finish that resists paint.

    Cover the work area with a tarp or newspaper. Spread polyester fabric over work surface. Place the cardboard between clothing layers to protect fabric from paint soaking through.

    Spray the polyester with water to make it damp but not saturated. Damp fabric allows the paint to absorb into the fabric quickly.

    Apply the acrylic fabric paint with sponges or paint brushes. If you wish to create a background color, applying paint with sponges to a large area will give the fabric a thin coat of paint. Allow the paint to dry completely before you apply additional paint.

    Paint designs with a stencil or freehand with paintbrushes. Apply the fabric paint in thin layers and allow each layer to dry completely before you add additional paint.

    Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours.

    Set the iron to medium heat without steam. Place a press cloth over the fabric paint and apply the iron to heat-set the paint. Keep the iron moving constantly to avoid scorching and iron for between three and five minutes.

    Turn the polyester inside-out prior to laundering. Wash the fabric in a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Line-dry the fabric instead of machine-drying.

    • Use toothbrushes, toothpicks or spoons to create different textures on your fabric.
    • Mix different pigments in a container to achieve darker or lighter tones and hues.
    • Puff acrylic paint in squirt bottles will become raised or "puff out" for a three-dimensional look.
    • Check paint instructions for manufacturer recommendations regarding heat setting. Most acrylic paints are ready for washing after the paint dries, but some textile paints require heat setting.
    • Never put fabric with wet paint in a washer, dryer or any appliance using electricity. Acrylic paint is flammable, and can start an electrical fire.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images