Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Fabric Painting with Crayons & Acrylic Paints

Even after the garage sale event, my nesting instinct was unyielding. So, I preoccupied myself with several sewing activites. For instance, I modified & sewed THREE double bed sized Bosui shiki pedo (防水敷パッド/waterproof mattress pad); sewed TWO fleece pants for my boy; and my favorite project…

Making A Sofa-Bed Cover

Sofa BedDuring the day, we fold up our double-sized sofa bed to free the floorspace. Its original fabric covering is in plain beige, so I figured that it will get dirtied in no time if I do not dress it up.

Choosing the Fabric Design

Initially, I planned to use Japanese quilting (kiruthingu /キルティング), which are fabrics ready-sewn with quilting lines and batting. Most craft stores has a great selection of undoubtedly cute designs for kids but they are insanely expensive, and wider width are hard to come by. Since I need a strong fabric with over a 140cm-width, I chose Ikea’s TIDNY fabric. Of which, I find the reasonably-priced fabric’s line-works whimsical and interesting. Best of all, I can explore fabric painting with it (i.e. using Pentel Fabricfun Crayons & Liquitex Acrylic Paints mixed with fabric medium).Fabric painting

Testing the Fabric Painting Mediums

Unfortunately, the TIDNY fabric is often out of stock. I had to wait two weeks for the fabric to be available. Not wanting to waste precious time (in case my honey bun pop out earlier than expected), I roughly drew similar designs onto white cotton fabric to test the crayons and paints separately:TIDNY fabric test

(1) Using Pentel Fabricfun Crayons

Fabric crayon

Pentel Fabricfun Crayons look like any regular crayons but these crayons allow you to color on fabric. The instructions for the crayons are on the back of the box.

Pentel Fabric Fun(1) After applying the colors, I heat set my test piece with a hot iron. [Placement: newspapers > white paper > test piece > white paper (again)] (2) As I ironed, the crayons melted and showed through the top white paper. (3) There was quite an amount of excess crayons absorbed. However, when I placed a new sheet of white paper on the test piece and ironed again, it was almost clean! (4) Here is the back view of the fabric. Okay, it is now machine washable.

(2) Using Liquitex Acrylic Paints (mixed with fabric medium)

Acrylic Paint Fabric Medium

Previously, I used cheaper acrylic paints (WITHOUT fabric medium) on my norens years ago. Unlike the sofa bed cover, the norens were artworks, not meant for laundering. However, out of curiosity, I hand-washed one of them to check whether washing would remove the colors. As a result, most of the colors were permanent except for black that had some extent of color run. Hence, I concluded that fabric medium is necessary to set the colors for good. I intend to get fabric medium from Liquitex but it was unavailable. So, I bought a cheaper and the only attainable alternative (by American Craft Life) instead.

Additional information can be found here: Can I paint on fabric using Liquitex Acrylics?

The Comparison: Crayons VS Acrylics

Fabric art comparisonCrayons’ Pros: (1) Colors are vibrant. (2) Colors remained pretty much the same before and after machine wash.
Crayons’ Cons: (1) It turned out that the line-works are smaller on the actual TIDNY fabric. So, trying to color inside the lines using thick chunky crayons require great effort even for an adult. (2) Heat-setting is a necessary step, which may be messy and become a challenge when working on a big area. (3) Easily run out of crayons. Even with the small test piece, my crayons had shorten remarkably. (4) Thick applications can stiffen fabric and make it look waxy.

Acrylics’ Pros: (1) Endless color combination. (2) Color inside the lines can be easily achieved with a small fine brush. (3) It requires only a small amount of paint, water and a few drops of fabric medium to achieve good consistency for fabric painting. (4) Heat-setting is not required. (5) It was recommended to wait at least 4 days before washing but I did mine the next day. Yet, the colors remained pretty much the same before and after machine wash.
Acrylics’ Cons: (1) It is necessary to pre-wash the new fabric to remove sizing, which interferes with adhesion. (2) Thick paint will stiffen fabric. (3) Wet colors will dry lighter.

Working on the Sofa Bed Cover

Fabric Art

After weighing the pros and cons, I proceeded to paint the fabric with Liquitex (+ fabric medium). Of which, I used mostly brown and blue shades on the TIDNY fabric.


After one-round of washing, I ironed the fabric to reduce the creases. Then, I added batting and a 100% cotton cloth beneath the IKEA fabric, and sewed straight quilting lines.

Finishing Touch: The Painted Bias Tape

Paint bias binding

In order to match the colors used on the TIDNY fabric, I decided to make my own bias tape. Once again, I mixed the acrylic paints (added fabric medium) and worked on
a 100% white cotton cloth to create the binding.

I let it dry for a day. Then, I hand washed it to check if there is any color run.
The colors were PERMANENT! (Check out the clear soapy water.)

Bias Tape Maker by Clover

I used Clover’s largest Bias Tape Maker (with a 50mm width),
to make the bindings for the sofa cover quilt.

Bias Binding

I encased the raw edges of the sofa bed cover with my self-made painted bindings.
Made two buckles with the remaining bias tapes and attached them to the cover.
Voilà! Now the project is done!

Related Links

Blackcabbit’s Handmade Adventures


4 comments on “Fabric Painting with Crayons & Acrylic Paints

  1. ryuji amano
    July 1, 2014

    Hi Dionnie
    can you please help me where can i buy fabric medium in japan been looking for it forever THANK YOU p.s i live tokyo love your work

    • blackcabbit
      July 1, 2014

      Hi Ryuji,

      I bought my fabric medium (BRAND: American Craft Life) from Yuzawaya (Tsudanuma Branch / 津田沼).

      If this store is too far for you, you can check with other Yuzawaya branches that carries FINE ART paint materials (画材). This link should give you the info:

      Hope this helps. ^_^Y

      • René
        April 2, 2016

        I was going to ask the same question, but thank you! Yuzawaya is a great shop, and Tsudanuma not too far from where I live (Urayasu). Very glad I came across your posts!

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2012 by in Craft / DIY Projects and tagged , .
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