Painting or printing fabricÂ with dyes will leave the fabric with a softer handle than with paints.
Silk and fabric paints contain pigments that settle on the surface of the fibre from which the fabric is woven, along with a fixative to attach the particles.
The basic paint is made from the same insoluble dye particles as used in artists acrylic paints suspended in water and with a higher concentration of fixative. The fixative is set by ironing the back of the fabric for 3-4 minutes.
Paints or printing inks are a quick and relatively mess free option for decorating textiles but dyes are the best option when the colour and handle of the final fabric is important.
When a fabric is coloured using dyes, the dye is absorbed into the fibres and becomes an integral part of the fabric. There is no residue (such as the acrylic binder in paints) and the fabric remains supple. When dyed properly, the colours are more vibrant and remain washfast with care.
We have two pages on our Blog which provide recipes for printing and painting with both Procion MX dyes and Acid dyes. The Procion dyes are best suited for cotton, linen and viscose, while the Acid dyes have been formulated to work best on silk, wool and other protein fibres such as cashmere.
Find out more about Printing with Procion MX dyes.
Find out more about Printing and Painting on Silk using Acid dyes.
Our range of Fibrecrafts Explorer Dye Kits provide the materials and information for learning about the different types of dyes.