Fabric Applications


Applications. Use the information below to select the proper paint system for your desired application method.


The four lines of GOLDEN Acrylics of interest to fabric artists include: High Flow, Fluid Acrylics, Heavy Body, and Matte Colors. The main difference between each of these lines of acrylic colors is viscosity (thickness) or consistency. High Flow Acrylic Colors are the thinnest and are ready to spray. Fluid Colors are similar in consistency to a heavy cream. Heavy Body and Matte Acrylics are thick, with a buttery consistency. These various acrylic paint lines, each using the same lightfast pigments, allow the artist to combine the effects of spraying, staining, brushing and other application techniques.


Hand Brushing

GOLDEN Heavy Body (including Iridescent and Interference Colors), Matte, Fluorescent, and Fluid Acrylics are appropriate for hand brushing techniques and heat-setting is not required. To provide a softer hand1, which also prevents cracking in thicker passages, blend 1:1 with GAC 900 or GOLDEN Silk-screen Fabric Gel (for thicker paint applications). The GAC 900 and the Silk-screen Fabric Gel contain a special polymer additive that is designed to impart a softer hand, while offering excellent launderability 2 when properly heat-set (see directions below)


For best results, blend GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium. Start with a 1:1 mixing ratio, and increase amount of GOLDEN Airbrush Medium as desired to increase sprayability and/or transparency. When artwork is complete, spray a thin coat of GAC 900 for least color loss. Airbrush Medium can also be substituted with GAC 900 if a softer hand is desired (follow heat-set directions below). GAC 900 is thin enough to help with making the Fluid Acrylics sprayable much like the Airbrush Medium. For durability and washability in a spray application, these are the recommended systems, and will perform significantly better than GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics alone.

GOLDEN Fluids blended with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium do not require heat-setting for launderability, yet equal the performance of fabric paints that do. If an artist already possesses Fluid Acrylics for canvas painting, it is not necessary to purchase fabric paints in order to do fabric painting; they just need to get GAC 900. Allow for garments to cure for at least 4 days prior to washing (Note: heat-setting will speed the curing time required and should increase the launderability).

GOLDEN Heavy Body, Matte, Iridescent, Interference and Fluorescent Colors can also be sprayed onto fabric; however, their thicker viscosities warrant more dilution with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium which yields weak, transparent coverage.

Although not recommended for fabric use, GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics may be blended 1:1 or more with the GAC900 to aid in washfastness (properly heat-set according to directions listed below). This blend, although better than GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics alone, is still not equal to the launderability performance of the Fluid Acrylics/Airbrush Medium mixture.

Areas containing soft spray applications such as gradated areas, shading, and any skylines should be sprayed with a light coat of GAC 900 to increase launderability.


The viscosity of GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics is ideal for tie-dye and staining applications. Pre-wetting the fabric with water and using the GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics in place of fiber-reactive dyes creates brilliant patterns. Adding GOLDEN Acrylic Flow Release can also help the paint penetrate into the fabric (follow directions on label). To increase the launderability, blend the GOLDEN High Flow Acrylics 1:1 with GAC 900. After applying the paint to the fabric, wait for it to be completely dry before heat-setting or washing. This will maximize the amount of color that "sets" 3 into the fabric. If GAC900 is blended with the acrylic paints, follow the directions for heat-setting below. GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics may also be used for this technique, but will require the addition of water to thin to the proper viscosity, along with the GAC900 to increase the launderability.


GOLDEN Heavy Body, Matte, Fluorescent, or Fluid Colors blended 1:1 with GAC900 or Silk-Screen Fabric Gel produce silk-screen inks with excellent durability on fabric. The mixture used is dependent on two factors: the material to be printed and personal preference of paint consistency. (Refer to GOLDEN Information Sheet on the Silk-Screen Fabric Gel for the most complete information on this technique).

If screening onto heavy, cotton material, a thinner mixture of Fluid Colors and GAC900 may be desired, as its thin consistency helps to penetrate into material. If printing on a polyester or synthetic material, a pastier mixture of Heavy Body Acrylics and Silk-Screen Fabric Gel will work better due to a lower tendency of the ink to "bleed" into the material. Some experimentation is needed to find the system that is best suited for your work.

Mixtures (1:1) from Thickest Consistency to Thinnest
  • Heavy Body or Matte Acrylics/Silk-Screen Fabric Gel
  • Heavy Body or Matte Acrylics/GAC900
  • Fluid Acrylics/Silk-Screen Fabric Gel
  • Fluid Acrylics/GAC900‚Äč
  • High Flow Acrylics/GAC900

Both GAC900 and Silk-Screen Fabric Gel impart softness of hand, while offering excellent launderability. Proper heat-setting is required for both products (see below for heat-setting instructions).


Proper product selection, heat-setting, and care ensure long garment life.

Application of Large Areas or Long Lines

Filling in large areas with thick paint will produce a very stiff, uncomfortable garment. Blend color with GAC 900/Silk-Screen Fabric Gel to reduce the stiffness of the acrylic paint. If painting in a thick manner, short strokes of paint will hold better than long lines. The longer the line, the greater the chance of cracking when washed. A washing machine"s agitator may stretch the garment beyond its limit and thus cause cracking.

Material Considerations

Test materials thoroughly before large production runs or when using a unique fabric.
The looser the weave of the fabric (cotton/poly blends), the better the penetration and hold the paint will have on the material.
Thicker fabrics (sweatshirt-type weaves) should be slightly stretched with a backer-board to allow for better penetration of the paint into the material.
To increase the adhesion onto any fabric a very light misting of water (e.g.-with a plant-mister) will increase the penetration into the material. Care should be taken with this technique, as over applying the water could result in bleeding of the color.


The heat-setting process will release low levels of formaldehyde; therefore adequate ventilation is recommended when heat setting.

Fabrics treated with GAC 900/Silk-Screen Fabric Gel-modified paints must be heat set if maximum launderability is necessary. Products conform to ASTM D4236. All GOLDEN products should be used in accordance with safe handling practices. Read product labels prior to use. The polymer must first air dry to the touch to form the initial bond with the fabric, followed by one of the heat-set methods listed below:

  • Heat Press according to press manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Iron for 3-5 minutes with a medium-hot iron on the reverse side (side opposite of the application). On delicate fabrics where lower heat levels must be used, a longer ironing time will be necessary.
  • Professional Oven Cure for 2-3 minutes at 300F; 4 minutes at 250F.
  • Clothes dryer: Commercial: medium-high temperature for 20-40 minutes. Household: high temperature for 40-50 minutes.
Washing and Drying
  • Let paint dry thoroughly (at least 4 days) before washing.
  • Hand-washing will dramatically increase garment life.
  • Always turn garment inside-out for laundering.
  • Avoid hot water washing. This will tend to soften and loosen acrylic paint from the garment.
  • Cold water works best for automatic washing of the painted garment.
  • Heat-set when appropriate.
  • Set washer to gentle cycle.
  • Drip-drying instead of using the clothes dryer will increase the life of the garment.


GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics are professional artist paints.

If properly prepared and cared for, GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics will produce a fabric artwork with good durability. GOLDEN Artist Colors Acrylics are produced with 100% Acrylic Polymer Emulsion. This produces a film with excellent flexibility, and chemical, water, and ultraviolet resistance. The milky emulsion dries transparent, allowing pigments to show their full color. All pigments in GOLDEN Acrylics are chosen for the greatest clarity and permanency within each chemical class. GOLDEN Acrylics dry quickly and may be painted over immediately yet complete drying/curing will take longer. Avoid freezing. Minimum film formation temperature is 48oF/9oC.

To thin, use water or GOLDEN Mediums. For slower drying, use GOLDEN Retarder. Do not mix with oils. Paint on any non-oily surface. Non-absorbent surfaces should be abraded for increased adhesion. Clean tools with soap and water. Keep tools wet during use.


1Soft Hand - decrease in the hardness of the paint when dry, leaving a comfortable and breathable feel to the fabric.
2 Launderability - the ability for the fabric to be washed.
3Sets - after washing, it is the remaining color left in the fabric.
4Bleed - a halo effect around the brushstroke.

Quick Reference Chart for Choosing GOLDEN Acrylic Paints for Fabric Use.
GOLDEN Acrylics to use for Fabric Hand Brushing Airbrushing or Spraying Tye-Dyeing of Staining Silk-Screening
High Flow Acrylics     */+  
Fluid Acrylics * + * *
Iridescent Acrylics * * * *
Interference Acrylics * * * *
Heavy Body Acrylics + *   +
Fluorescent Acrylics * * * *
Matte Acrylics * *   *
* Can be used for this technique
+ Best Recommendation for particular technique
Quick Reference Chart for Choosing Which GOLDEN Gel/Medium to Blend with GOLDEN Acrylics for Fabric Use.
GOLDEN Mediums to use for Fabric Hand Brushing Airbrushing or Spraying Tye-Dyeing of Staining Silk-Screening
Airbrush Medium   */+    
GAC 900 + * + *
Silk-Screen Fabric Gel *     +
Acrylic Flow Release     */+  
* Can be used for this technique
+ Best Recommendation for particular technique


The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.