DIY fabric painting: wear your art on your sleeve

In this hands-on art project, Gabriel, an instructor at Pratt Fine Arts Center, a community arts center in Seattle that works with Amazon, takes you through the process of sketching a draft on paper, then practicing by using acrylics on scrap fabrics, to ultimately painting a final design on clothing. As you’ll see, the blazer and button-down shirt he created are nothing short of remarkable, and they’re sure to inspire any junior Amazonian who has a flair for fashion.

In this video tutorial, Gabriel focuses on flowers because he’s always been drawn to their beautiful colors and shapes, but he encourages artists to “find your own voice.” He first practices on paper, freehanding a sketch of a hibiscus. As he moves ahead to a second round of practice—this time on scrap fabric—he shares tips about various painting techniques, specifically how to outline in order to give definition and how to build depth of color. Finally, after honing his design, Gabriel moves on to the “final draft.” Using permanent fabric paints, he personalizes a button-down shirt with a green cactus that sprouts out of the shirt pocket.

Whether you choose to paint a cactus, a hibiscus flower, a person, or anything else, above all, Gabriel encourages budding artists to use colors that appeal and shapes and symbols that hold significance. Armed with this helpful step-by-step guide to painting fabrics, find a (parent-approved) shirt, pair of pants, or jacket, and start sketching a design that speaks to you. No matter what you create, you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing that nobody else will be wearing. How cool is that?!

What you’ll need:

  • Pencil (#4B, but any pencil can work)
  • Sketch paper or copy paper
  • Pens (a thin 0.35 micro pigment ink waterproof pen for drawing on paper; a soft brush 199 pen for fabric)
  • Scrap fabric (an old shirt or pillowcase will work well)
  • Permanent fabric paint
  • Paintbrushes (5/0 and 5)
  • Ironing board (to help with painting on a garment that’s otherwise hard to paint on a flat surface)

Virtual Kids Week activities are intended for children with involvement from a parent or guardian.