Using silk paints on an existing garment

I bought a nice pair of silk trousers in the Topshop sale. They were a good fit, cheap, made out of heavy silk, but the colour – a slightly pink cream – was not very nice. I thought I could try to paint them with silk paints.

Cream silk trouers
Cream silk trousers

If you see a pure silk item for £15 and you like it, it may be worth trying silk painting yourself.

Here’s how.

  1. Wash the garment just to take out any finish that may prevent the paints absorbing
  2. Choose a colour scheme (I chose purples and greens, inspired by ornamental cabbages)
  3. Choose a pattern – it might be flowers, random, a geometric pattern, ombre, spots or anything you like, but think about it before you start, maybe practising on a piece of silk
  4. Put plastic bags into the legs to stop the paint seeping through to the other side.
    Painting on silk trousers
    Painting silk trousers
  5. I decided on a vertical stripe so started with putting in some strong lines, mainly down the front and sides of the trousers. Do the fronts first and try to make both legs roughly the same (this is a design choice – you could do the legs completely different if you wanted to. I try to make a pattern look like I may have matched it. I do the second side from scratch and it is hard to get it the same).
  6. Gradually fill out the spaces, adding more colour until you are happy with the effect
  7. Allow the first side to dry
  8. Turn over and repeat on the back
  9. Dont forget to do the inside of the pockets, the seams, the fly, inside the pleats, etc.
    Silk trousers with fabric paint
    Painted silk trouers
  10. Press with a hot iron to fix the paint
Silk trousers painted by hand
Handpainted silk trousers

16 Responses

  1. Sheree

    I think you may have inspired me with a new hobby. Just as I am trying to de-clutter! When you iron the fabric after painting, do you find that if you are not careful, it can get a bit messy? In other words do you have to use a cloth on the ironing board and beneath the iron? I was also wondering if it is easier to paint the fabric before sewing or after. It occurred to me that it means no matching up if after, but I can imagine spending time making a lovely garment only to destroy it with rubbish painting.

    • fabrickated

      I think the latter sentiment is what encouraged me to buy white or lightly coloured silk items and then paint them. If I didn’t like them then I could chuck them without feeling too guilty. In terms of fixing the paint – so long as it is dry the ironing is not messy. The colour makes the silk very slightly stiffer than uncoloured but that is not necessarily a bad thing – giving a little extra body to the cloth. You do not need a pressing cloth. This is not a very messy hobby – I keep my paints and brushes in a small box, they wash out easily with water and if you splash it on a surface it comes off with water, or a little Cif if it has dried. But after fixing it is permanent and will not wash out or fade.

  2. Stephanie

    Beautiful! And of course I love the green shirt, too. 🙂 I need to get myself some silk paints. I don’t know why I have been so slow to adopt this fabulous idea.

  3. Sew2pro

    What a great find and improvement (but yes, I’d have overlooked them on the account of them being too plain). When I see you, I hope to remember to ask you about using metallic paint to enhance dull fabric colours 🙂

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