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How to paint your Denim/Jeans to create long lasting professional designs!

May 1st, 2023

Hi fellow creative!

My name is Camille Marino, AKA CFACES and I am a denim designer and multidisciplinary artist based in Mexico City. I've been designing hand painted custom denim for the last six years, so I figured I'd share the simple steps to achieve long lasting designs.

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including denim jeans. With its ability to adhere well to fabric and dry quickly, acrylic paint is an excellent (and my only) choice for customizing denim jeans as opposed to Fabric Paint.

In this blog post, we'll walk you through the steps to paint with acrylic paint on denim jeans and give you some tips for achieving the best results.

Materials You'll Need:

- Denim Jeans

- Acrylic Paint

- Fabric Medium

- Paintbrushes

- Painter's Tape

- Palette or Paper Plate

- Water

- Rag or Paper Towels

Step 1: Prepare Your Jeans!

Before you begin painting, it's important to prepare your jeans. Start by washing and drying them to remove any dirt, oil, or sizing that may be on the fabric. Once they're dry, place them on a flat surface and insert a piece of cardboard or a plastic bag inside the pant legs to prevent the paint from bleeding through to the other side.

Step 2: Turn your Acrylic Paint into Fabric Paint-The most Important part.

golden heat set fabric medium for painting on denim
Golden Heat Set Fabric Medium

Acrylic paint is a thick, opaque paint that can be difficult to apply to fabric without thinning it down. To create a smoother consistency and ensure that the paint adheres well to the denim, mix it with fabric medium in a 1:1 ratio. Fabric medium is a liquid medium that helps acrylic paint become more flexible and less stiff when applied to fabric. Pour your paint and fabric medium mixture onto your palette or paper plate.

I have two separate paints, one that I use on Canvas and one that I use on my denim. For my denim paints I mix the medium directly in the bottle so I always have fabric paint ready to go.

Pro-tip: dont make the paint toooo liquidy- because then it will run. You want the paint to be creamy after the mixture but not watery.

Step 3: Apply Painter's Tape

This depends on how careful you are and your design. I only use painters tape if I am creating a sharp edge or want to have a super clean line along the hem of the pants. Be sure to press the tape down firmly to prevent paint from seeping underneath.

Step 4: Start Sketching & Outlining

**Here is my secret sauce for sketching on denim: use a Disappearing Ink Marking Pen made for sewing. This allows you to sketch without fear of making a mistake. This pen is a God-send!! If you don't like what you've sketched use a wet paper towel to erase.

If you seen my Instagram Reels I usually go ahead with a paint marker to sketch my signature CFACES style. Because with my style I just find faces and body parts as I go- but for designing Text on denim - this is always my go to.

Once you apply any material to the denim- the texture will change. You will be able to see a regular marker or pen unless you add many layers of paint on top.

** Pro Tip: If you want BRIGHT and powerful colors- add a layer of white down first.

I always do this on dark and light denim.

Dark Denim will absorb the mixed paint very quickly and the colors will appear dull.

Lighter Washed Denim will give you more vibrancy but not as much if you put a layer of white down first. (see photo below)

Step 6: Heat Set the Paint

To ensure that the paint adheres well to the fabric and doesn't wash out, it's important to heat set it.

Once the paint is completely dry use a piece of parchment paper on top of the design and use a hot iron on the cotton setting. Go over each area for 3 minutes Be sure to move the iron around to avoid burning the fabric.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Wearable Art!

Once you've heat set your paint, your jeans are ready to wear! Acrylic paint is a durable medium that can withstand regular washing and wear, so you can enjoy your customized jeans for years to come.

I always tell my clients to spot clean their Wearable Art- all in all, it is artwork and throwing it in the washer & dryer will lead to fading more quickly.

In conclusion, painting with acrylic paint on denim jeans is a fun and creative way to personalize your wardrobe. With the right materials and technique, you can achieve beautiful results that will last. Just be sure to follow the steps carefully and have fun experimenting with different colors and designs!

If you'd like to see more of my work you can visit my Instagram or browse the Denim Section on my website!

Besos Amores!


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