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Paint Embroidery

Updated on October 28, 2013

Embroidery Painting -- Paint on Fabric with Liquid Paint

From time to time I come across vintage linens with paint embroidery on them instead of the more typical embroidery done with thread.

The look of these tea towels and dresser scarves is sweet and simple. I just love them! I found the tea towel shown here at a thrift store.

Growing up, my mom kept the liquid embroidery paint in tubes on hand. She would iron a transfer pattern onto a tea towel, and my sister and I would "embroider" it with the paint. It was so easy and fun!

Decorate linens like baby bibs, pillowcases, tote bags, and so much more with paint embroidery.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Paint Embroidery on a Pillowcase - Lovely Crocheted Trim on This Vintage Linen

"Grandma" painted embroidery pillowcase.
"Grandma" painted embroidery pillowcase.

This pillowcase is "embroidered" with bold colors and a big design. Of course, this isn't real embroidery, with needle and thread. It's paint embroidery.

The use of such bold strokes with fabric paint is somewhat unusual, from what I've seen. Paint embroidery is usually done in much simple designs with less "painted" or filled in surfaces. It makes a statement, for sure!

Dresser scarf with paint embroidery.
Dresser scarf with paint embroidery.

Paint Embroidery

These Paints Are Easy and Fun

These fun liquid embroidery paints that I'm highlighting here are made in the United States. They are lead free and nontoxic, so you know they're safe for you and your kids to use. The oil-based paint is permanent though, so you may want to wear disposable gloves while painting till you get the hang of it.

The embroidery paint comes in 1-ounce tubes of oil-based paint with a tip on the end. They are used similar to a ballpoint pen.

The paint can be applied to fabric, wood, metal, and more. With this versatility, they can be used in endless ways for crafts and decorating.

The paints come in the primary colors, jewel tones, country colors, and pastel shades.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Embroidery Paint in Primary Colors - Tubes of liquid paint to decorate linens

These fun liquid embroidery paints come in the following primary colors: black, red, brown, green, blue, white, yellow, and orange.

Liquid Embroidery Paint -- Pastel Colors

The liquid embroidery paints come in the following pastel colors: light green, light blue, lilac, pink, aqua, caucasian, banana cream, and lavender.

Tips for Embroidery Painting

It's Easy If You Know What You're Doing

Like any other craft, it's good to know a few tips before you start. With paint embroidery, it's pretty straightforward but these tips might help:

~ Stretch the fabric well to make it taunt.

~ Hold the paint tube straight up and down so the ballpoint works best.

~ Place cardboard or blotting paper directly under the layer of fabric you're painting to keep the paint from bleeding through to another layer of fabric or the surface you're working on. This is especially helpful when working with a shirt.

~ Wipe the point of the tube with a paper towel dipped in nail polish remover after use to clean the point.

~ Let the paint dry completely, about two or three days is best, before wearing or washing it.

Source: How to Use Embroidery Paints

Embroidery Paint in Jewel Tones

The jewel tone embroidery paints come in the following colors: purple, rose, teal, navy, cherry, chartreuse, dark yellow, and pine.

Table Runner Adorned with Fabric Paint

Paint embroidery on a long table runner.
Paint embroidery on a long table runner.

This vintage table runner was painted with fabric paint instead of ordinary embroidery. I love the subtle colors that have faded a bit, I'm sure, over time and from washings.

Embroidery Paint in Country Colors

Country colors of embroidery paint come in these shades: brick red, forest green, berry pink, prairie blue, rust, tan graphite, and avocado.

Iron On Transfers for Paint Embroidery - Choose your style: Vintage Animals, Days of the Week, Nature, and More

Embroidery Paint Accessories - Hoops, Replacement Tips, Blotting Paper

When doing embroidery painting with the tubes of liquid paint, a few handy accessories make all the difference in having fun and doing a great job.

Aunt Martha's 10-Inch Painting Hoop
Aunt Martha's 10-Inch Painting Hoop

This 10-inch hoop is a solid metal hoop to use to secure your fabric when doing paint embroidery or any other fabric painting. The metal surface is perfect for pressing against when applying the fabric paint.

Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Paint Tubes Replacement Tips
Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Paint Tubes Replacement Tips

Just what it says: replacement tips for the paint tubes.

Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Paint Storage Color Caddie, Empty
Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Paint Storage Color Caddie, Empty

Keep your embroidery paint supplies at hand and organized. This hard-shelled storage case holds 43 ballpoint tubes plus has room for accessories.


Fabric Markers Are Similar to Paint Embroidery - Great for Kids Craft Projects

Another option is to let kids decorate a tee shirt or tote bag with fabric markers. When you follow the instructions, these colors will last a good long time!

My grandkids love using fabric markers on fabric. They've decorated shirts and tote bags. When they are careful, take their time, and pay attention, the end result is really nice!

Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far.

Have you tried paint embroidery - or any kind of fabric painting?

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    • profile image

      Ansari 3 years ago

      It's the first time I commented here and I shluod say that you provide us genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Good job.p.s. You have an awesome template for your blog. Where did you find it?

    • profile image

      Naoto 3 years ago

      Hi, i've just started to learn how to paint on wood.I apliepd gesso on a plywood but when i start sketching on it, the pencil's lead scratched the gesso and took off some of it.It's the same when i tried to erase some sketches with the eraser, the pencil line will still be there.Instead, it's the gesso being taken off.I waited for the gesso to dry before i sketch on it.How do i do it correctly?

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I have learned something! I see these linens from time to time in garage sales but had no idea they were named paint embroidery

    • Elizabeth Braun profile image

      Elizabeth Braun 4 years ago from Sheffiled, UK

      I've done some painting of backgrounds onto fabric, ready for embroidered detail, but never *instead* of the stitchery. Interesting idea, thanks!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 4 years ago from USA

      I am jumping for joy! When I was a little girl, my Mother and the neighborhood ladies would get together once a week for a sewing bee. I remember my Mother working with embroidery paints and taking her towel work with her to the luncheon. Since that time, I've always wanted to find the embroidery paints, but did not really know where to look or what brands (if any) were still in existance from years gone by. This is a wonderful resource for embroidery paint - and I can't wait to get a set of my own.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How do you keep the tips from drying out. It so difficult to get going without having to do a lot of prep before beginning to paint?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago


    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @anonymous: Hi, Sheila. I just searched for this and couldn't find anything. Hmmm. I wonder if you asked at a craft store if they might be able to help you. Good luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How can you remove a drip of aunt martha's embroidery paint from fabric safely?

    • profile image

      marsha32 4 years ago

      My ex sister in law also used to design t-shirts using these paints.

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 4 years ago

      I didn't realize the still make and sold those ball point paint tubes! I remember my mom had some. I think I might prefer to use fabric paint with a paintbrush, but it is cool to know that stuff is still around. I am also thinking that "puff paint" stuff might be fun to do "paint embroidery" with...not sure it would really work that well since I haven't used the puff paint myself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You sure brought back some memories here, I don't know how long paint embroidery has been around but your pictures make me remember my Mom doing it years ago. Mostly she did needle embroidery but got behind in getting ready for the church bazaar and did the paint method....all her dish towels sold, just as if they had been worked on for hours with the old fashioned embroidery. I later tried my hand at it and did some too, its fun! :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      goole ideas

    • Noelle and Dan profile image

      Noelle and Dan 5 years ago

      I like your idea from your Mom to iron a transfer pattern onto a tea towel and then work with kids to liquid "embroider" the design.

    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 5 years ago

      ya am the fan of it and do it regularly. I like doing creative work on cloth, in fact i have started to promote my creativity through my business related to cushion covers, embroidery work on covers etc.............Loved your Lens.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      Never tried of heard of this form of "embroidery". It looks real nice and almost "real". should be fun to do.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I've never tried paint embroidery, but I do some needlework with thread. I love the look of those old linens too; they make me feel like I'm "back home". :)

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 5 years ago

      I've never heard of paint embroidery... my mom taught me how to embroider though, and I love having an embroidered tablecloth on the table

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      I've never heard of paint embroidery before - it looks fun!

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      Yes, I have. It is very fun! I especially like doing it with kids.