Dyeing fabrics with acrylic paint to make a handbag

Sewing project hand painted purse

Sewing project: a hand-painted handbag

I love plaid

My previous handbag had a stylish clear blue and bright pink plaid print. I recall marvelling at it the first time I saw it through the store window. I decided to buy it as a present for myself. The bag had everything I wanted: beautiful design with perfect functionality. Not too big or too small. All my things fit in it. And most importantly: the shoulder strap was extra long (yep, one of those awkward tall woman must haves for my approval in terms of handbags).


It was a bit of a dark moment when I found out it was broken. I looked for a new bag with similar functionality and cute plaid print. I love plaids. It gives me a warm and cosy feeling. My search for a new bag yielded no results. So I decided to make a similar bag myself.


Textile dyeing // Dyeing fabrics with acrylic paint and adding decorative stitching.

When dyeing textiles I only use fabrics made up of natural fibres, such as 100% cotton. After dyeing the fabric with Dylon, I wanted to paint horizontal and vertical stripes on the fabric, which would create a plaid pattern. In the past, I used Decorfin textile paint, but the jars containing the paint were small and far too pricey.

I always preferred using acrylic paints. That is why I decided to experiment with acrylic paint.


My first observation was that – in comparison to textile dyes – acrylic paint causes the fabric to become stiffen and thicker. To make the paint more diluted and thinner, I added water to the paint. This ended in failure: when I applied the paint on the fabric, the colors started to run. While looking for a solution on the internet, I came across Creall, a textile medium. Mixing the textile medium with the acrylic paint (and a bit of water) I got the desired result. It turned out to be the perfect way to prevent the painted fabric to stiffen or the colours to run.

Lastly, I decorated the fabric with ornamental stitching in different colours to accentuate the plaid pattern.


Click to enlarge // Work in progress: hand-painting and sewing a handbag


[UPDATE 10 February 2015] Acrylic paint creates a thicker effect on the fabric. Poster paint absorbs much better. After this discovery, I would rather use poster paint to dye fabrics.

More blogposts about crafting by Memento Vivi // Irèn Nooren