I'm thinking of making some stencils on black fabric, but I'm not sure what paint would work best.

On the internet tutorials say fabric paint is best, but I've painted with white fabric paint on black T-shirts and I wasn't very pleased with the result - I couldn't get the white to be, well, white enough and it looked faded (black paint on white fabric was alright, but not the other way round). I was thinking of using spray paint instead or something similar.

Any suggestions what paint could give me a solid bright white stencil on black fabric?

  • Have you tried applying multiple layers?
    – Joachim
    Mar 22, 2021 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


Your problem is the opacity of most fabric paints; most liquid ones are only designed to work effectively on a white or light-colored shirt, and the thick plasticky "puffy paint" writers aren't going to be effective over large areas or in stencils.

If you're working with just white, opaque white screen printing ink for fabric works very well. It will handle similarly to paint, and like paint you'll need to be careful about it bleeding over the edges, but it will bind to the fabric and retain its white color. Unfortunately, most other colors of screen printing ink tend to be translucent, with the expectation that they would be applied over a layer of the white ink. While aligning the two layers is fairly trivial in a professional setting, it may be more challenging with a hobbyist setup using regular stencils. As you mention just "solid bright white" in your question, however, this is likely your best bet.

Screen printing ink can be purchased in most places that sell art supplies, as well as some crafting supply stores; be sure to check that the type you are purchasing is for use on fabric (Speedball brand has distinct formulae for paper vs fabric printing, while Jacquard branded inks are formulated for both grounds; other brands may vary). Follow the instructions for setting as described on the container for your best results.


For a short-term solution any acryllic paint should work. Acryllics dry almost waterproof and (depending on the dilution and quality of the paint) can cover black fabric with solid white.

The problem is that it's only almost waterproof... The paint won't dissolve in the washing machine, but it will get somewhat sticky, especially if washed at higher temperatures. Big areas or thick layers of paint might stick together or collect all kinds of fuzz and hairs in the machine.

If you want a more professional solution, I'd suggest iron-on film for best opacity, but that has to be cut by a plotter or laser cutter to look professional in the end.

  • 2
    Acrylic is actually generally effective as a fabric paint, with the issue being not that it gets "sticky," but that it doesn't penetrate the fabric and bond with it and, over time, peels away. "Fabric medium" is an additive that slightly thins acrylic paint and allows it to bond and remain flexible.
    – Allison C
    Mar 23, 2021 at 14:04

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