How to Paint Fabric & DIY Nautical Dishtowels


How to Paint Fabric - see how to turn fabric into washable works of art!

Have you ever stumbled across something that can solve all of the world’s problems?

Well I have.

Ok – maybe I exaggerate a tad but this is definitely life changing.

Drumroll please …

fabric medium.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kelly, have you been living under a rock” or “Kelly, you really need to get out more.”


Mix this stuff with any paint, apply it to fabric and poof –  it magically becomes washable!

Since I’m on a nautical kick, I whipped up some towels to match my red stove (you can take a tour of my kitchen to see more).

Make these nautical dishtowels and see how to paint on fabric to make it washable!

How to Paint Fabric

Fabric (I used flour sacks from Target or you can use these)
Fabric Medium
Craft Paint (I used Martha Stewart Wild Blueberry and Habanero)
Foam Pouncers
Stencils (I used these)
Paint Mixing Tray – or paper plate

Make nautical dish towels with these supplies

1) Protect your work surface (I like using big rolls of craft paper).

2) Wash and dry your fabric – DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

3) Decide which area of fabric will be painted and portion off that section (I folded the fabric like it would hang when done to make sure I only painted within that area – I put two small pencil marks near the bottom of the fabric so I could see where to paint once the fabric was unfolded).

4) Shake fabric medium then pour 1 part fabric medium to 2 parts craft paint onto your plate.  Mix well – I use the end of a paintbrush.  Mix up a bit of each color.

5) Position your stencils or tape off an area (I used chevron Frog Tape on one) and use foam pouncers to apply paint.  The fabric will soak up the paint so be generous – you may have to apply a few times to the same area.

6) Rinse and dry stencil before moving it to prevent excess paint from rubbing off onto fabric.

7) Let paint dry for 24 hours then heat set with an iron.

8) Start using your dishtowel (or whatever else you’ve painted) and don’t be afraid to throw it into the washing machine!

Painting on fabric and chevron tape

In case you’re wondering, I did have to google the spelling of aweigh.

How to paint fabric to make it washable - love these customized nautical dishtowels

Don’t judge the wee bit of grime on my stove – I actually use this thing – a lot.

Plus I’m too busy painting dish towels to be constantly cleaning.

P.S. I actually had to ask my hubby where our ironing board was since it’s my most dreaded chore – a close second behind cleaning the oven.

P.P.S. Remind me to tell you the story of when our hamster, Susan, kept escaping from her cage and building a nest underneath the stove.

P.P.P.S. Love simple projects – it’s my middle name.


12 Months of Martha at

I’m part of the #12MonthsofMartha team where my BFF Martha Stewart sends me a box brimming with supplies each month to create something fabulous – I only speak the truth.

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  1. I just love your little nautical towels! Oh my, the possibilities are endless, have to get out my stencils! You could make very personalized gifts with painting towels and more! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Very cute Kelly! I have never used this stuff. Fabric markers yes, craft paint yes, but never this one. Have to give it a whirl. Your tea towels are adorable.

  3. Your towels are great! That is my dream stove you have in your kitchen! It is even my color red! So happy for you! It must really be fun to get up and see first thing in the morning! ( on the way to the coffee pot of course!). I love your blog, it always makes me smile!

  4. Kelly, I’m an amateur artist and I didn’t know of such medium. Ha! I guess that’s because I don’t paint on fabric often enough.

    I think I’ll do a bit more now that it’s made easier. 🙂
    Love flour sack dish towels!

  5. Kelly- Cutie, cute, cute! I clicked over to take your kitchen tour- beeee uuuu ti fuuuuulll! I’m in the planning stages with hopes to start mine next summer. I have a question about your sink. Are you still loving it? I definitely want a farm house but am unsure of the finish. I used to think I wanted the porcelain white since you can always scrub and bleach it back white. I always hated ss because of scratches- but now I am at an age and stage in my life that I’m not sure I want to do all that scrubbing. Any thoughts?

  6. I’m the one who’s been under the rock, I didn’t know about Fabric medium! LOL! Must try, love your unique towels. 🙂

  7. I wasn’t able to find fabric medium in my local fabric stores. Even the big name chains didn’t have it. So I purchased textile medium. Will that also work?

  8. Can you place a dishtowel or fabric decorated with this paint/medium mixture in the microwave to heat safely?

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