CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Paint Fabrics the Quick and Easy Way

Quick and Easy Fabric Painting & Surface Design on Scarves

What you will need:

  • A blank scarf of any type of fabric. I like silk the best because of its soft hand and flowing quality.
  • A craft table large enough to spread the scarf out flat with room around it to work.
  • Plastic to cover the table.
  • Jacquard Product’s Dye Na Flow paints. I recommend no more than four colors to start with.
  • Jacquard Silk salt. Table salt also works but will give a smaller, tighter textured pattern.
  •  Spray bottle filled with tap water.
  • Medium size watercolor brush.  Inexpensive bamboo brushes work well.
  • A hair blow dryer
  • A simple abstract design to use as a template or for inspiration.
  • Optional: Jacquard Tee Juice Markers, Jacquard Lumiere or Neopaque paints.

How To:

As an art educator, one of my favorite classes and workshops to teach is silk scarf painting.  This is one of my most popular courses and I’m excited to share my tips here today.  This is a fun and no fail way to paint new scarves or to give an old scarf new life.

1. Spray your craft table with a light mist of water taking care to spray the edges and corners. Cover the wet table with plastic and smooth out most of the wrinkles and bubbles.

spray table with water and lay out plastic

2. Lay your scarf out and spray with water, smooth out wrinkles and bubbles. The main reason for this is to keep the scarf from moving around when you paint or draw on it.

3. At this point you can draw lines, stems, flowers, dots etc. with your T juice markers keeping in mind that the water will make your lines fuzz and flow out for an abstract look. If you do not want this look then you need to paint your design on first with the Dye Na flow paints , and then dry with a blow dryer.

spraying with water for a watercolor effect

4. After the scarf is dry but still stuck to the plastic on the table, you can draw all kinds of detail into your design.

Note: I do not recommend using the markers when the scarf is wet with paint because the paint will clog the markers and render them useless.

5. As you are painting your design and the paint is still quite wet, this is the time to sprinkle small amounts of salt on your paint for a textured watercolor look.  This salt action takes about 20 minutes to give the desired texture look. I like to paint my scarf about a 1/3 of the scarf at a time. This way I can paint and sprinkle salt, paint and sprinkle salt.

sprinkling salt for a textured effect

Tapping load brush for a speckled effect









6. After the salt has done its job and you are finished painting your design, dry your scarf with a hair dryer set on medium heat with a slow back and forth movement. You’ll want to hold the dryer about 2 feet away from the scarf to prevent salt from blowing around and to prevent the scarf from blowing off the table.

7. Now is a good time to do details and embellishments so, it is important that the scarf be dry and still sticking to the plastic on the table.

8. There are several things you can do now to give your scarf some highlights and pizazz:

*You can draw in a multitude of highlights and details with your T-juice markers.

*You can use stamps to add characters and designs.

*You can use Jacquard Lumiere paints to add dots, highlights and bling.

Note: I do not recommend painting the whole scarf with Lumiere paints  because your scarf will be stiff and the color will tend to flake off.

9. When you are completely satisfied with your scarf you will need to dry it completely and then iron it on both sides with your iron set on “silk” setting.  This is a very important step as the heat is what makes the color permanent.

finished scarves

10. The last step is  hand washing your beautiful scarf in lukewarm water with a few drops of mild detergent and rinse with a few drops of fabric softener.
Iron your scarf one last time and your beautiful scarf is ready to wear or give to a special person.



Diana Liebe is a professional artist of many styles as well as an instructor for Jaquard Products.  Jacquard is a manufacturer of  fabric paints, dyes and screen inks located in Healdsburg, CA.  If you are interested in learning more about Jaquard products and would like to set up a demonstration or an affordable workshop for you or your group, please call or write to: Diana Liebe 707-245-7512 ,  dianaliebe03(at)

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