There are hundreds of paints available for you to use when stenciling and painting quilts and whichever paints you start with, I encourage you to try those paints out on a sampler before beginning any project. Be sure to abuse the sampler with washing in hot and cold, colour testing it in soaking detergent and purposefully staining the sampler and then stain removing the damage using commercial laundry stain removal products to see how your paint holds up.
Obviously for art quilts you don't need to be as harsh with your sample as you'll probably never wash it, but I like to be confident with my choices and am happy to tell you that the fabrics your paint and stencil today will last as long as commercially printed fabrics. So have no fear, stencil on!
Here are my staple paints I work with, wash and recommend.
And you can mix colours and blend your own just like you would with regular paints. My only 'caution' is that these paints are strong pigments and usually offered in the pure pigment hue making them much brighter than usually expected.
This paint is perfect for high use items, like my tablecloth below. This paint feels like the next level of pigment, it will never leave. I've soaked, hot washed and stain treated this tablecloth stenciled with Permaset and the ink isn't going anywhere!
This simply means you might need to blend several tones to get the tint you want, but it is a detail that really struck me - the strong clear pigments when I was after a soft, toned romantic shade.
I purchased a whole spectrum of colours but only ever used the primaries along with white and black to tone them down. I wasted a lot of these paints because I never used them, I mostly mixed my own pallette and didn't actually need to buy all the 'individual' colours that I did. An excellent paint, I definitely recommend.
One of my favorite acrylic paints that I always return to is the Jo Sonja range of acrylic paints. I use the tubes, bottles and cap bottles across the whole range, they're all excellent.
And what a range it is! If you have a colour in mind, you'll find it ready and waiting. A huge advantage across the Jo Sonja range is the range of colours. You can really pick and choose gorgeous colour schemes without creating your own mixes, which is ideal when you're starting out and want to purchase different shades of any colour, or a range of shades within a certain tone value without mixing them yourself.
The metallics are also very good, I especially love the pale and rich golds, they always add an extra element when brushed lightly over other colours like my green leaves below.
I started out with the Jo Sonja range and I've used them all - including the crackles, sheens and dusts - with great effect. All these paints are acrylic which means that you can use them when you're done with stenciling for other things. I've had many of my Jo Sonja paints which I purchased in bulk for workshops, for over 10 years and they are still in excellent condition.
The only thing you need to be mindful of if you opt for Jo Sonja paints is that you will need to use a textile medium to make the acrylics permanent on fabric. As there is a Textile Medium in the range, this isn't a concern. If you follow the instructions on the Medium, it makes any of the acrylics permanent on fabric. I have done this many times and it really is permanent, so don't be worried on that front.
The acrylics dry quickly, so if you are working on a larger piece you may want to use the range's version of a Retarder Medium. You can use this with the Textile Medium and all it does is slow down the drying time of the paint. It can also be used to save any paint you have mixed overnight when sealed in a container.
Today, if I'm stenciling a quilt, I reach for the Jo Sonja paints- I trust the range and have made most of my own stencil quilts with this brand. I have also used he Textile Medium with ordinary (not for the purpose) pencils and crayons to great - and permanent- effect.
Lastly, I want to talk about Caran d-Ache crayons in the NeoColor 2 Watersoluble range. I now use these the most in my quilting and applique. This is because they are so versatile and easy to use, there is no tedious set up or preparation.
Usually I work with these crayons to add highlights, definition and embellishment to my blocks. I do this even when I'm not creating a 'stenciled' or painted quilt. For art quilts, you can use them directly. For all other quilts, I use them with a small amount of textile medium to make them permanent. As these are the paints I most often reach for now, I can't recommend them enough. Even if you will never stencil or paint a quilt block, there's real scope to enhance your non painted work with these crayons.