Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quilt Marking Tools Put to the Test

So after an interesting conversation on Instagram, I decided to throw all my cares to-do-list to the wind, and conduct another (non) scientific test of the tools I have and like to use.

This is BY NO MEANS a comprehensive test, this is just me messing around, sharing my not-so-scienfitic results with you.

This pictures shows the fabric and the tools I used.
Fabric Marking Test

I used Kona White and Kona Charcoal as the fabrics (because they were close), and the tools were: blue Mark-B-Gone pen, white Crayola colored pencil, white Dressmaker's Marking Pencil, yellow Crayola colored pencil, black Frixion pen.

In this picture, I simply spritzed the fabric with water to show what disappears. Or smears... :)
Fabric Marking Test - Wet

Here I scrubbed the fabric to simulate washing. Obviously it would be a bit better with washing, but I didn't want to take the time to do that. :)
Fabric Marking Test

You can see the white marks disappeared from the Charcoal fabric, and the yellow and black Frixion marks smeared and did nothing.

Here's a close-up after scrubbing to show that the yellow was almost gone, and that you can't see any other marks - colored pencil or Frixion pen. Remember that...
Fabric Marking Test

Oh, I ironed it! Lookie lookie!
Fabric Marking Test

And here it is after being in the freezer (or a cold car in the winter) for 5 minutes:
Fabric Marking Test

Hmmm....not the best results....

And then I ironed it a second time:
Fabric Marking Test - Ironing 2nd Time

So, I didn't take process pictures, but I decided to see what would happen if I scrubbed and rubbed it with soap, trying, mostly, to get the yellow colored pencil out.  I then ironed it (to dry it, really), and froze it again. Here it is after 10 minutes in the freezer:
Fabric Marking Test - Later...

I think all the marks are much less noticable after this, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I will say this. Last February, I made a quilt for Kelly's baby, Tucker, and used the Frixion pen to mark all my quilting lines -- then hardly sewed directly on them at all! And I used it to figure out what I was going to write on the label, then changed it. I thought the Frixion pen would disappear forever at that point, but learned later that it doesn't. I asked Kelly yesterday, and she said she hasn't seen ANY marks on Tucker's quilt, and she's washed it multiple times. She lives in Florida, though, so the quilt probably hasn't seen freezing temperatures... :)

So, that's it!!

PLEASE feel free to share what kind of marking tools you like to use, and why. I know all 12 of my readers will be happy to find a good one! :)


  1. Gosh this is good to know! So, based on what you've found it looks like the Mark Be Gone pen is the best choice? Two times now I've used EZ Quilting Washout Pencils and have had trouble getting all of the marks out...even when trying white vinegar. I'd really like to find something better to use.

  2. I'm in love with the water soluble Clover pencils. Like the blue pens, but they don't dry out.

  3. Interesting! I am going to mark a quilt top tonight so this is very timely. I don't know what the heck I will use. I have a chalk pencil but it doesn't mark the fabric very well.

  4. This is great research, Melissa! I usually use a blue Marks-Be-Gone, but it can be really hard to get rid of. If I am throwing the quilt in the wash, I know it will come out, but if I am making a quilt for a fabric company, or a mini, I generally don't wash them and then I have to worry. I am interested in trying a Hera Marker.

  5. I don't do a lot of marking, but I sometimes use Frixion. Red for dark colors, black for light (I think?). The marks go away with an iron, but *sometimes* leave a very faint outline. I've used a yellow Clover chalk wheel for extensive FMQ quilting marks on a dark quilt before, and those all came out in the wash.

  6. I have been using the Sewline pencils. It has washed out of anything I have used it on so far. This sounds like an interesting guild presentation topic!

  7. I love my Frixion pens - I believe that when well washed in a machine the ink goes, which won't return in cold conditions, and apparently the marks after ironing are leftover ink, which also goes in the wash (someone else I read in the last week and a half catch up had experimented too, but don't ask me who o.O)

    I use the Sewline pencils as well, but not for extensive marking

  8. I've used the blue pens that wash out after rinsing in water quite often. I've had to rinse several times since the marks can reappear. This seems to be stray markings that migrate into the batting or something. Chalk works if you plan to quilt right away, since it rubs off easily. Roxanne's silver marking pencil works pretty well on darker fabrics. Haven't tried the Frixion pens, but am reluctant to do so. Thanks for sharing your results.

  9. Am always scared of anything pen getting near fabric since most of them are non archival and can leave latent chemicals. Chemicals which can later aid in fabric disintegration. That's the archivist in me speaking.


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