The world of marking pens and pencils things can get a little overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. When I was a child the options were really simple; chalk or a #2 pencil used very lightly, that’s it. Today there are specialty pencils and a wide variety of pens, each has a unique action and each behaves differently on fabrics. Here are some of the marking tools that I like to use:
Typically I use either a water soluble or an air soluble pen. Depending on what my project is, depends on which I will use.
The water soluble marking pen is great if I am marking a large area or if I am doing detailed work that requires more than an hour or two of stitching. It stays where I put it until I wash it out. On my Greatest Women quilt I had some of the marks on there for 2 years and they all washed out! The down side is that if I am using the water soluble pen, I usually mark it at least a few hours before I begin stitching. The reason is because I find it difficult to push the needle through the marked lines while it is wet: The ink creates serious drag issues on the needle. Once it is completely dried however, I have no issue with it.
The air soluble pen is very nice if I can get my stitching done in an hour or two. After that, unless I apply it heavily, it will disappear…completely. Image my surprises the first time I used it. If I apply it by going over the lines 3 or 4 times, the lines will last for days, but by the end of the week they are completely gone. This is a really nice feature because I can see my finished work soon after stitching it and I don’t have to wet the fabric to get rid of it.
Other options which are great for darker fabric are pencils. There are a wide variety out there in the notions departments and each of these are different as well. The silver one you see here is more waxy than the white one, which is more chalky. I also use an actual white chalk pencil from time to time, but I don’t like to because sharpening it can be difficult.
The silver pencil required me to go over the lines several times before I could see it clearly. However, it is a cinch to sharpen and it holds a wonderful point. The white pencil I show here is a combination of wax and chalk. It’s easier to sharpen than a chalk pencil, but it still does crumble and the line is thick. The good thing about it is you only need to mark the line once and you can see it clearly; I like that.
There is another option for marking white lines and that is a Clover white marking pen. This pen is super cool. The first time I ever used it, I thought it didn’t work because no line showed up. Later that day I realized that it takes a few moments before the line appears. At first it only looks like a wet line that is difficult to see, but if you wait for it…
I would love to show you how it looks once applied, but mine is completely emptied of marking fluid and the one I ordered has not arrived yet. As soon as it gets here though I’ll post about it.
Marking your project, whatever it is, should not be difficult and it should not be expensive. The blue water soluble pen that I show above costs me about $2.50 with a Joann’s coupon. The air soluble pen is a bit more expensive but not much, I think it’s around $5.00. The Clover white pen runs about $7.00, but it lasts a long time.
If you have a favorite marking tool, please feel free to share information about it in the comments section below.