I use fabric markers for quilting, embroidery and my sewing projects. Each project has a different degree of expectations for a marking pencil, but my preference is to have one marking pencil that will meet all my needs.
I like to have a fine tip marker, that doesn’t break, yet is able to easily mark straight or curvy lines. And, it MUST come out easily. I’m not one to want to sit there and use an eraser, for a large area, so I prefer something that will come out with a light spray of water, or light turn through the washer.
When I first saw the SewLine Fabric Marking Pencils I thought “they invented this for me”. These pencils are absolutely beautiful, with a fine point, and the marking lead comes in five colors at a reasonable price. This pencil has a special ceramic lead where the manufacturers promote the ease of which you can remove markings, by using a built-in eraser, or simply dabbing with some water or washing. Sounds like the perfect marking tool, but is it?
For any new marking tool that I use, I always put it thru a rigid test. I will mark a piece of fabric with ten different straight lines,but different levels of marking. The first line is only marked 1 time, the next line 2 times, and each subsequent line is marked an incremental time through the 10th line which is marked 10 times. I realize that while you may not ever need to mark your fabric so many times, there are situations where you may need to (in small areas). I will also do a few curves, to see how freely the marking device will travel on fabric. Afterwards, I will handwash. If this doesn’t work, I will run the test swatches through the washing machine. Lastly, I will tape the fabric swatch to a sunny window and leave it hanging for ~six months. This last step is a test to see if there is any residual chemical on the fabric that may react to sunlight.
I believe that everyone should always test the marking pencils they buy themselves, as everyone has a different level of applying pressure when they mark. And we use different fabrics. But I wanted to let you know what I found through my test.
Ultimately, I like the Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils and all of their 5 colors. But I do believe that some of their colors will work better on certain projects, and may not apply to all areas one may want to use a marking pencil. Keep in mind that the manufacturer cautions that you should lightly mark your material, and also encourages you to test as the results can vary with different fabrics. The manufacturer also provides recommendations for which color to use on which shade of fabric. But I view that careful selection of the color of Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils should also be made with consideration of the project. Those that wash out easily could be used on anything, but obviously the colors that do not wash out easily should only be used on a project that it would not be a problem if the marking pencil does not wash out (e.g. inside of a sewn garment).
I found the red & green colors were the easiest to get out of the fabric, with the grey being the most difficult. I found the built in eraser to work ok for a very light marking, that was small, but not a good removable solution for this marker if you were marking a large area and needed to remove it, or lighten it up to remark. Thus, I recommend this marker but want to emphasize that you should test it before you mark your fabric. Especially if there is a risk that where you are marking, on your fabric, could be visible on your finished product, if it doesn’t wash out.
Here is some additional insights on the test I performed on a variety of fabrics and colors:
1) I marked ten straight lines, for each of the 5 colors. The first line was marked one time, next line marked twice…..and last line marked ten times (heavily marked)
2) I used the eraser on the Sewline Marking pencil to try to erase a lightly marked curve. While it did remove the marking, it was a difficult and time consuming process.
3) I hand washed my test fabrics and observed that the red had completely been removed, the green had been removed on the light markings (but not the heavy markings), and while the other colors were still very visible the grey was the most visible (on all of the ten markings and curves).
4) I proceeded with my test by running the fabric swatches through my washing machine. To clarify, my ideal fabric marker would not require me to have to do this secondary washing step (one or the other should be sufficient). While some of the markings had more removed, the grey was still visible on all markings.
I have not yet completed the step where I tape my test fabric to a window with bright sunlight. This is a great test, for those using marking tools on fabrics that will be used in quilting, as over time, quilts may actually be exposed to more sunlight than we realize. And sunlight can often react with any chemical residual that a fabric marking pencil may leave on the fabric. Thus, I’ll provide another update in six months to show my results this phase of testing.
Conclusion: Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils is a great marker, especially for those in need of a fine point marker. But use caution on marking your projects, by ensuring you have completed a test swatch first. Remember to “mark lightly” (do not apply much pressure). And using the green or pink lead may be the easiest for you to wash out, but the other colors also work well for many marking situations, but due use caution and pre-test, if you need to be sure these leads will completely disappear after you finish your project and wash it.