Monday, June 23, 2008

Marking Tools

Once, I ruined a blouse because the lines I made to guide decorative stitching did not wash out. I used colored chalk and a holder for that catastrophe. Ever since, I have been on a quest for the perfect marking tool. Air and water soluable markers make nice clear marks, but for some unknown reason, mine dry out rather quickly. Even though I'm careful to replace the cap, I've seldom had one that lasted more than two or three months. Chalk wheels are good, but it's hard to make small, precise marks with a wheel. Good old tracing paper and tracing wheel are fine for marks on the inside of garments - just in case the paper is wax-based and won't come out if you iron over the marks. And, I still have nightmares about Cidell's experience with orange wax chalk.

I read a tip about using Crayola erasable colored pencils to mark fabric and a fabric eraser to remove the marks. I've been using them quite successfully for several months. (NB Do not use the Twistables - the eraser makes a darker mark than the pencil. What a mess!) I like the ease and maneuverability of using a felt tip marker on fabric. Even though I was happy using erasable colored pencils, I tried washable markers. The marks were bold and visible, but were they truly washable?

I conducted a little experiment (on a day when I had too much time on my hands). I used a piece of gray cotton broadcloth and marked with the washable markers and erasable colored pencils. It was much easier to write with the markers - they glided over the fabric like a dream – just like writing on paper. The pencils dragged and skipped on the fabric causing gaps.



Then, I washed the cloth by hand using bar soap. The erasable colored pencil washed out almost completely. If you look carefully (click to enlarge), you can see traces of the purple marker still on the cloth. (I used a regular colored pencil to label the samples.)



The results of my experiment were not new or earth-shattering. Both the erasable pencil and the washable marker washed out without special laundering. My quest taught me there is no perfect marking tool. It's always best to test first. If I'm unsure about using any kind of marking tool, I use thread tracing.

11 comments:

  1. I still have nightmares about that stoopid chalk.

    The washable pencils have got to be cheaper than what I'm buying at Joann!

    Thanks for running the test!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the experiment! I'm going to have to try those eraseable pencils.
    -Nneka

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm going to have to try those pencils too! Thanks for showing the results.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good info--thanks for sharing your curiosity and results with us.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great experiment, and thanks for doing this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I use the pens that have purple air soluble on one side and blue water soluble on the other. I have had one of them for over a year, and just now it has dried out, and I live in an extremely dry climate. THread tracing works well, but is sometimes a pain on things like fish eye darts. If you've never used a hera marker, you should give it a try. It works great, but not on all fabrics. I agree, you MUST test. (I also read a great tip about using the tide pen to get rid of marker on fabric.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the info on the marking pens/pencils. I am ALWAYS on a quest to find a great marking system.

    Thanks also for the comment on my blog. My coordinated wardrobe is quite by accident. I started with the print top and just pulled from my stash to add on and it just happened. I always want to do a SWAP but get caught up or confused when it comes to the planning. I just haven't been able to make it happen YET!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Elaray, I've had some of the same marking nightmares and have a similar collection of "perfect" marking tools. Now when I'm getting ready to start a project, I cut out a 5" square of the fabric, mark it up with all of the candidate marking tools and wash it. It lets me test the shrinkage as well as the marking results. No more nightmares if I'd just get to sewing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you! this was extremely helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for doing the test. I just experienced a horror using black wax marker on polyester charmeuse and had to pre-treat each marking. Carolyn @ sewingdiaryfanatic directed me to you.

    ReplyDelete