[HNW] RE: marking on fabric

Chris Laning claning at igc.org
Wed Aug 20 21:23:56 PDT 2003

Bjarne wrote:

>And off cause i forgot to say that it only works if it is a light fabric you
>are going to embellish.
>On dark material you can use the white watercolour pencils.

A number of years ago when I was teaching a quilting class, I went 
down to an art supply store and bought one of every kind of white 
pencil they had, and one of every felt-tip pen in a particular color 
(I chose green).

I made marks with them all on two pieces of fabric -- unbleached 
muslin for the green pens, dark fabric for the white. I  labeled them 
in something I knew does NOT wash out so I knew which pen or pencil 
was in which place. Then I washed both pieces.

The markers that have consistently worked best and washed out most 
completely for me are:

For dark colors: Schwann Stabilo "Aquarellable" pencils, white only 
(color #8052). This showed up well, did not rub off easily, but 
washed out completely. It's a relatively soft pencil, so you do have 
to keep sharpening it if you want a fine line.

For light colors: Pilot Fineliners with a *white* top (the ones with 
yellow tops are permanent), green or blue *only*. (Red and black do 
NOT wash out completely.)

Of course, no sooner did I find these than the manufacturers started 
discontinuing, revising, bringing out new models, changing the names 
and packaging..... <g> But the test method worked splendidly, and I 
think you can still find the Schwann pencils at art supply stores.

For dark colors, another possibility is to buy a new metal pen (like 
a fountain pen) that has never been used with black ink. Fill it with 
white _watercolor_ ink (also from the art supply store). Test it 
first, of course, but this will probably work well and wash out when 
you are done. I've used this to mark quilting lines on very dark 

White tempera paint (common for kindergarten children to paint
with) usually washes out too, but it may be too lumpy for the pen.
You can draw lines with a fine brush if you have a steady hand.

For a particularly difficult project, I once decided to do a very 
detailed small piece of embroidery on a background of navy blue 
pinwale corduroy. (I had a reason at the time, but will try to avoid 
this in the future!)

None of the methods of transferring patterns I could think of seemed
suitable, and I didn't think that the "stencil" method of pricking holes in
a pattern and dusting powder through them would work well on a pile fabric,
either. What I ended up doing was printing out the pattern (a computer
drawing) on tissue paper, fastening it lightly to the fabric with
water-soluble gluestick, and doing a small running stitch in a contrasting
color through all the pattern lines into the fabric. Then I tore away most
of the tissue and soaked the piece in warm water to remove the glue and any
remaining tissue bits. That worked pretty well. The drawing wasn't as
detailed as I would have liked, but all the tissue did come off, since it
was only held by a few running stitches, and I could then go on and do the
actual embroidery, pulling out or hiding the running stitches as I went

Marking the pattern on a soluble interfacing such as "Solvy" would 
also work. I'd recommend avoiding the so-called "tear-away" 
stabilizers for this, though, because in my experience they don't 
completely tear away, but leave little matted bits of fiber partly 
caught under your stitching.

(This is the sort of spiel I should probably think of putting up on 
my website at some point, so people don't get too tired of me saying 
it on the list...)
O    Chris Laning
|     <claning at igc.org>
+    Davis, California

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