Open Line Friday–Does the Perfect Marking Pen Exist?

Quilt Marking Tools

Happy Friday, Quilters and welcome back to Open Line Friday–where everyone asks and everyone answers.

I’m happy to hear that so many of you enjoyed my daughter’s colorful blog:  Color Route Co.  I love the gorgeous photography and the colors.  It’s always inspirational!

Speaking of inspiration…The Inbox Jaunt Quilting Guild is now open for business on Flickr.  See link HERE.  There are several photos of quilts and projects from readers of The Inbox Jaunt.  You’ll love how they used the free motion quilt patterns in their projects!  Please check it out and ADD YOUR PHOTOS, too!   If you’d like to share photos taken from your smart phone, we are now on Instagram.   Add #theinboxjaunt to your Instagram photos and we’ll all be able to see your progress!

Quilt Marking ToolsOn the docket today:  Does the perfect quilt marking pen exist?  

If it does, I haven’t found it…  There are four things I am looking for in a marking tool:

  • Easy to see
  • Easy to remove
  • Creates a fine (not too thick) line
  • Does not break or run out of ink readily

I have tried a lot of marking utensils, and have narrowed my favorites to a few:

Quilt Marking Tools

I like the Clover chalk wheels whenever I am drawing a straight line with a ruler or stencil.

Quilt Marking ToolsI like the Clover White Marking Pen for use with stencils. The odd thing about this pen–it takes many seconds to show up after you’ve drawn with it.

Quilt Marking Tools

I also like the Fons & Porter mechanical pencil.  It is always sharp, however I have had some problems with the lead breaking.

Quilt Marking Tools

I also use chalk a lot because it is so easy to remove.   The down side to chalk–it creates a  thick line and it isn’t easy to sharpen.

Quilt Marking Tools

I do as little marking as possible on my quilts–I’d much rather be stitching than marking!  I will discuss more about marking on our next episode of Open Line Friday–airing November 1, 2013!

What’s your favorite marking tool?  (And where can we find it?)


47 thoughts on “Open Line Friday–Does the Perfect Marking Pen Exist?

  1. The FRIXION marking pens have worked very well for me. One touch with a hot iron and any marks disappear! I’ve been using them for almost two years and experienced no issues or problems, thus far.

    • I have been one happy camper since I discovered FRIXION. Love the way it goes on and comes off. Guess what? it disappears if you put it in the freezer. Don’t understand why anyone would do that but someone on the Quilt Board mentioned it. It is my number one go-to marker since I discovered it about two years ago. That must have been around the time they were introduced. They are very easy to find. I shop on line.

      • Actually, I understood Frixon ink *reappeared* after exposure to cold. And while folks might not actually put quilts in the freezer, in Canada where I live, a cold car in January or February is more or less the same thing. So unless you know you’re going to keep a quilt indoors all winter (no gift giving, no show and tell, etc.), it’s better to use a different marking tool.

      • I saw a video from a famous quilter (sorry, forget the name and the video is no longer available) that you have to really give a good shot of stem, so the tint will kind of “melt” and no longer will give any trouble…
        I kept this info on my mind because here in Brasil is hardly as cold as Canada and I intend to try Frixion as soon as I can…

    • I also use the FRIXION marking pens and absolutely love them for light fabrics!! What do you ladies use to dark fabrics? Do they make a FRIXION pen for the darker fabrics? 🙂

  2. The SewLine marking pencil was recommended in my Leah Day Craftsy class. It works well on light colored fabrics but I haven’t used it much yet. I found it in an Etsy shop.

    • I just tried the SewLine marking pencil the other day — I’ve been using pink and yellow successfully to mark dark fabrics. I have not tried it on a light colored fabric yet.

  3. I totally agree with Carole. I’ve been using the Frixion by Pilot pen for two years, too, and have never, ever had an issue. They even come in different colors and will make a fine line as well as a little thicker. They are my answer to the perfect marking pen.

  4. The Frixion is by far my favorite! Like Carole I’ve been using it for two years and it has always worked great for me. It takes a considerable number of quilts before it runs out of ink. Frixion is my trusty quilting com”pen”ion.

    • I’m curious about where all of you Frixion-loving quilters live. I, too, have heard of Frixion markings that disappeared under the iron, REappearing when the quilt was exposed to cold later. I’m wondering if the ink washes out for good if you wash your quilt once it’s finished, or if there are still long-term concerns about the Frixion ink coming back in the cold. Also, I personally take FOREVER to finish quilting anything and that makes me even more worried that any chemicals in a marking pen might “set” and not come out all the way once I’m finally finished. I think I need to do some science experiments with the Frixion pens…

  5. I like the Fons and Porter mechanical pencil that has several colors available for light and dark fabrics. I do not mark my quilt top until after it is sandwiched, and I mark as I move to different areas on the quilt for FMQ. I’ve never had a problem with it and find it stays visible as long as I need it to and is easily removed.

  6. For people using Frixion pens – the lines may show up again if exposed to cold temperatures. Just hit it with a hot iron again to remove. Also, a white line may still show up on dark fabrics so do a test first.

  7. When working with straight lines I rely on a Hera marker. Easy for me to see and nothing to “erase” after sewing.

  8. I love Frixion pens. I have used them on light fabric. My sister has had the lines, on dark fabirc, leave white shadows. I don’t know why, or how, you could use a dark Frixion pen on dark fabric and see it at all. On dark, I use the Sewline pencil. I find it harder to remove. I have bought the Sewline Eraser and still have problems.

    • Frixion highlighters are great on dark fabric and they are easier to use than the pens (less pressure needed).

  9. I have used Mark-be-Gone fine line pens and have never had a problem with them. A little spray with water and the mark is gone. They also stay for a few days so I can mark a larger area and stop for awhile if I need to.

  10. I like the SewLine pencil with the ceramic leads and the Crayola Washable markers. I have done a bunch of tests with the Crayola Washable markers – ironing the fabric before rinsing, letting a piece sit for a couple of months, etc. – and the marks have always come out. The only drawback is that it is a thicker line than I would really prefer but the fact it comes out so easily makes it a definite favourite here.

  11. Agree that Frixion for light and white Sewline for dark fabrics is the best I have found in the 30 years I have been searching!

  12. I have not found a reliable pen. The Frixon seems to wear out real easy and I have to press too hard, moving the fabric. I mark a lot of diagonals for cutting, and they give out real easy. The chalk I can see, but they are a bit too thick. I need something for darker fabric, the Fons and Porter graphite is not dark enough. Still looking, I will be reading comments eagerly.

  13. I like the frixon pen and have no problems using it and having it disappear afterwards with a hot iron. I have used it for making blocks and FMQing.

  14. I have used the Frixion marker for over a year now. I haven’t had any problems with lines showing up after ironing it. I have been told by a friend that using the Frixion on batiks will leave a light mark. I, too, have had lots of trouble with lead breaking in the Fons&Porter ceramic lead pen. Other than the breakage, it’s a perfect fit for dark fabrics.

  15. I teach free-motion quilting classes, and one class is devoted to marking quilts and using stencils. The Frixion pens are a hands-down favorite because of the ease of use. The marks disappear instantly with a hot iron (or Clover mini-iron), or when you wash the quilt. The ironed marks will come back when exposed to freezing temperatures, which could be problematic when transporting the quilt. And yes, they will leave faint “ghost” lines on medium or dark fabrics (until washed). There is also a question about the the long-term effects the chemicals in the ink might have–no way to tell about that for another fifty to hundred years from now. The Sew-Line mechanical pencils (or Fons & Porter) are great on dark fabrics, as well as the Clover Chaco Liner (which leaves a thin chalk line). If you’re using stencils, a Pounce Pad is by far the easiest. The Hancey Ultimate Pounce Pad is iron-off (only the white); the blue chalk is great for lighter colored fabrics. You simply stroke the pad across the stencil, and there are your marks–couldn’t be easier.

  16. First, let me say that I really hate marking, and avoid it whenever I can, however, for light fabrics, especially for hand quilting, I seem always to go back to a fine lead mechanical pencil. I also like the Crayola washable markers to mark quilts for machine quilting–eight colors in a package for about $3, so a great value. I used them to mark a king-sized sampler quilt (after testing on all my fabrics) and was quite pleased–the marks were easy to see on every color, and when the quilt was finished, I threw it into the washer and the marks just disappeared!

  17. On dark fabric I mark with soap, when your cake of soap is at the stage you would throw it out place it somewhere to dry out, this is great for straight lines and of course you can remove it with a damp cloth.

  18. I often use the Hera marker from Clover, it shows a line without marking-just a little shine. It is especially interesting for straight lines and gentle curves as well for quilting lines as for template marking, appliqué pre-folding… and many other uses.

  19. Thanks for posting this question. My marking drawer looks a lot like the grouping posted in the picture. I feel like I’ve tried them all and am not real happy with the results. I like to heavily mark my quilts and haven’t been pleased with the markers I’ve used in the past. I like the blue marks b gone pens but it seems they run out quickly — sometimes have to use multiple pens for one quilt. With the fine points and mechanical pencils, I have to press too hard,often making multiple passes to get a good mark. I haven’t tried the frixion or Crayola washables. I like the ease of chalk, but find that sometimes the marks brush off before I’m done quilting. I just read of a recommended brand of blue washable that I’ve never seen or tried and can’t remember where I saw it.

    • Sadly, I had a Frixion Pen marker leave a line that looked like fading on a dark fabric after ironing it. Some of the other people in my quilt group have experienced the same problem. It was a bit sad to ruin the beautiful fabric and quilting.

      I have no idea why this happened. Marking is a necessary dilemma…

      • I haven’t tried the Frixion Pen. Several people highly recommended it, but others, like you, have had some problems with it! I guess I will stick to my chalk pencils–though they are not perfect. Also, someone recommended soap wedges and that has worked well for me in the past. I guess chemistry/science has not caught up with us quilters!

      • I’m back in love with Frixion Pen. When I bought it at my Quilt Shop, I was told to just iron over your mark and it would come out. It usually worked fine. However, once it didn’t work, so I quit using Frixion pens. I’ve missed my Frixion pen, but have gone back to my chalk. I’ve also ordered a Clover Fine line White pen. Then, lo and behold, I picked up a package of Frixon pens at a vender for a local Quilt Guild, and read the directions! The recommendation was to remove the Frixion pen lines with bursts of steam from an iron held about two inches above the fabric. I went right home, and did just that. It was amazing to watch the phantom lines come right out of my formerly ruined quilt!! Will I ever remember to stop rushing in without reading the directions? I also read that the eraser at the end of the Frixion pen takes the line out, but haven’t tried that because it seems like I might stretch my fabric as I erased. Has anyone had experience with that?

    • I believe it was Barbara Shapel who said when she uses chalk she “sets” the marks with cheap hair spray, which then washes out.

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  21. I know this is late, but I will add my own thoughts regarding the Frixion pen. I would not use the highlighter, don’t think it comes out of fabric. TEST FIRST!! The lines come out permanently if the quilt is laundered with soap. Same with the white lines on dark fabrics. Either launder, or just dampen with water, and that should take care of them. I love the Frixion pens.

    • Hi Carmen, Thanks for your advice–it is timeless–TEST FIRST! Unfortunately, quilters can be an impatient crowd–we like to jump right in. (I speak for myself, of course.)

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  24. I recently discovered the Chubby Crayon by Miracle Chalk and I love it. It’s easy to draw with and the marks come out with a hot iron. I purchased it from Amazon because it was a penny less than ordering from the manufacturer and the shipping was free.

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