Quilt Marking Tools


Do you have trouble choosing the right marking tool for your quilts?

If so, you are in good company…

As we discussed on Open Line Friday, Does the Perfect Marking Pen Exist…choosing a marking tool for fabric is always a challenge.

Many quilters like the blue washable markers–but we’ve all heard some horror stories of the ink returning to spoil a quilt.  I gave up on these markers years ago…every time I reached for mine–DRY!  Keeping a supply of working blue pens was just impossible–and too expensive…

Quilt Marking PensThus began my search…


A good marking pens for quilt MUST be:

  • Easy to see
  • Easy to erase
  • Strong–not too breakable…
  • Reasonably priced

Quilt Marking Pens

Quilt Marking PensThe Dritz Chalk Cartridge Set

Go-to marker for all types of marking.  (Slightly thick line–can be sharpened.)

With several colors in the package, it is easy to see.

Removes easily with light brushing.  Occasionally requires a little water to remove.

Rarely breaks and comes with a sharpener.

Price:  $12–lasts forever.

Quilt Marking PensThe Clover Pen Style Chaco Liner

The perfect choice when drawing straight lines, especially when using a straight line stencil.  (Does not mark well on curved lines.)

Available in three colors.  Easy to see.

Easy to remove with light brushing.


Price-$7.  Lasts a long time.  Refills available.

Quilt Marking PensFons and Porter Mechanical Pencil

Great when fine lines are required.

Comes in two colors.  Easy to see.

Easy to remove with white eraser or by rubbing with a damp cloth.

Breakage–this pencil does break a bit–otherwise it might be “The Perfect Quilt Marking Pen”.

Price- $12.  Lasts a long time–though some waste of leads due to breakage.

Quilt Marking PensPilot Frixion Pens

Highly recommended by many quilters.

Many colors–not white.  Easy to see especially on light fabric.

Removes readily with STEAM!–though a light trace remains–which removes easily with laundering.

Does not break

Price – $12 for a pack of five. (Best Value)

Quilt Marking PensClover White Marking Pen

Fine white line–takes several seconds to appear.

Easy to see especially on dark fabrics.

Iron to remove.  A faint trace may remain even after laundering.

Price-$7.  Lasts a long time.

Quilt Marking PensSoapstone Marker

Dull line.

Light.  Can be hard to see.

Easy to remove with brushing.

Rarely breaks.

Price-$12–Lasts forever.

Quilt Marking PensLike most sewing notions, YOU need to be the judge for YOUR projects, YOUR temperament and YOUR budget.

What are YOUR favorite quilt marking pens?

I’d love to hear!



PS…All images, tutorials and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin and share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thank you.


89 thoughts on “Quilt Marking Tools

  1. Like Marilyn, I have used the Crayola washable markers.
    Lots of colors, and they wash out. Their cheap!
    I just bought a Bohin White chalk mechanical marking pencil (extra fine) for my fmq “rails” and really haven’t put it to the test.
    It has its own eraser. Paid $10.49 for it from Amazon.
    Hope it’s good for that price. It’s French – ;o)

  2. Hi Lori! I use the Pilot frixion Pen ever. But I have two Problems with that. The first one is that this pen is too much expensive here in Brazil (about $12 one pen) and it´s hard to find it at the markets. The second is the light trace that remains. I didn´t know I could wash my quilts. In fact I really don´t know how to wash my quilts without causing damages to them. Any suggestion? Thanks!

  3. Seems like one of the really major factors to consider in choosing a quilt marking tool is whether you are willing to wash the quilt. To me, running it through the wash and let it dry or mostly dry laid flat in a safe spot is the next to last step in making a quilt. Bed quilt, baby quilt, art quilt, whatever — all are washed even if they are made on commission. I don’t do a lot of that (and I can see where it would be difficult for professional machine quilters to wash customer quilts) but if I do they get washed. Otherwise they don’t seem like a quilt, to me. Textile art maybe, quilted surface design maybe, quilt — not quite. (And if you are wondering, the last step is to take a nap under it.) Admittedly this is difficult with those 12″ x 18″ wall pieces, but sometimes a short rest fulfills my finishing ritual.

    Please, I’m not trying to start any kind of debate on washing or not washing quilts when they are finished, but merely pointing out that one’s practice in this regard should be one of the first considerations in choosing a marking technique. In short, I think anything that involves a chemical application should be washed out at the end of its useful life (i.e., when your quilt is quilted and bound).

    • Love your last step … and washing might be useful in getting rid of marks, but also gets rid of dust and body oils which a quilt gathers during the making process.

      • I totally agree with the washing step. No one can predict what those chemical marking pens might do to the fabric over time. And body oils from hand handling the fabric either for that matter.
        This was a great tutorial Lori!

    • I too like to wash my quilts when finished. I also throw my quilts in the dryer on a lower setting (crossed hex fingers!!), and if still a little damp lay it out on a bed to finish drying. But, I like the washed, crinkly look.

  4. My favorite is the Bohin White chalk mechanical marking pencil. Easy to use, fine line, eraser works. What’s not to like? There are different color leads you can use too.

  5. My favorite is the blue wash out pen. I have used it over 20 years and have never had any problem washing it out. Like Brenda above, I wash all my quilts after finishing them, and I pin them on my design wall to dry. This way I can block them, as well.
    I store my blue marking pen in a zip lock bag to preserve their life longer.
    When the blue marking pen does not show up, I use a variety of the pens mentioned above.
    I think the Pilot Frixion Pen fall in the same category as the blue pen. However, I love the Pilot pen just like the blue pen.

  6. Great post! I’m always on the look-out cause it seems when I need it, it’s dried up – I live in a rural town so it’s just not that easy for me to have immediate access to purchase a fresh marking pen.

  7. Lori, I have heard on a machine quilting forum about a blue marker remover. I am on the lookout for it. When I find it, I will get one and report back!

  8. Thank you for this wonderful post. I’ve been looking for another marking than the “disappearing” ones. I’ve just ordered the Dritz ones. BTW another post (of many) I loved was the quilters abbreviations.

  9. Thanks for the info on the frixion ball point pens. I just put mine in the pencil hold by the computer for everyone to use for notes. .A very friendly quilt shop by me turned me on to GENERAL’S Pastel chalk pencils. The look like a pencil, sharpen like a pencil.. They do tend to get dull, but you can sharpen them.

  10. I love sharpened chalk board chalk but I am on a longarm. It is cheap and brushes away easily

  11. For me, I am faithful to the fine-tipped blue pens, I buy them with 40% coupons or whenever they’re on sale. I may use up to two to three pens on a quilt top, rotating between them. I store them in a ziplock bag in the dark laying on their side when not in use. I’ve used them for over 25 years and they have NEVER, EVER reappeared on a quilt, and yes, I do wash all of my quilts. I’ve had nightmare issues with other pens, pencils, markers, and colored chalk NOT coming out, all of which claimed that they would, and I’ve tried many brands. I would suggest not letting a marked top sit for an extended length of time before quilting and washing just to be certain the marks don’t set in the fabrics. For me, the blue pens give me peace of mind, a fine line, I know what to expect from them, and I feel it’s worth the little bit of extra money in the long run. What is a few extra dollars when you have many times that tied up in fabrics and batting, not to mention labor?

  12. I like the sewline mechanical pencils. I used the white to mark on black, and I recently used the pink to mark a white quilt and it came out easily is easy to mark fine lines, and I have not had it break.

  13. I agree, the blue pens dry up before I ever really get to use them. I purchased a Bohin chalk pen and used it for awhile. It worked really nice, but like any pen they can break. Mine did and I really don’t want to spend that much on another one. I have often just used a mechanical pencil, because it is readily available and actually works. Generally, I don’t mark for FMQ, just quilt.

  14. I use the Bohinn mechanical pencil. It marks the lines very precisely and it can be brushed us easily. I love to hand applique, hand pieced and hand quilt, However , it can sometimes take a long time to finish them.Hence a like to use a product that can stay in the quilt for a long time and be reuse on the same line as needed.

  15. Thank you for all the information, Lori. I shared this post with my readers.
    I use the BIC washable markers and I am very happy with them. I pressed over the markings then washed the quilt and everything washed out.

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  19. I use the blue marker and after I finish a quilt I put it in the washer bu t do not add laundry detergent. Only baking soda and let it go through the whole cycle.

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