Sewing Tools of Note (9): Fabric marking


I have a drawer full of useless fabric markers – one that makes a mark so faint you can barely see it, one that pulls on the fabric as you use it, so it’s impossible to make a straight line, one that works for a couple of minutes whenever I start using it, but then dries up suddenly and has to have a rest, the propelling pen version that came with Japanese instructions on how to refill (you guessed it, I can’t refill it!).

Finding a decent fabric markers that suited me, and worked well, took me a long time, but I now have a couple of favourites that I wouldn’t be without.


First is the Chaco pen (available at my sponsors Cloud Craft) – which is based on the ages-old idea of using chalk to mark fabric, but delivered in a fantastic way.


There is a little reservoir of powdered chalk, and the tip of the pen is a little roller wheel, that dispenses the chalk evenly on the fabric as you draw. Chaco pens comes in pink, blue, yellow and black, which would cover most fabric colours, and they are, happily for my eco-enthusiasm, refillable. The marks do wear away over time, especially if you are handling the fabric a lot, but they are surprisingly durable, and at the same time are easily erased when you’ve finished the project.

My other marker of choice is the 0.5mm Frixion Point gel pen. You can pick these up at any stationers, and they draw like a standard pen, but are iron-erasable.


They create a lovely thin line and move smoothly across the fabric – they come in lots of different colours, and once, again, you can get refills. Brilliant! I use them all the time, but with one proviso. I always check it doesn’t leave a mark after ironing if I am using it on the right side of the fabric. Here’s a couple of pics showing why:

Frixion pen on dark fabric
After ironing the fabric – not something you’d want on your heirloom quilt!

Ooopsie! Oftentimes you’ll be sewing along the marked line, so it probably wouldn’t matter too much, but I worry about making a mistake that would be there for the world to see!

Have you got a favourite fabric marker? I’m always happy to read new recommendations.  And here are my other Sewing Tools of Note… an eclectic and highly individual series of things that make my sewing easier!

8 thoughts on “Sewing Tools of Note (9): Fabric marking

  1. I recently bought a new white line marker from Euro Japan links (for marking a sashiko sampler)which is amazing – removable just with water (or a steam iron apparently) – when marking with it, it doesn’t look very good, but it dries to a brilliant white line and stands up to quite a lot of handling. Unfortunately as it’s Japanese I can’t tell you what it is called!

  2. I’m a big fan of the friction pen, the pink being my most used. Totally agree about the importance of doing a test on a non visible patch first, also if you will be steaming the friction area later then test with steam, I have had issues where a dry ironed test run behaves differently when made wet! as someone who mainly does dressmaking my most favourite gadget is the NancyZieman seam gauge, it is so useful for adding seam allowances and doing alterations and I use it with my friction pen.

  3. Yes I have struggled with marker pens for the reasons you mention.I find some of them bleed and some are not really very fine.I bought a set of Sharpies for fabric which are not bad but probably not for dressmaking.I used them for faces on things, your. clover one sounds like an excellent marker and will probably try one, thanks for sharing.x

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