Through my many years of sewing, I've had mostly frustration with fabric marking tools. You know - there are the expensive markers that wear out too fast and fade before you have time to actually sew the marked pieces. And there are the horrible pencils that barely leave a mark and require you to practically puncture the fabric to see anything. Using a wheel and tracing paper comes in handy for certain things like darts and seam lines, etc., but it doesn't always leave the best mark, and it's not the best for quick notches and dots here and there. The Frixion pens were promising, but alas, I like to iron my pieces as I sew, and POOF, bye bye Frixion markings.
So yeah...all those marking tools above? Not really for me. They all have their practical uses, but I've found something so much better for everyday garment sewing tasks.
What is this mythical item, you ask?
Admittedly, I can't take full credit for this little discovery. I noticed one of these little gems in the background of an Instagram sewing photo one day in my feed. I can't remember whose photo it was, so please, if you are reading this - let me know so I can give you proper credit!
I did take things one step further though. I decided to test the markers under various conditions to make sure they would make my fabric marking dreams come true.
First, I took scraps of both woven and knit fabric. The woven is a lightweight, all-cotton batiste. The knit is a man's tee that I cut into pieces. I marked all the colors on several pieces of each.
In the above sample, I simply left the pieces out in the air for a few days. The marks didn't disappear! This is great for me as I often don't have time to finish a garment within one (or even a few) days. Sometimes I put things away and come back to them later. I HATE having to re-mark when the air erases my work.
For the above test, I steam ironed the marks on the highest heat setting to try to "set in" the marks. But NOPE - the marks washed right on on a normal wash cycle! Score again as I don't need the iron setting in (or wiping away) my markings!
Next, I tried washing away the marks with just water. As you can see above, I'm sure a little more agitation would take the marks away, but a quick rinse didn't remove them. This is just fine by me as I usually wash my garments after sewing, anyway. Now, if you were making some kind of quilt or art piece that wouldn't be washed upon completion, this might be a problem. But for my kind of sewing, it's perfect.
Finally, I simply threw the above samples into the wash. As you can see, the markings were completely removed with a warm wash and gentle detergent.
And my heart is happy.
The best part is that washable markers are available pretty much anywhere - the drugstore, the local grocer or the arts and crafts store. Or you can buy the ones I used on Amazon (affiliate link)! AND, they come out to less than a buck a piece when you buy the box for a few dollars.
Will you try washable markers for your garment sewing? What other unconventional fabric marking methods have you tried? Anything else I should know about?!