Wednesday, 16 March 2011

March of the Tools: magic fabric pens


For my first March of the Tools post I wanted to talk about fabric pens. There are so many temporary fabric marking pens on the market, but I think many are fundamentally flawed. Often I've found that in reality they don't magically fade away after 24 hours as promised and at other times I've found that wetting the fabric to make the ink disappear can leave a water mark or, if I've been embroidering letters, doing this has even caused a small amount of colour run. All horrible, traumatic things.


So it's been with utter delight to discover an entirely new type of pen. Frixion pens are sold individually or in packs of three colours and magically disappear the moment they come into contact with your iron, even on the coolest setting (so perfect for silk too). The disappearing act is instant. Less than one second, leaving not the slightest trace of your inky message.


Here I've used it on one of Anna Maria Horner's palest plain voiles and there's no trace of it after touching the iron to it.


I can't recommend these wonderful pens highly enough - you can see them easily on heavily patterned fabric, they're incredibly inexpensive, and perfect for marking out embroidery designs, pattern markings and seam allowances. You can even use them on paper (where you can erase the pen with friction or heat...I don't use the friction method for fabric as I wouldn't risk doing anything that could cause the material to 'furr' or distort the fabric weaves).

The only area in which their brilliance is a little less shiny is during a project with a great many pattern markings that needs to be pressed frequently at each stage of construction. For example, I used these pens when making the Negroni shirt and pressed every seam as I went...meaning that I had to be incredibly careful not to accidentally erase the numerous markings I'd transferred denoting buttonholes. The only other downside is that they won't show up well on black or navy fabrics...but don't worry, for those fabrics I have a different tool - I'll share that with you in my next installment. In the meantime, if you want to buy yourself some Frixion goodness you can find them on Amazon here. (The current cost is about £5.40 for three. And if you don't like those colours, then you can search for 'Frixion' to reveal greens, pinks and other lovelies).

March Tools aside: you might remember that I recently posted about the Lisette patterns for adults from the makers of Oliver + S. You can now find them on English shores at Backstitch, here.

Florence x

32 comments:

  1. They look perfect, good for a precise line too- always a problem marking fabric reliably, I have found chalk pencil doesn't always come out first wash and blue disappearing pen does not always disappear. I have ordered some already!

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  2. oh these look so fun! I've always hated chalk pencils because I just can't get them to work for me. I found this on Amazon.com for just $2.99 for one so I'm definitely going to give it a try. Thanks so much!
    ps: Now I'm super excited for the rest of the march of the tools!

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  3. These pens look great, I have to get some! Thanks for the tip :-)

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  4. I can't remember now where I read this, but someone had tried a fabric pen that disappeared as promised, and as the person was getting all set to write a glowing blog-review, the mark re-appeared about a day after disappearing! It definitely WASN'T this brand of pen, but I just wondered if you'd looked at "erased" marks after some time to see if they're still erased? I hope so - I would so love to buy a bunch.

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  5. I have nothing of relevence to say about marking pens but - your handwriting is gorgeous. My spiders who have danced through ink that appear to write for me are jealous. ;o)

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  6. Oh wow, they look perfect! I am always on the hunt for the perfect fabric marker, and I can never keep up with my current disappearing one.

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  7. I shall definitely look up those pens. I have a yellow fabric marking pen with ceramic leads (like the pink one you have) - all very well and good until it's under the yellowish glow of my sewing machine light, then it's all but invisible!

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  8. i've got to head to Amazon to get a gift anyone, so I may as well treat myself too :)

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  9. I'm so glad you are spreading the word on these pens.I work for a stationery company and we have been selling these pens about two years and I think they rock.

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  10. I'm so glad you are spreading the word on these pens.I work for a stationery company and we have been selling these pens about two years and I think they rock.

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  11. Here's a heads up. I love these pens and use them but here's a word of warning. The marking are not entirely gone (I know it looks like it but they're not). Try this simple test. Mark a scrap of fabric and then iron it off. Then put it in the freezer for just a little while, the marking return just like when you originally did it. An iron removes it again but it will come back again and again. Most of us don't put our quilts in the freezer so it's not a problem but you should know. BTW, I'm still using them.

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  12. I have been looking for something like this for a while and shall certainly get an order off to Amazon. Thank you for this very helpful information.

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  13. thanks for the tip. given the price it's worth a try. Although the remark about putting fabric into the freezer makes me wonder... would it show in cold weather?

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  14. I'm always on the look out for fabric pens... Mine are now on order from Amazon :D

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  15. I use these pens for work, they're great if I make a written mistake, as I can just rub it out and re-write. I never thought of using it on fabric, might just give it a go!

    Sarah

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  16. This is quite a coincidence because yesterday at my quilting group a friend was singing the praises of Frixion pens. She showed me a leaf-shaped applique piece which she had marked and then inadvertently ironed, resulting in the removal of her carefully marked lines. She simply popped it into the freezer (as mentioned by Robin Quilts, etc) and presto - her lines magically re-appeared. Apparently once the fabric is washed, all traces disappear permanently. Must rush out and buy some!

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  17. Gone are the days of chalk eh!?! I like the ones that you have found. I may have to give them a go. Also, you inspired me to make the crustless quiche recipe I make when I read about yours the other day. I think that yours is the more up market version, and I fancy giving a go. Mine is more of a throw stuff together recipe but it is delicious. I have put the recipe on my blog if you fancy it!

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  18. Florence, you made my sewing life so much easier! I've been looking for the perfect fabric marking pen for such a long time and now I found out that I can buy them just around the corner in every color I like!
    Thank you so much! :)

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  19. Goodness, I love how much more I find out when I've posted something - I had no idea about the freezer trick - that sounds like a bonus, if you accidentally erase markings that you'd meant to keep. However, no, I've never ever had any of my markings magically reappearing without the freezer and I'm delighted to report that Mr Teacakes has worn his Negroni shirt in extremely cold weather conditions and has never suffered the indiginity of unexpectedly looking like a surgeon has been marking him up for an operation.

    Loula Belle that crustless quiche looks very good - thank you for drawing my attention to it!

    Thank you so much for your comments and enthusiasm! x

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  20. These look brilliant!
    Can I just say how much I am loving reading this blog? I have only very recently discovered it, but I am gleaning both lots of inspiration and some good advice from it too! Keep it up please! :-)

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  21. I was just on amazon about to buy myself a pack of these when it occurred to me that I may already have some... just been to check in my 'Pilot, Bumper Bargain Barrel' (or some such) and hark... 2 of these, a pink and a green. Result! I am unbelievable happy!!

    And thanks for the link! xx

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  22. ooh, I'll have to try those. Although my main problem with fabric marking pens has not been that they don't disappear, but that they run out of ink so quickly (I promise that I am putting the lids back on properly). The pencils only last about 2 minutes, as the leads keep breaking. This week I even ended up using blackboard chalk (cutting inside it, so there's none on the fabric I use)...

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  23. Wow. I have had these pens for months and just thought they were cool because you can use the "eraser" to erase. But I had never thought to use them on fabric and then iron it. I actually just had a pen die on me at work yesterday. So cool! They make highlighters too!

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  24. I have those pens and it never occurred to me to use them when sewing. THANKS!

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  25. These are just what I've been looking for! Thanks so much for finding them for us.

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  26. oh, this is wonderful! I have the opposite problem - my disappearing ink pens become permanent when I iron over them. I can't remember how many times I've smacked my head in frustration after steaming a thick purple line permanently into my fabric. And seriously, purple? could it be any worse?

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  27. these pens are great I use them all the time to mark my fabrics. Love from Spain

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  28. I think you've had the Delia effect on sales of these pens. I ordered some last week and have just had an email saying that they're in short supply and they can't say when they'll have more in.
    I wonder why?

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  29. They look great - thanks for the tip. Have never yet found a fabric pen that hasn't caused some problem or other.

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  30. So I was so excited when i read about this a while back that I went out and bought a set. They have worked great so far but I have been really worried about using them on a quilt I am making for mothers day. I wanted to use them to mark my quilt top lines. I took a piece of the fabric I was using and wrote a note on it and washed it... it came out of the washer with the note still there. It does not wash away. Obviously it goes away in the drier but if I then put the piece in the freezer it comes back.

    I know someone posted earlier that it washes away... this is not true and I wanted everyone to know.

    Though I don't anticipate my quilt ever being in freezing conditions and I not thrilled that the ink is still there.

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  31. Thanks for your message Amber Lynne - sorry you don't love the pens quite as much as I do. However, they're not meant to wash out - they are designed to be used on paper too, and if the ink was to be washed away a sneeze or a spilt drink could be a disaster. The pens are designed specifically to react to heat, not water, so the lines can only be removed by heat or friction, not water. The whole quilt in the freezer thing, while interesting, doesn't really worry me - I'm intending for my quilts to always be somewhere warm and snugly...but I'd definitely advise that anyone wanting to take their quilt into the freezer should avoid these pens...they won't be right for you ;-). Florence x

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  32. I got these pens today - late to the party I know. The freezer thing doesn't bother me but I wondered if just ordinary cold would have an effect. So I popped a sample in the fridge for a couple of minutes and yes it did come back. Extreme temperatures don't concern me but moderate ones do. I will be using it for embroidery and sometimes things will be taken out for a walk in cold weather. Mostly the embroidery will cover it anyway but it is something I shall be aware of. Was interested that someone said once washed (after treatment presumably) that the mark goes away for good.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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