The How & Why of Marking Fabric
If you sew garments, quilts, kids items or home accessories, you will find that at some point you will need to write on or mark your fabric. It might be marking two pieces that will need to fit together or the placement of closures, darts, pockets or pleats.
Sometimes a pin or a small snip in the seam allowance will work but often you'll need something a bit more permanent or a bit easier to see while you work.
There are soooo many different types of marking tools that wading through the various options is both confusing and overwhelming. So here are my go-to favourites which you might also like to try for yourselves.
Chalk / Chacopel Pencils:
These are my absolute favourites. They come in lots of different colours so there's always one that you'll be able to see and use on a particular print. I sharpen them like a normal pencil to get a nice fine point and they are very easy to remove with the wipe of a damp cloth. Clover are my favourite brand as they are a little softer so they mark more easily than cheaper ones. Love them!
Good old HB school pencils are great to mark fabric in inconspicuous places and busy prints. I only press lightly, just enough to see my marks. I love them on denim when chalk tends to fall off when I move the fabric around too much. I found this 4B pencil useful in sewing - it came with a set of those plastic containers that you can write labels for. It makes a darker line than the HB without needing to press so hard. I also lead pencils to write myself notes on pattern pieces and instructions - easily erasable when I change my mind or mess up the maths and there's less risk of ink blobs and any leaking onto other fabrics ;)
Pens & Textas
There are two main types of marking pens - air erasable and water erasable. I've met people who swear by them but I've had mixed success with getting the blue ink out again. Air erasable ones have been handy in marking projects that I don't want to get wet again such as delicate fabrics or on the right side of the fabric but under a layer of clear plastic.
This tool is my second favourite piece of fantastic plastic after my point turner. It's called a Hera Marker and it is mainly found in a quilters kit for marking the quilting lines. The curved end leaves a just-visible crease in your fabric rather than a drawn line. It's also handy for folding up a seam allowance (crease and then fold rather than using an iron) and also for 'finger pressing' seams open. Very easy to use as you just hold like a pencil and press down firmly on the curved end to mark the fabric. It helps to also use a clear quilting ruler. It's hard to photograph but can you see the line? This tutorial
Other Marking Tools:
Here's a few other items I found in my drawers that mark fabric. They're so handy that they're still in their packets! Ooops.
The white ink pen is nice fine line but it's 'heat erasable' with the waft of an iron; not as useful as it sounds.
The transfer pencil is for embroidery designs - you sketch out your design in reverse on paper using this pencil and then iron it onto the fabric, magic happens and the pencil marks transfer ready for you to stitch over;
And lastly dressmaking carbon and tracing wheel. Place the paper chalk side down onto the wrong side of your fabric, trace over your dart or pleat pattern piece with the wheel, lift up and see a line of small dots to show you where to sew. I remember using them in Home Ec classes but not since.
So that's my round up - what's your favourite marking tool?