The Cottage Mama’s Sewing Basket: Fabric Marking Pens

First off, I apologize if I sound overly enthusiastic in the following post. But honestly if I could write this post with all caps and end every sentence with an exclamation mark, I would. Secondly, I want you to know that I have absolutely know affiliation with this company or product, I just really, really like it.

So, I didn’t get to take any classes myself when I was teaching at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion, but I did learn a few things. And these Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Pens have changed my life. Maybe you’ve known about these all along and I am late to the party, but oh my goodness, these are the best fabric marking pens ever! They are not designed to use on fabric, but they work like a dream.

Darlene, our classroom machine educator, introduced these pens to my assistant Terri and I during class. She had one and asked us if we had ever seen these, neither of us had, so Darlene showed us how they worked. It blew our minds.

These pens glide along the fabric making a beautiful mark just as they would on paper. And guess how they disappear? With your IRON! The friction of your iron rubbed on top of the fabric makes them disappear practically on contact. There is a little eraser on the pen, but the iron works so much better.

You can buy the Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Pens at your local office supply store or online and they come in a bunch of different colors. The only problem you might have is if you are marking on black fabric, you still might need to use your white pencil or chalk, but other than that, these will be all you’ll ever need in the fabric marking department.

Trust me, you must go out and buy these now!

PS: The Cottage Mama’s Sewing Basket is going to be a new series of posts where I show you all the tools I love to use when I sew. Some may be ones that you’ve heard of and others may not, but I always think it’s fun to get a little glimpse inside someone else’s sewing basket.

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  1. how cool is that!!! Ohhh I can’t wait to see what is in your sewing basket!!!

  2. Please always test before using. These can and have ruined fabrics. I will never use these on batiks as I ended up with a permanent mark.

    • I have used them on cotton lawn, quilting cotton and seersucker since I’ve gotten mine and never had any problem. But I have never tried them on batiks (as I don’t sew with those). So very good point……always test before using. But I love these pens!!

  3. I am going to find these – and thanks to Sandra for the tip on the Batik because I do use those.

  4. I have heard good and bad things about these pens – at a Quilt Guild meeting Monday night a long arm quilter told us a horror story about the marks repeatedly coming back on a completed quilt. She contacted the manufacturer and was told that these pens were not made to be used on Fabrics. Proceed at your own risk. The idea is wonderful but you don’t want to ruin an entire project after all that hard work.

    • Thanks for commenting, Faith. Maybe they’ve improved them because I haven’t had any marks come back on the fabrics I sew with repeatedly, but like Sandra said above……she did have a problem with Batiks. It’s always good to test and make sure a new product works right for you!

  5. Seriously, these are awesome! I agree with Sandra though, I’ve had times where there has been a visable mark where the pen was after ironing. It’s happened only once or twice and I’ve been using these pens for fabric for close to a year. I think it was some dark fabric, but other than that these are AMAZING!

  6. Cool! I need those in my life! The chalk marks are getting kind of old.

  7. I’ve been using mine to mark my white knits for embroidery placement, and have had no issues with the marks showing back up. Kind of sounds like the finish of the fabric may have something to do with it, since batiks are created with wax. It’s always best to test first. I would not use the eraser on fabric (it does leave a stain), but the heat from the iron has made the ink marks disappear on my knits. Love them!

  8. I was just thinking last night how much I LOVE these! I got a set for Christmas but only recently did I try them out. Why in the world did I wait so long?? It made me giggle this morning to see that you posted about them too. I totally get the enthusiasm!!!

  9. These pens are great but the marks will reappear when cold temps hit the fabric so if you are shipping a quilt or clothing in the winter there could be some surprises. There are several articles on the web about this if you search.

  10. No way! I use my trusty pencil and eraser, but that only comes off in the wash and definitely not with the iron. Thanks for the tip, Lindsay!

  11. I just used one of these today, they really do a great job!

  12. I can’t wait to try these. My disappearing ink pens always run dry when I need them most.

  13. Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to see what else you have in your sewing basket.

  14. I use these all the time, love them!

  15. I use these, too, and they are terrific! Much better than any other I’ve tried.

  16. I love these pens! I found them a year ago at Staples – the other two big office supply stores did not have them or I could not find them. I have not had a problem with them and have used them for marking lines for small quilt projects and have also used them for drawing on fabric to be embroidered. A word of whatever – if you are hand embroidering do not use the same color pen as the thread – too confusing. I showed a friend how they work before and after and she was amazed, also.

  17. I read about these on another blog last week; goodness, I thought they were a new product! I got so excited, I called around town and found them at Target. I got a three-pack (pink, purple, orange) for $6.03 with tax. Ran home and used the purple on on some white felt.
    I wanted to make a tag for an afghan I’ve made, so I wrote my name and the date on the piece of felt and drew some vines and flowers and embroidered them. I plugged up the iron and poof–no more purple! I am over the moon about these. Woohoo!

  18. I can’t wait to try these! Just last week I ruined something because I didn’t wait long enough for the disappearing ink to disappear and when I ironed it I now had a permanent mark on my fabric. I mainly use quilting cottons, so this should work like a charm. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  19. Sounds great. I am wondering about any stains on your iron’s sole plate?

  20. I love these pens and have several floating around my sewing desk. However, my 10 year old was doing research on the computer for school and must have used one of MY pens to write notes on notecards. The next morning at school he pulled the notecards out of his back pocket and they were … blank!!! The heat had erased all his notes. Haha!! I wrapped washi tape around them now … he knows NOT to use them!

    • This is seriously one of the most hilarious things I have heard in a long time. He was probably SO shocked when he looked at his notecards. Thanks for sharing this story……you really made my day.

  21. I love these pens 🙂 You can get them in hot pink, purple and turquoise here in the UK now, those ones are my favourite!

    Oh, and it’s cheaper to get a 3 pack refills than buy a whole new pen everytime.

  22. I have been using these for over a year and never a problem. They take just the tiniest touch with the iron to disappear. I even used my hair flat iron to get rid of a mark on a ribbon once. Also cool that they are a regular writing pen, so I can have one less thing at my desk as I don’t need a pen and a making pen. I can make note of measurements with this.

  23. I like them and use them, but they do leave a line on black fabric.

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  25. Oh sweet! I’m going to try these out, I’ve been looking for a good marking pen that actually shows up and disappears when I need it to. Obviously I’ll test out each time but typically I use quilting cotton 🙂 – Thanks for the tip!

    -Amy (