I think we've all had bad experiences with the purple Dritz fabric marker with disappearing ink. So much time spent carefully marking all the important points on your pattern pieces, only to find them gone the next day. Or, you plan to use a purple fabric and the ink blends right in! What to do?
Now, I can't take credit for this. I read it in some sewing forum, but I can't remember which one. The cheaper alternative: Crayola Washable Markers.
Yes, the same markers your kids use. For about the same price as one of the Dritz markers, you can get a whole pack of the fine tip Crayola markers. I have used all the colors, and in my personal experience I have not had a problem getting any of them to wash out. I even used the red marker on a quilt with a white background, and found that my water bottle leaked inside by bag. The red ink was smeared all around, and I was afraid it was going to stay that way. When the quilt was finished, I washed it as I usually would and all the ink came out!
Of course, always do a test swatch, iron and wash it to make sure the ink will come out.
Another good marking option are the Pilot Frixion pens. I bought a 3-pack with red, blue and black, and someone gave me the pink pen. These make a very fine line, so they are good for very precise markings.
These markings disappear under heat, so once you iron over them they are gone. Well... not exactly gone... I read a story of a quilter who used one of these pens on her quilt top. The quilt was flown to a quilt show, and lo and behold the pen markings had returned!! How?? Apparently freezing temperatures brings them back, even after washing. So I would recommend using the frixion pens for markings that will be hidden in the finished garment, or just don't go into below freezing temperatures? And if you do accidentally erase your markings, try putting your fabric in the freezer--they might just come back!
Do you have any unusual tools for marking?
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