Erasable pen experiment

I have now washed my Jacobean piece in cold running water, extracted some of the water with a clean towel, and it is drying.  My fingers are crossed.

I thought I might do an experiment with my transfer pens and pencil before I throw them out.  From top to bottom I have used  a ‘fabric and silk fade-out marker’. a ‘water erasable marker pen’, and an ‘iron-on pattern pencil, water erasable’.  The first two are the easiest to use, because the design is simply drawn on.  Finer lines are not easily achieved by using a lighter touch, and from experience, would fade too quickly with the fade-out marker.  The pencil is a bit more fiddly because the design has to be drawn on paper first (remembering to reverse the design),  but this offset by being able to control the thickness of the lines by sharpening the pencil.  The fabrics used, from left to right, are cotton evenweave, silk dupion, and a finer cotton, which is probably used for curtain lining.

So here are the results.


You may well wonder what has happened here.  Quite simply, the pencil’s instructions indicate using an iron temperature of at least two spots.  Nothing at all transferred when I did this!  So I upped the iron heat to three spots, and held the iron in place for several seconds.  I used an ironing net to protect everything.  In spite of that I have scorched the cover on the ironing board, and as you can see, the silk is the only fabric to accept the transfer.  On the package it says that it is not suitable for silk, only for natural material.  So far it’s not so good is it?

So now to remove the lines.  I washed all three under cold running water.  The fade-out marker took a few minutes to disappear, but the water erasable pen washed out easily. The pencil did not.  So I applied a little soap, and the mark was still theree even after gentle rubbing when using cold water.  Then I repeated this using warm water, and the mark did disappear.

Next to iron all three fabrics. to see if anything would reappear.  Nothing to be seen, even when holding up to the light.

The third stage was to reapply the fade-out pencil and the water erasable marker, to find what happens if they are not washed out.  I spritzed the fabric so that the chemicals would remain.  as the fabric dried, this was the result.


Rather messy.  What I drew was a five point star.  Again, the fabric which came out best was the silk.  I wonder why? Perhaps the fibres absorbed less of the ink in the first place.

The iron came out again and ironed at two spots temperature for about as long as I would expect to press a finished piece.  Nothing nasty happened.

While the iron was out, I decided to give the pencil another try on the cotton fabrics, this time with a thicker line.  I managed to get a very faint line on the finer cotton, but not good enough to work with.

What I can’t check immediately is the effect of time.

So where does this leave me?

– It looks as if the pencil is not much good at all.

The water-erasable pen gives a thicker line than I would like, particularly for smaller areas, and really must be washed out thoroughly with cold water.  So it is not suitable for many projects

– The fade-out pen also gives a the thicker line, and does fade away nicely. However, it is only suitable to be used for something which is going to be completed very quickly. I            have found that in practice, it can fade in an hour or two.

– None of the brands I used caused problems when ironed, but other brands could be different.  All three were well-known brands which I would buy with confidence.

Mary Corbet made another post on, on 2nd. November, entitled ‘Favorite Transfer Methods for Embroidery Designs’. It is well worth reading.


November 5, 2012. Embroidery.

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