Can You Use A Pencil To Mark Fabric?

Leaving a mark is a standard way to track what you're working with. However, when working with fabrics, you might be hesitant to pick up a pencil to mark what you need. After all, what if something goes wrong? If that's your concern, let's go over the details!

Yes, you can use a pencil to mark the fabric. However, it's not the best tool for the situation. In some cases, you might find it difficult to remove the pencil markings. If you want to remove the markings later, it would be best to use a lightweight, water-soluble pencil. 

Sometimes you can't go out and purchase a marking utensil right away. So, it'd make sense to use the next best thing, a pencil. If you want to wash it off later, you might want to know how to do it. Afterward, you can prepare for the next project. We cover these concerns further ahead.

A stockpile of spare leather and fabric, Can You Use A Pencil To Mark Fabric?

Using a Pencil to Mark Fabric

Before using a pencil as a marking tool, you might want to know the downsides of using one. Luckily, there are other many others with the same concerns. As many people suggest, it's doable. 

However, there's a mix of positive and negative experiences. Some have found that it was too difficult to remove the markings afterward. Thus, they'd advise against using a pencil. 

Woman holding a pencil on white background

Others have a more patient approach. Even if the first few initial washings didn't remove the pencil markings, it eventually washes out. Otherwise, you can use OxiClean to help remove it. 

What Type of Pencil Can You Use?

The type of pencil you use also affects your success using one. #2 pencils seem to leave a heavy mark. So, even if you try to wash it off, it can make the markings much worse.

As one user warns, the markings could set into the fabric. So, it's going to stay there for a while. Therefore, you'll want to use a pencil with hard lead. Mechanical pencils appear to be the go-to choice. 

Standard #2 pencils are problematic because they contain a softer lead tip. Thus, it makes marking easier. But, the cleanup is a toss-up.

It can give you trouble when you attempt to remove the markings, or it can go smoothly. The type of fabric you're working with can also be a deciding factor.

How Do You Get Pencil Off of Fabric Without Washing?

A pencil eraser used in removing markings

If you decide to use a pencil as a marking tool, learning to remove the marks is another crucial step. Sometimes we have to work within time constraints. So, trying to wash the markings out is out of the equation. 

That leaves us without the primary method. Fortunately, there are alternative ways to get rid of the markings without washing. All you need is an eraser. 

A fabric shop making designer outfits

Once you're ready to remove the markings, treat it as if it was on paper. Just rub it over the area. However, if you want to avoid having the eraser shavings embedded into the threads, use a make-up brush for cleanup.

You can use any eraser to do this. However, some might not work as well as others. One brand of eraser that quilters recommend is the Dritz fabric eraser. 

Click here to see this eraser on Amazon.

Avoiding Hard-to-Remove Stains

Regardless, use an eraser on the markings gently. This way, you can avoid distorting the fabric and ripping out any stitching. If you want to make the markings easier to remove, there are two things you can do.

The first would be to go easy on the pressure you use. Thus, you won't leave markings that are difficult to remove. It should look light enough that it can almost disappear at a distance. 

Secondly, you can do a test trial on another piece of the same fabric. Use a pencil to make a mark. Then, use an eraser to remove it. If it's giving you trouble, it would be best to avoid using the pencil.

How Can You Remove Pencil Marks Off of Quilts?

If you don't want to use an eraser, you can also resort to washing the fabric. Though, you will need the help of some type of cleaning solution. Some users recommend using a mix of 1-part clear liquid dishwashing detergent, 1-part rubbing alcohol and 2-parts water.

Mix them in a spray bottle if you'd like. Then, spray it on a cotton pad and dab it on the area with the markings. If that doesn't work, you can consider using OxiClean. 

In some cases, the markings from a pencil can be stubborn. In the worst situation, you might need to purchase a stain remover. Zep stain remover is one option users recommend. 

Click here to see this stain remover on Amazon.

What Can You Use To Mark Fabric?

As we can see, a pencil doesn't seem to be the ideal marking utensil. A lot of people have success using it. But, the main concern is removing it. Some quilters don't have much success cleaning the markings. 

Up close photo of a sewing machine

So, if you want to save yourself the hassle, it would be better to purchase a marking-specific tool. Let's go over some that you can consider. 

Ink Pens

Ink pen spilled on a canvas

What leaves a visible mark better than a pencil? That would be a pen! But, since you'll want to remove it later, it needs to be water-soluble. 

Thus, that's where water-soluble ink pens come into the equation. An ink pen can offer precise lines. And, if you need to make circles or small dots, it can do that easily too!

The best part? All you need to remove the markings is a small amount of water, an iron, or let time do it for you. However, like all things, it does have a few downsides. 

Ink pens can dry up too quickly, bleed or spread, and their marks might even reappear after removal. 

Tailor's Chalk

A tailor using a measuring tape and chalk for his markings

This marking tool is one you might've seen in a tailor shop. It even has "tailor" in its name. Yes, it's the tailor's chalk! 

It's a type of specialty chalk for making temporary markings on fabrics. A tailor's chalk works well for marking thick or textured fabrics. Regarding removal, you can brush it away or let it fade away. 

You won't have trouble at all removing the markings. Though, that comes as a disadvantage too. It can brush or fade away too easily. So, if you need the markings to stay a bit longer, this utensil might not be worth it to you. 

Apart from that, you'll need to sharpen it regularly. But, in the process, it can break or crumble. These are minor details. It's up to you if they're dealbreakers. 


Soap and soap bubbles

If you don't want to go out of your way to purchase a utensil, you can get a little creative. What about bar soap? It sounds surprising. But, some people have success with it. 

All you need to do is sharpen the edge with a paring knife. It's readily available and easily glides over any fabric. When you want to remove the markings, wash the fabric. 

The only limiting factor here is a lack of color choice and uneven smidges.

Chaco Liner Pen

The tailor's chalk has a few downsides that are heavy dealbreakers. It isn't the most accurate for drawing lines. In addition, it crumbles easily.

Fortunately, there is a marking tool that works similarly. But, it lacks the downsides of a typical tailor's chalk. It goes by the name of Chaco liner pen. 

It's basically a tailor's chalk with a reliable handle. People prefer it over the tailor's chalk as it is more precise, allowing for sharp, even lines. 

Still, it can brush off easily. One way to avoid removing markings too early is by running a finger over the chalk immediately after. It helps the chalk settle into the fabric. 

This way, it can stay for longer. The only disadvantage of using a Chaco liner pen is refills. It can get costly to refill the chalk once it runs out.

How Do You Draw On Fabric Without Bleeding?

The problem with certain marking utensils is bleeding. Sometimes the ink will make its way into other areas. So, how can we stop it? 

One way you stop the ink bleeding is by setting a barrier. Aloe vera gel works well enough for this job. All you need to do is use it for the outline. Then, use your ink pen to mark within the aloe vera gel borders. 

Once you no longer need the aloe vera barrier, you can wash it off. Here's a YouTube video demonstrating how the aloe vera works:

Otherwise, you will need to use a fine marker. In addition, fabrics with a tighter weave will have less trouble with ink bleeding.

In Closing

A stockpile of spare leather and fabric

It's always better to double-check on something before doing it. As we've found out, it's possible to use a pencil to mark the fabric. However, the removal process can get tricky. Will that stop you from using a pencil? In any case, we hope you found the information above helpful! 

Before you go, do you have other fabric concerns? Do you want to use tacky glue? To find out if it works on fabric, check out:

Does Tacky Glue Work On Fabric?

Are you interested in looking for better quilting fabric? We can give you some ideas! For more information, check out:

5 Best Quality Quilting Fabrics

Leave a Reply