Whatever it is that you sew, from time to time you will need to make measurements or markings on your fabric, but you almost certainly don’t want them to stay there once you are finished sewing! I have used a whole range of different tools for this job, and I have a selection to share with you today.
A common and simple option is some form of chalk pencil. These can be rubbed out and removed by using the little plastic ‘comb’ on the back of the pencil.
They come in a few different colours- I have white for marking on dark colours, and blue for lights. The advantage of these is that it is just like writing with a pencil. You can keep it sharp, it doesn’t stain, and doesn’t rub off too quickly either. The disadvantage is that the marking line may not be as clear as you might like when sewing. You can also use a tailors chalk triangle in a very similar way.
Another similar option is a powder chalk or Chaco liner. Again, I keep a couple of colours to make marking on a variety of fabrics and colours easy.
These have a little metal ‘wheel’ instead of a nib which transfers a small amount of the powdered chalk as you draw with it. It can be easier to use than a pencil because the wheel helps the liner to move over the surface of the fabric without bunching and pulling it. Again, the chalk line can be brushed off when you are finished. I have found that sometimes the line does need to be transferred a couple of times because sometimes sections get skipped which might mean a less accurate marking. You can buy chalk refills for these in loads of colours though!
Next up, is the water erasable pen. This does tend to be my tool of choice. It is easy to use and the marking is nicely pigmented and long-lasting while you are using it.
Then, when you are finished you just wash it out. I know that some people will use these pens with caution on pale coloured fabrics in case they stain, but I have never had any issues with trying to get the colour back out when I am done.
The final option is an air erasable pen. This has many of the same properties as a water-erasable pen, but it removes itself over time with contact with the air.
I don’t use mine all that often because the colour does tend to fade quite quickly, meaning that if you mark you fabric one day, and then come to sew another, the markings will all be gone! It can be useful though if you just need a short term mark, when aligning buttonholes for example at the end of a project.
Hopefully it is helpful to see what the markings from these tools actually look like. What is your preferred method of marking onto fabric?