The easiest way to mark or customize clothing is to use cloth markers or fabric pens. They are quick and easy to apply and are quite affordable when compared to things like heat transfers. Fabric pens can be used to draw, color, or write on most fabrics. After drying completely and maybe being ironed, the color should be able to survive being put through the wash. Fabric markers are also great for kids to use, as you only need a few supplies to get going. Professionals can also make use of permanent fabric markers to create unique designs on t-shirts and other fabrics. There are quite a few fabric marker pen brands, colors, and tip shapes available to suit every need. We will be taking you through all about the best fabric markers, hopefully inspiring you to come up with new and inspiring ideas.

 

 

 

What are Fabric Marker Pens

Fabric painting is a fun and easy way to create designs on t-shirts, pillows, and other fabrics. Painting using fabric marker pens is a way to create even better designs with more detail and fine lines. Fabric pens are easy to use, and there is no mess to clean up afterward. The pen shape provides more control, so you can use various techniques like stencils for more precision work. Fabric pens are great to use if you want to write on fabric.

Since a t-shirt is likely to be washed, the best pens to write on fabric have to be permanent. This is why cloth markers contain a color ink, paint, or dye that should not fade after being placed in the wash. You might have come across a normal marker pen that also says permanent, these are also fade-resistant, however, this type of marker does not come in a variety of colors like the fabric pens.

Permanent fabric markers can be used by anybody and were created to be safely used by those of all ages. The best fabric markers were created for:

  • Children: fabric pens are great to use at school and home
  • Parents: marking of clothing for school, or just having fun with the creative process along with the kids
  • Illustrators: A fine-tipped fabric marker can come in handy for this type of art form
  • New and seasoned artists: anybody who wants to create unique clothing or fabric art pieces

 

 

Different Types of Fabric Paint Pens

You have various types of fabric marker pens available. What you want to do, will determine the type of fabric pen you need. Also, it depends on what kind of fabric you use, as this can play a role in choosing a suitable cloth marker. Some fabric pens can be used on different surfaces like plastic, leather, canvas, amongst others. Permanent fabric markers are needed for fabrics because regular markers tend to bleed into the fabric. These markers also wash off fairly easily once applied. Permanent fabric markers dry properly and will remain fade resistant on the fabric.

Since there are various types of fabric marker pens, we will be looking at a few of the main types you can get. First, let us have a look at the two main types of cloth markers, which can be labeled according to color durability and the tip design. The two main types include the permanent markers and the non-permanent markers.

best fabric markers

 

Permanent Fabric Markers

Permanent fabric markers are what we are going to be dealing with in this article. These are the best pens to write on fabric and contain a place for ink, paint, or dye. Once applied it should then be left to dry, and becomes permanent, and should not fade if washed. If you are looking to design a permanent image on your t-shirt or other fabric items, then a permanent fabric marker is what you need.

 

Non-Permanent Fabric Markers

This is similar to the permanent marker, however, the ink used dries fast once it has been applied and can then easily be removed using a little water and a cloth. This type of marker is great to use when sewing or as a temporary design you wish to remove after you are done.

 

Fabric Pens Tip Style

There are also different types of tip styles, these enable you to draw thicker and finer lines and details. You have the common bullet shape and point tip that helps you to create thinner lines. However, tilting the pen a little can make broader strokes. Make sure the fabric pens have a brush tip, for a smooth application. These can come in thicker or ultra-thin tip varieties, and sometimes the fabric pen has a dual tip that provides both. You also get the rounded tip, and these are excellent for drawing bolder lines and cannot be used for finer details. There is also the tapered or chiseled wide tip that should be able to give you broader lines, as well as create thinner or finer lines.

 

Ink-Based Fabric Pens

These have ink placed inside the pen and are similar to your normal marker, making a mistake with these can be difficult to undo. Ink fabric pens do tend to bleed, so you need to work and control them carefully. When drawing with them, make sure to apply light pressure and do not hold over the same spot for too long, which could produce bleeding into the fabric.

You might need to play around with these to get the feel of how they work. These types of fabric pens not only work on different fabrics but can also work on non-porous surfaces like plastic. When using different types of surfaces, it is a good idea to test out how the pen reacts before deciding to go ahead with the project.

 

Acrylic Paint Based Fabric Pens

These fabric pens produce amazing results, but they can also be difficult to use. You need to get used to pumping and shaking the pen before using it. However, once you have familiarized yourself with how it works, the easier it will become to use. You should then be able to produce a constant flow of paint, which will give you great results. Try to test these fabric pens out on scrap pieces of fabric to see how they handle before moving on to your main project.

 

Gel Fabric Pens

The way you use these fabric pens are similar to the average pen you use to write with. The only difference is the type of ink, which is then suspended in the gel. Easily apply as you would a normal pen and the ink will dry to a permanent color. Since these fabric pens are so easy to use, they are great for those just starting out.

 

white fabric marker

 

 

Selecting Your Fabric Marker Pens

When you are looking to purchase permanent fabric marker pens, depending on what you want to do and who they are for, you will need to consider a few things to make the best choice. Take a look at these recommendations to help make the right choice.

 

Fabric Pens Versatility

We are discussing fabric pens, but if you are going to only use it once on fabric, this could be a waste. Look for the best fabric markers that can be applied to other surfaces like wood, plastic, or canvas. So, even if you only use it once on fabric, you can still use them for other projects.

 

Color and Fabric Pens

Today, there are many options available to you. You can choose a set of fabric pens that offers over 30 colors if this is what you are looking for. Otherwise, you can easily buy a simple set of 12 fabric pens to use. You also want to consider color retention; you do not want colors to start changing after only a few washes.

 

Tips Size and Type

We have already mentioned this, and you can easily purchase a product that has bullet tips or finer tips. Some fabric markers also come in a dual pen, with access to both types on either end of the pen. The dual tip fabric marker pens offer more of a choice in one product.

 

Fabric Pen Quality

You need to purchase a good quality product, otherwise, you might be risking the ink being too runny and bleeding into the fabric. This will leave you with a less than ideal design that has no clear and sharp edges. If the ink is too thick, you will not be able to apply it evenly and it will not be absorbed as it should into the fabric.

 

Fabric Pens and Drying

Here you need to decide if you want fabric pens that air-dry, or if you want pens that need to be set with heat after application. The air-dry option fabric markers need to dry for at least 24 hours before throwing it into the wash. You can set the fabric pens with heat using an iron, and after this, the color should not come off in the wash.

 

Fabric Paint Pens and Bleeding

How to write on fabric without bleeding? You have fabric paint pens that have no-bleeding properties, read the product labels to check. You do not want to pick a fabric pen to only find out later that it bleeds into everything. You also need to read up on a specific pen, as some can be left to air-dry, while others need to be set with heat. However, even if it says air-dry, it might be a good idea to pop it into the dryer to make sure it does not bleed.

 

Non-Toxic Fabric Pens

Before you purchase any permanent fabric markers, check the label to see if it is non-toxic. Many fabric items that have been painted with fabric pens are clothing items. With this in mind, you do not want to risk using the wrong type of fabric pen that comes into contact with the skin. This is especially true when applying a design to baby clothes.

cloth markers

 

 

Best Fabric Markers

The best fabric markers come in a variety of colors and types, so choosing the one that will best suit you can be difficult. So, we have come up with what we think are the top five fabric markers on the market. Read on to discover your best option.

 

Best Fabric Markers Professional: LIQUITEX Professional Paint Fine Marker Set

The Liquitex Marker Set offers professional quality markers that can be used on a variety of surfaces. These are water-based acrylic markers that provide an easy way for you to write on surfaces. One of the main features is the excellent control you have while working, ensuring you have no messy blobs. You can get these markers as a fine tip set or ones with a wide tip, offering about 15 mm line size.

LIQUITEX Professional Paint Fine Marker Set, 6-Pieces
  • Set of six wide nib professional paint markers
  • Water-based, lightfast, and permanent acrylic markers
  • Suitable for use on multiple surfaces
View on Amazon

The tip is easy to clean if it gets dirty and is best used on thicker fabric projects. If you are looking to create straight lines, these cloth markers will do the job much better than a brush and paint. The colors will not fade; therefore, you will produce permanent quality work. The light-fast, durable, bleed-proof, and permanent finish is what many artists are looking for. You can, however, still remove the paint immediately while it is still wet.

PROS

  • Easy to use and control
  • Permanent when dry
  • Lightfast
  • Replacement nibs are available

CONS

  • Could need multiple coats

 

Best Versatile Fabric Markers: MOLOTOW One4All

The Molotow Acrylic Paint Marker Set is a superior quality acrylic-based product. These fabric marker pens are extremely versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces including stone, ceramics, paper, wood, and, of course, fabric. Highly pigmented, so you have a variety of amazing colors. The paint colors are fade-resistant and will remain vibrant over time.

MOLOTOW ONE4ALL Acrylic Paint Marker Set
  • High-covering, premium acrylic-based pigments
  • A clever refillable pump marker system
  • The set includes ten different vibrant colors
View on Amazon

PROS

  • UV and fade resistant
  • Versatile
  • Solvent-free and can be diluted
  • Good coverage
  • An excellent choice for professionals

CONS

  • Expensive

 

Best Fabric Markers for Crafting: SHARPIE-Stained Fabric Markers

The Sharpie Permanent Fabric Markers can be used on most fabric items and come in eight basic colors. The vibrant colors are fade-resistant and do not need to be ironed to set. The markers can be used to create thin as well as thicker lines, creating designs that will last a long time. These fabric paint pens are great for layering colors and are also non-toxic.

SHARPIE Stained Fabric Markers, Brush Tip, 8-Count
  • Thick brush tip markers for bold writing and drawing
  • Each pack includes eight different fabric marker colors
  • Developed to resist fading when being washed
View on Amazon

PROS

  • Fade-resistant and long-lasting
  • Can be applied to any fabric from wool to canvas and muslin
  • Non-toxic and great for kids to use

CONS

  • Not much of a color variety
  • Colors may bleed

 

Best Value for Money Fabric Markers: CRAFTS 4 ALL Fabric Marker Pens

The Crafts 4 All Fabric Marker Pens are a popular choice for many. Non-toxic and great to use by all, also the perfect markers to use on baby clothes. There is a variety of 24 colors available that are highly pigmented offering vibrant colors. These fabric pens can be used in a variety of ways such as on sneakers, handbags, clothing, and much more. You will not have any problems with fading, as these fabric pens are UV resistant and lightfast.

CRAFTS 4 ALL Fabric Marker Permanent Pens, 24 Colors
  • A premium quality set of 24 different fabric pens
  • Super-versatile pens for fine or thick lines
  • Child-safe, non-toxic, fade-proof, lightfast, weatherproof
View on Amazon

PROS

  • Non-toxic and safe for children to use
  • Fade-resistant and machine washable
  • Lightfast
  • Vibrant colors
  • Affordable

CONS

  • If you do not keep the caps on properly, the pens can run dry

 

Best Fabric Markers for Children: CRAYOLA

The Crayola Fabric Marker Pens can be used by everybody from the age of three and up, as they are non-toxic. You can easily draw precision lines and details on both dark and light fabrics with fine tips. You have a choice of 10 vibrant colors to choose from. Once your designs are completed, they will be permanent and should be fade-resistant.

CRAYOLA Fabric Markers for Kids, Fine Tip, Set of 10
  • A set of ten different fine line fabric markers
  • Perfect for colorful, detailed designs on clothes
  • AP certified non-toxic and safe to use
View on Amazon

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Non-toxic
  • Can be used by anybody, young and old
  • Comes off the skin easily

CONS

  • Colors may not be as vibrant as other options available

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Using Fabric Paint Pens

By now, you have a fair idea of what fabric pens are, the best fabric markers available, and how to choose the best markers to use on fabric. The two main benefits of fabric pens are the color quality and how versatile the pens are. Let us now find out a few of the pros and cons of fabric pens.

 

Fabric Paint Pens Pros

  • Perfect for using as outlines and creating finer details
  • You will find most brands to be non-toxic and are safe to use with kids, however, always read the label
  • Many of the cloth markers are fade-resistant and will not fade when washed
  • Fabric pens are affordable, sometimes more so than fabric paints
  • Most fabric marker pens can be used on a variety of fabric types and even different surfaces
  • There are a variety of style fabric pens from fine tips to broader and chiseled tips for different effects and uses
  • Fabric pens dry quickly, and some quality brands can naturally dry, while others might need to be ironed

Fabric Paint Pens Cons

  • Many fabric pens have a short shelf-life, and some can dry up fairly quickly. Make sure to always replace the cap securely when finished with the pen
  • You may find that some cloth markers bleed into the fabric and you will need a pad to help stop this
  • Not really made for larger designs and projects, as it will take some time to complete
  • You are limited to the set of fabric pens that each brand provides

 

 

How to use Fabric Pens

Fabric pens are a great way to bring out your creativity, and not only that, but it is also the perfect opportunity to create some family fun time together. There are many ways to use permanent fabric markers. Create your own personalized t-shirts or style up some of your old clothes. Have a look at a few other ways you can apply fabric pens.

 

Fabric Pens and Stencils

You get cloth markers that have finer tips which are great to use with stencils. You can easily create beautiful designs on fabric, simply follow the outline of the stencils carefully to create precision artwork. Take care that the stencil remains in place and does not move around. You can also color using a stencil design, keep it in place as this will help you to keep it even versus trying to color without a stencil.

 

Applying Calligraphy Designs

You can easily create amazing lettering, as you have excellent control over the fabric pen and the handwriting should come out neat. The final design does not have to be perfect; any small mistakes will only add more charm to the final piece. It is best to use darker color fabric pens on lighter fabric to make the lettering stand out more. A white fabric marker and metallic or lighter fabric pens can be used on darker materials.

 

Adding Details

Some designs require much finer details and using a fine brush just might not be as good as a fine-tipped fabric pen. Fabric pens provide more control over your work, so you will be able to produce more accurate work.

 

Using Rubber Stamps

Instead of using paint to wet stamps, which could land up making quite a mess, rather use a fabric pen. Take your stamp and color it in using fabric marker pens, then stamp your design onto the fabric. Just make sure not to wait too long to use the stamp, as the ink can dry pretty fast.

 

Choosing the Proper Fabric

The easiest fabric grain to work with is a finer and smoother grain, as there are rough spots over a coarse grain fabric. If you do not know what type of fabric you have, you can always test it out first before moving on to your design. When working, try not to pause for too long over a certain area, as this could cause bleeding into the fabric. Rather, stop and lift the fabric pen off until you know what you want to do next.

permanent fabric markers

 

 

How to Look After Your Fabric Pens

Like with everything, you need to take care of your fabric marker pens so that they can last longer. Here are a few ideas you can use so that you can keep the quality of your fabric pens and keep on creating beautiful design pieces.

  • Always store fabric pens in a dry, cool, and dark place
  • Keep the fabric marker pens flat or horizontal to help with preventing the ink from drying
  • Always keep the caps tightly closed
  • When using your fabric pen, shake it beforehand to make sure the ink is activated and ready to use, especially after being stored for a long time
  • To prevent any bleeding into the fabric, use a pad between the fabric
  • The fabric you are using should be washed and completely dry, as the wet fabric could damage the tip
  • Allow the ink to dry properly on the fabric and check to see if it is an air-dry ink or if you need to apply heat to set it

 

 

Can you Revive Dry Fabric Marker Pens?

Yes, fabric pens can be revived. The non-permanent type of markers can be soaked in warm water; however, the permanent fabric markers require rubbing alcohol. Take the cap off the marker and place the tip into the container that has the rubbing alcohol. Keep it submerged until you notice some color coming off. The rubbing alcohol will activate the fabric pen tip. Keep the tip in the alcohol for about five minutes and then remove and dry off using a tissue or rag. Take the fabric pen, and then test it out on a piece of fabric. You can use it immediately if you are working on a project. Remember to tightly close the cap before storing the pen and placing it flat or horizontally while in storage. Otherwise, after soaking in the alcohol, replace the cap and leave the pen standing up for about 24 hours or 48 hours before using it.

This is only a quick solution and does not make the fabric pen-like new. The color quality will not be the best, and you might see it fading faster. Another method is to use alcohol or acetone and inject a small amount directly into the tip of the fabric pen.

 

 

How to use Cloth Markers on a T-Shirt

So, now you have your fabric marker pens and now you want to create a fabric t-shirt design. First, let us have a look at the basic items you will need:

  • T-shirt
  • Masking tape
  • Iron
  • Stencils (optional)
  • Newspaper or cardboard
  • Fabric pens

 

Your first step is to prepare your fabric by washing it and letting it dry thoroughly. If you want, you can test out the fabric pens on another piece of fabric to see how it acts before moving on to your design. Place the fabric onto a surface that is flat, with the area you want to paint, facing you. You can place the cardboard or newspaper in-between the t-shirt fabric to help prevent any bleeding through to the other side of the t-shirt. You can create your design by doing either of the following:

  • Print out a design to trace onto the t-shirt
  • Use a stencil
  • Create a freehand design

 

You can then place the masking tape around the edges of the t-shirt to help keep everything in place. You can now use your fabric pens to create your design. To make sure the paint dries properly, leave the t-shirt for around five days. Remove the masking tape. If you need to set the paint, you can then use an iron for a few seconds over the design. Preferably press the iron onto the inside of your t-shirt design. You can also use freezer paper in-between the iron and fabric, moving the iron around for a few minutes. You can also place it in a warm dryer for 30 minutes. Remember to set the iron according to the type of fabric being used. Wash in a cool rinse and allow to dry.

Note: Use a white fabric marker or metallic markers for darker color t-shirts.

fabric marker pens

 

 

Washing Clothes with Fabric Markers

Permanent fabric markers should be fade resistant and hold colors for a long time. Even though you can use a washing machine or hand wash fabrics that have been painted using fabric pens, there are a few things you can do to improve the washing process. First, once you have painted and let it dry, leave for at least another 72 hours before you wash it. While the paint is drying, you should make sure to leave everything and not touch anything. This will ensure all the lines and details remain as you want them. Here are some more tips when washing your fabric:

  • Turn your t-shirt inside out
  • Place into a gentle wash
  • Use mild detergent
  • When washing, use cold to warm water. (The first few washes can be cold)

 

 

Removing Permanent Fabric Markers

When using fabric pens, there might be an occasion when you accidentally mess some of the colors onto your skin or onto the clothes you are wearing. The easiest step is to remove the paint immediately. However, you can sometimes be so involved in the creative process, you only notice marks later. Let us now look at a few ways you can remove permanent fabric markers from your skin and clothes.

 

Removing Permanent Fabric Markers From the Skin

When using fabric pens, it is more than likely you will get some on your skin. Not to worry, there are some easy and safe methods to remove it from your skin. You might need to use some of the methods a few times before the marks come off completely. Also, makes sure that you are not allergic to anything applied to your skin. Your first method is to use some rubbing alcohol. Use some cotton wool and dip it into the alcohol, then place it onto the area where the paint is located. Hold for a few seconds and then wipe off. You can also apply some nail polish remover or acetone. Follow the same steps as for the rubbing alcohol and wipe off.

More methods to help remove fabric markers from the skin:

  • Use a little olive, coconut oil, or miner oil
  • Salt or sugar scrub
  • Apply some whitening toothpaste

 

Removing Permanent Fabric Markers From Clothes

When it comes to kids and some adults, they can be a bit messy and can inadvertently get a marker stain on their clothes. The best thing to do in this situation is to again make sure you remove the paint immediately. Here are one or two methods for removing these marker stains.

 

Rubbing Alcohol

Lay some paper towels down and position the fabric stain face down onto the towels. Take a sponge and dip into the rubbing alcohol, then dab the sponge around the stain. Dab some more straight onto the stain. The ink should start to come off onto the paper towels. Once the stain has come off, wash the fabric item. You can also use hairspray, which must contain a high amount of alcohol for it to be effective. You will then follow a similar process as with the rubbing alcohol. Spray and soak a cotton ball with the hairspray and apply to the stain.

 

Applying Milk

This is an easy and safe method for removing fabric marker stains. Fill a bowl with some milk and place the fabric item into the bowl, making sure the stain is covered. Allow this to soak overnight and repeat the process until you see the stain is lifting off. Once done, wash your fabric item.

fabric paint pens

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Do Fabric Pens Last Long?

When using fabric pens, it will depend on the brand for how long it lasts. You can get some fabric markers that last up to ten hours. This is governed by the quality of the nibs.

 

Can you use Fabric paint Pens on Baby Clothes?

As long as they are labeled non-toxic, they should be safe to use on baby clothes.

 

Does it Take Long for Fabric Pens to dry?

You should leave fabric pens to dry for at least 24 hours, however, 48 hours is recommended. You should read the manufacturer’s directions for more accurate drying times.

 

Can Fabric Markers be Removed by Washing?

Permanent fabric markers should not wash out, as they become permanent and set into the fabric. However, if you act immediately, you can get stains or marks out of the fabric by using rubbing alcohol. Even this can sometimes not work completely.

 

Is it Possible to use Fabric Pens on Paper?

Yes, however, the paper absorbs a lot more of the ink and will use up the fabric pen faster. The best fabric markers are usually quite expensive, so you might want to keep these for more specific projects.

 

How can I Increase the Durability of my Fabric Design?

Once the design has been applied, allow it to dry and then set it with heat using an iron of a clothes dryer. Iron the design for a few minutes or use the low to medium setting on the dryer for 30 minutes. Once this is done leave the fabric and design for a further 24 to 72 hours before washing. For the first one or two washes, stick to a cold wash.

 

Are Fabric Pens Toxic?

Always read the product label, which should state that the fabric pen is non-toxic. Some even state that they are certified and can be safely used by children.

 

Is There a Difference Between a Fabric Paint Pens and a Sharpie?

Yes, there are a few differences.

Fabric Pens Sharpie
Can be washed as it is a permanent fabric marker May fade if washed regularly
Glides easily over fabrics May jerk or skip over areas
Fabric pens should have non-bleed properties Tends to bleed through the fabric

 

How to Write on Fabric Without Bleeding?

Fabric paint pens are meant to be used on fabrics and should not bleed in the wash. However, while writing, you can place a piece of cardboard or newspaper behind the design while you work. Try not to press too hard and stay too long in one place.

 

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