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5 ways to draw on fabric

When you want to embroider, you first need to transfer a design on your fabric, to make sure you know where to embroider exactly. How to do so, depends on the type of fabric you are working on, and what colour that fabric has. There are numerous tools to help you do so, and they all have their pros and cons. In this article, I will discuss which tools I use myself, and what their pros and cons are exactly.

Pens with heat erasable ink

When you use pens with heat removable ink, you can draw your pattern directly on your fabric, and remove it again by ironing over it, or by aiming your hair dryer directly at it. Sometimes even direct sunlight is enough to do the trick. Did you go too fast and do you still need to see your design? Just place your work in the freezer. As long as you didn't wash your fabric, your design will reappear.

Frixion pens

Frixion pens by Pilot komen in verschillende kleuren en verschillende diktes, wat heel handig kan zijn afhankelijk van de soort en kleur stof waar je op werkt. Gebruik wel steeds een kleur dat contrasteert met het garen dat je wilt gebruiken. Je ogen zullen je dankbaar zijn.

Pros Frixion pensCons Frixion pens
- You draw directly on your fabric
- You can choose any colour you like
- You can choose any size you like
- Make sure to test this first, to make sure you can indeed use heat to erase this ink from the fabric you are working on
- Even though you can choose any colour you like, they are not that handy to use on dark coloured fabrics


Naast de Frixion-pennen bestaan er ook nog witte warmte-uitwisbare pennen van Bohin, die handig zijn op donkere stof. Afhankelijk van de soort stof waar je op tekent, kan het soms wel een paar seconden tot een minuut duren voor je lijnen goed zichtbaar zijn.

Het woord 'hallo' staat in duidelijke witte letters op een zwarte stof geschreven. De witte hittestift van Bohin waarmee het woord geschreven is, ligt onder het woord Hallo.
Voordelen Bohin-pennenNadelen Bohin-pennen
- You can draw on dark fabric with them– Je moet soms even wachten voor de inkt verschijnt

Pens with water soluble ink

When you use pens with water soluble ink, you can very easily remove your design with some water. Even a few drups are enough. My favourite pens are the blue Bohin markers. Especially when you combine them with a water brush, you can draw whatever you like, and easily correct mistakes when needed.

Pros water soluble inkCons water soluble ink
- Very easy to draw on light coloured fabrics
- A few drops of water are enough to remove your ink, using for example this handy water brush
- Works well with light coloured fabrics, not handy for dark coloured fabrics

Chalk pencils

When you draw an embroidery pattern on your fabric, it's important that you draw fine lines. Otherwise it gets very difficult to know where you should insert your needle. Since you can sharpen a chalk pencil until it has a very sharp point, it also allows you to draw very fine lines. And if you have a white chalk pencil, it also makes it very easy to draw on dark fabrics.

Pros chalk pencilsCons chalk pencils
- Very easy to draw on dark fabrics- You need to wash your fabric to remove the lines

Pens with washable ink

With washable ink I don't mean the water soluble ink that I described before, but washable markers. If you have kids around, or if you like to draw yourself, you probably have some of these lying around. You can use these to draw on fabric as much as you like, and once you've put them through the washing machine, all ink will be gone again. Still, make sure to test this first, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

'Regular' pencils

Usually we all have a simple pencil lying around somewhere as well, and more often than not, you can use this to draw on your fabric as well. Wash your fabric when finished, and all lines will have disappeared.

Pros washable ink and regular pencilsCOns washable ink and regular pencils
- More like it than not, you will have these lying around somewhere- You need to wash your fabric to remove the lines
- Only works on light coloured fabrics


To draw on light coloured fabrics, I prefer to use Frixion pens or water soluble pens. To draw on dark fabrics, a white chalk pencil is my absolute favourite.

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