Marker pens can be used to add detail, highlight features or add intricate detail that can’t be achieved via embroidery (eg on a thick pile fabric) to your creations. Even if you don’t have a obvious design that needs to be drawn, markers can be used behind eyes to make them stand out or for other body details. However, not all pens are created equal – some are more suitable to certain applications than others, and some are just a no-go area all together. Here I’ll take you though the various types of pen I’ve used and my results of each.
Dark colours on light fabric
While there’s a good chance you have a sharpie or similar laying around at home, they’re not a good choice for application to fabric. These pens are oil based and long after the ink has dried you’ll find that the colour continues to smudge across the fabric. I’ve nearly ruined a few pieces this way before I realised what the problem is. The blue is the worst for it but the rest of the colours including black will continue to smudge. I’ve also tried supermarket own brand permanent markers that are a little less smudgy but still aren’t great for use on fabric.
Expensive, but one of your best bets for using markers on fabric. The colours are bold and stay fast. They wont smudge after drying. If you iron the fabric after application, the ink is very wash-resistant (only try this on cotton or general clothes fabrics. You’re likely to melt faux fur or other long pile fabric if you try to iron it). There is also a copic airbrush kit if you’re looking to create gradients in your designs.
Letraset Tria Markers
These markers are designed for graphic/interior design on paper but they also do well on fabric for small designs. I’ve found colouring in a large area of minky isn’t too even though, but if you happen to have some already they’re fine to use on fabric.
Light colours on dark fabric
I will occasionally use a dot of acrylic paint on dark minky to add an eye highlight, but when I had to do a larger design I needed something with a little more precision than a paint brush.
Pebeo SetaScrib+ Opaque
This is the only opaque fabric marker I could find in the UK, the other brands needed importing from the US (but I’m sure are just as good). Make sure that the fabric marker is specified as “opaque”, normal fabric markers wont show up the colour you want on darker fabrics. You can see from the image to the right how the Pebeo SetaScrip+ applies to 3mm pile minky. Not too gunky if you’re careful and you can definitely see the colour on very dark fabric. I got this one from Amazon.co.uk.