Thursday, March 25, 2010

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming

To talk about blue wash out markers! I had several emails before 10 am this morning about blue wash out markers. I talked about blue wash out markers here, but we will revisit the topic.

I use the Clover Water Soluble Marker-Fine Point. I am able to find them at my local Hancock's Fabrics, in the QUILTING section. I have also found them online at I am not affiliated with either, yadda yadda.

Yes I DO press over it, often multiple times with a hot iron and steam. I have not had any problem with the blue marker not coming out. This has been MY experience. A few things to keep in mind.
  • You can't leave the blue markings on a project for multiple YEARS, and expect it not to have reacted with the fabric. If you are putting a project away to return to after your grandchildren are grown, wash out the marks first. If you are going to work on it in the coming weeks/months, you should be fine.
  • I rinse my project THOROUGHLY before any soap touches it. The way I describe this to people is; rinse, rinse, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. When you are sure it is rinsed well......rinse it again. 

  • Then I wash the project. I often use Delicare to wash my projects in the bathroom sink. Smells great and I like the fact that it is pink. I have simple needs. It is available at my local grocery store or online.
  • NEVER use Oxi-Clean, per Gail Doane's instructions. Her experience has been that Oxi-Clean will set the marker and turn it brown.
Why don't I use pencil? Pencil is evil. Pure and simple. I used pencil on this christening gown, shown in this post.  After I spent over 100 hours embroidering this gown, I spent a WEEK trying to get the pencil out. I was sick over it.

Did I prepare my fabric you ask? Yes I did. I pressed and starched my fabric multiple times to lay down a protective layer of starch over the fabric. I used a very light touch when tracing my complex design. That has been the conventional wisdom in the past. It did not work. When you stitch a MULTI-layered, padded satin stitch monogram over pencil, it is NEVER coming out! Thankfully, the baby's mother didn't notice it. Of course, I can see it a mile away. And let it get wet! It might as well be a billboard.

So blue marker it is. The only glitch I have had using a blue marker is tracing an embroidery design through the printed pattern paper. I was too heavy handed with the tracing and allowed too much ink from the blue pen to saturate the pattern. It transferred the ink from the pattern to my fabric underneath. Luckily, I was able to cover it with the embroidery and no one was the wiser. My advice is to trace your design either onto tracing paper or lightweight interfacing first or to place your pattern UNDER your fabric to trace directly onto the fabric from the pattern.

And as always, you do not need to take my word for gospel. This is what works for me. If in doubt, test the product in your own home, with your own tap water and your own iron. That is the only way to know for sure and put your mind at ease.

So that is my take on using a blue wash out marker. I love getting questions because it means you are reading and wanting to learn and try for yourself. So keep those questions coming.

We now return to thinking of spring.


  1. well amen and let me say again, amen!!! for years I have thought there was something wrong with me and my methods because i was not an advocate of the beloved pencil!!! That has been my experince just about every time. I did not know about Delicare however. i will get some of that. another thing that will also turn the blue marker brown is Biz. thank you so much for this tutorial!!!

  2. Martha....I, too, have had a bad experience with pencil. It was my first heirloom dress and some of the pencil marks are still present. It broke my heart. However, I've also had two bad experiences with the blue marker...even though that is what I still continue to use the most. One time I traced off an heirloom pattern with lots of tucks using a pencil. Then I placed the fabric on top of the pencil-traced pattern and using a blue marker I copied the tuck lines. Unfortunately the blue marker picked up the pencil and transferred it to the underside of my fabric....gray marks on my white fabric. It never came out...I just had to start over. Another time I used it on corduroy and it would not come out. So I filled up the sink and soaked it. All that happened was the blue ink migrated to another spot on the corduroy jumper. But I have stored these as learning experiences and I still use the blue marker quite a bit. Thanks for sharing your experiences too!!!

  3. I love the blue marker. I use it all the time. I've never used pencil, and after reading your post, I sure am glad!!!

  4. Hey Martha, good information. I couldn't sew with out my blue marker!

    Problem with a pencil is: doesn't matter if you starch the fabric before tracing with a pencil. Once you stitch through the pencil, the floss picks up the lead and drags it along with the needle everywhere and it stays in the floss! I know some people use them. They must live a better life than me.

  5. Cannot find Delicare here.. :( I guess people on the left coast do not hand wash? Need to add it to my list of contraband I have shipped to me from MS.

  6. I am walking down the middle of the road, since I believe there is a place for both blue markers and pencils! I have probably had more problems with blue markers than pencils, but I have observed the exact opposite for others. That's the joy of sewing -- do what works best for each of us!
    We may have to make you our personal shopper for Delicare!

  7. I can't say I've had any really bad incidents with the pencil, but I always choose to use the blue marker. Like you, I have ironed multiple times over the blue marker and never had a problem with brown spots - I guess I have more of a problem of the blue marker returning after rinsing, which means I am not rinsing enough, so that's my problem, not the markers. Thanks for posting all the info - I will have to see if I can find this Delicare product!

  8. I also have had bad experiences with pencils and use markers only now too. I prefer the blue one also. Thanks for the tip on Delicare. I'm going to look for some of that here!

  9. The method I use was shown to my 40 years ago by my grand mother. Tailor's tacks. Using a long enough section of thread it is less likely to pull out and no worries there is anything remaining on the fabric even years later. With this method the markings on the fabric are exactly where they are on the pattern.


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