Thursday, January 28, 2016

Frixion Pens

Progress is continuing on quilting my UFO and I hope to have it finished before the end of the month. YAH!
grid machine quilting
I ditched the painters tape since I was stitching too fast and sewed the tape to the quilt a couple of times! I then decided to mark all the lines with the Frixion pens.
I received quite a few comments and emails about the concerns regarding the use of these pens. There seem to be horror stories that have become part of quilting folklore about quilts that were ruined by these pens. It's an interesting dilemma for quilters since almost every quilt store has a display of these pens by their cash registers.

What are the concerns about Frixion pens?

1) they leave a white (ghost) mark on the fabric:

No marks 
If I'm machine quilting on a line, and covering the line with thread, it doesn't matter if there is a white line under that thread. I am also hand quilting a large quilt right now and am using frixion pens to mark the quilting design. I accidentally picked up a real ink pen to mark one block. That matters because it is definitely not going to come out! I'm not worried because it's a quilt for my family's use, not a masterpiece or an heirloom quilt. 

2) marks will reappear in the cold:

hot iron to remove pen lines
It is definitely cold here in the winter, so the marks may reappear if I take the quilt to keep warm at the Santa Clause parade. I'm okay with the cold reappearance since the marks will again disappear with heat applied (either a hot iron or a tumble in the drier).

Many quilters have written reviews about Frixion pens over the years : Lee at Freshly PiecedLori's blog Humble Quilts posted results of her pen testing part one here and part two here, and the Connecting Threads blog has an interesting article here

In summary... 
Frixion pen
I've been using Frixion for a few years and haven't yet had a problem with the pens or the marks.  However, if I ever get it in my head to make an heirloom quilt that might be submitted to a fancy quilt show, I might not use the frixion pens. But for the majority of my quilts that are going to be used on beds in warm houses and washed until they fall apart, I think it'll be fine to use Frixion.


  1. I am so with you. I like your way of thinking. I feel that if you do an heirloom you treat it like that and prepare differently to the everyday work. I have used them a lot and love them. They make everything so much easier...

  2. I'm not sure there is a safe way to mark a quilt. I've even had issues with quilters chalk staying in the quilt after being wash several times. The frixion pens scare me even though many have had great success using them.

  3. I use the cheap disposable Papermate Sharpwriter mechanical pencils that Sue Garman recommended on her blog. She even uses them on her heirloom show quilts. You do need to wash the quilt when finished but that doesn't upset me since like you I make quilts to be used and loved. I can get a box of ten at the office supply for what one frixion pen would cost and I don't have to worry about marks reappearing!

  4. I use the Frixion pens and love them. My husband and I actually did a little test. We marked a piece of fabric, used the iron to remove the mark, then put the fabric into the freezer. It re-appeared faintly. All I can say is, none of my quilts have ever been that cold!, so I'm ok with that.

  5. I'm afraid I still wouldn't use the Frixion - mainly because I am happy with the blue wash out pens that have horror stories about them but of which I have used for 20 years with no problems. I think we all just need to use what works for us. Because I sometimes sell a quilt and I don't know if I will in advance - I decide after quilts are made what will be sold, I would be afraid a person would be horrified to see the white lines appear and not have a clue what to do about it as it might be years after they have bought it and might not have any idea what do about it. If you put some info on a label about it it might turn them off from buying it to begin with. I read an article from Frixon once about the pen and they said distinctly that they never made them for fabric and would not guarantee anything about it for that purpose.

  6. Excellent write up on our concerns and your reasoning for using them. I agree that those quilts that will be loved to death not as important as those that might be judged or heirloom. I don't think our quilts are going to last 100 years like the ones we are seeing today but I will try to give mine a fighting chance by not using any more chemicals(pens,basting sprays) than needed. You have to do what works best for each quilter. We all have ideas and that's what makes it all so interesting!!

  7. How intereseting that you were left with white lines. Unfortauntely I marked a 8" circle round each the embroideries I was doing for my Mums quilt. intending to applique them down. When I changed my mind and tried to iron off the circles, a pale lilac circle remains, on every block. against a cream background it shows and I am very sad about it. Now I only use the pens where any possible remaining marks will not show.

  8. I totally agree. I have been using those pens for years and honesty, I have NEVER had any of those issues. But you make some great points, in case I ever do.

  9. My Mom used to mark all of her quilting lines faintly with a very sharp pencil. That was just how it was done. I've never used the Frixion pens, but my biggest marking nightmare was with a Fons and Porter yellow marking pencil that has STILL not come out, after several years.

  10. Kathy, recently I attended a workshop through one of my guilds and it was about dyeing fabrics. BUT I learned a new to me idea of using the crayola washable fine line markers to draw your quilt designs before quilting and they would totally wash out afterwards. With a caution told too not to use the yellow/orange ones, they may leave a residue of color after washing. Since you're trying out these different marking techniques, I thought I'd mention it but as with anything try it out on something not important first. For marking straight lines, I love using the Hera marker. It is perfect for marking as it creases the top I've found and no marks are left since it just leaves a crease in the fabric to follow.
    Living in the cold as I do, those Frixion markers are ones I avoid. Good luck.

  11. Great post. I got a quilting kit with my Huskaverna machine and one of the tools was a bar that you can set the length. Once you sew one straight line on the quilt, rest the bar on that line and you will get nice straight lines. I have yet to use it though... hehehe...maybe I'll give it a shot on the next quilt =)

  12. Cindy tested the pens by marking a piece of fabric, ironing it and putting it in the freezer and the mark did not reappear. I have heard they will leave a light mark on batiks but that corrects when you wash them. I love fixion pens.

  13. Thanks for this article. I haven't used these pens very much but will be using them in the future.

  14. I guess it comes down to what works for you. Thanks for the info on the pens.