More On FriXion Pens

Quilting the herringbone baby quilt

Thank you all for the great discussion on my post about FriXion pens! It’s been so interesting hearing all of your stories and comments. And after all the discussion, plus some conversation about it at a guild meeting, I think there are a few variables that are worth further examination:

1. Whether the FriXion pen is ballpoint or felt-tip. Apparently there are many different types of FriXion pens (I didn’t know that when I wrote the original post!). They come in both ballpoint
and extra-fine felt-tip varieties. Someone at my guild thinks the felt-tip ink comes out much better than the ballpoint ink. My pen is a ballpoint, so that could explain why mine didn’t iron out. Since the felt-tip pens are finer, that probably does make marking more difficult. But it could even be the reason the felt-tips are more removable—maybe it’s not necessarily the type of pen, but how fine the line is? Hard to say. There are also highlighters and markers, and they’re probably all worth trying. One commenter said the highlighters removed very well for her also.

2. Length of time the marks are ironed. I found SoozeM’s comment on the last post interesting. In her situation, she actually WANTED to be able to iron her project without the marks disappearing. So she ironed it, allowing the marks to disappear, and then froze her project to bring them back. But they didn’t return! Figures, right? : ) She was ironing stabilizer onto her marked project, which means her iron made a lot more contact with the marks. So maybe that’s the key to getting marks to iron out? Iron the project for much longer than you normally would—maybe as long as you would for fusible webbing or stabilizer?

3. Ironing with steam or without. Many people thought ironing without steam would make a difference—it seems that people who use a dry iron have better results. This one doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, since we know both heat and water can remove the marks, and of course steam is just a combination of the two! But either way, I should have thought to iron part of my quilt with steam and part of it without. Oh well. Next time.

4. Whether the fabric is pre-washed. Many commenters speculated that pre-washing the fabric may effect results. It does seem possible that the pens are interacting with the sizing or other chemicals that manufacturers put on the fabric. Or perhaps use of starch could make a difference. I never pre-wash my fabric (and don’t plan to start), and I almost never use starch. What about the rest of you? Do you pre-wash, and if so, what was your experience with FriXion pens? What about starch?

I think there will have to be another FriXion test in my future. I’m going to pick up the felt-tip version and see what happens with that. I’ll also be sure to iron both with steam and without, to see if there’s a difference there. I don’t plan to test out pre-washed fabric versus unwashed, since I have no desire to start pre-washing my fabric, but if anyone else out there wants to give that one a go, I’d love to hear the results!

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on the discussion. These pens would be the best marking tool ever if they worked well and consistently. Maybe among all of us, we can figure out how to make that happen!


12 replies
  1. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    Thanks for the posts on the Frixion pens! It's interesting to hear other people's experiences. I've mostly had good experiences with the pens but did find marks stayed on the fabric when I was using them on a dark green fabric (Kona cotton) then they turned white (while using a black pen). Odd!

  2. lattegirl40
    lattegirl40 says:

    I never prewash my fabric, I don't use starch very often, I do use a dry iron set on highest heat, and use the black ball point FriXion and have never had an issue. It always disappears, now I have never frozen a quilt to see if it comes back, never knew | needed too!! The conversation has given me pause to think about how I should use the pen though. I have been righting the row and column number on the blocks to keep them straight when sewing. I guess I will be doing that on the back of the blocks from now on!! lol

  3. FlourishingPalms
    FlourishingPalms says:

    Really excellent info, Lee! I've been using Frixion pens, purchased at Target, since they first came out. I've never had a bit of problem with them, but then I'm a pre-washer – always will be. (Don't even ASK me about the time I didn't prewash and what happened when red dye traveled through my finished quilt!) I'm hoping, hoping I don't have any problems with Frixion reappearing as I've thoroughly marked up, with orange and pink ink colors, a Kona white background quilt that I'm custom FMQing. Ugh… can't even THINK about how devastated I'll be if those colors reappear. I see machine washing in this quilt's future, even if the quilt is intended as a show entry.

  4. Anne
    Anne says:

    Lee, I'm so glad you posted about this and are continuing the exploration. I have never used this product but am always looking for a new way to mark my quilts so all this information will be quite handy. Thanks.

  5. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    I have a black FriXion pen but after reading your posts (and Angela and Melissa's posts, too) I've decided I'm only going to use it on the seam allowance or on the wrong side of fabric. The inconsistencies are troubling and I work too hard on quilts to worry about marks coming back! Thanks so much for looking into this for us!


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