Water-soluble marking pens are made specifically to pre-mark an embroidery design on fabric. These pens create a temporary line that can be removed after completing the embroidery by giving the item a soak in mild detergent. Some stitchers love them, while others won’t touch them due to bad experiences.
Water-soluble fabric marking pens and wash-away markers (not iron-on pens or pencils) can be quite safe, and create a temporary mark. But, the successful use of these pens will depend on three important things: the brand of the pen you are using, the fiber content of both the embroidery fabric and thread, and thoroughly washing the item after stitching to remove the ink. The third item – washing after stitching – is where many people give up on the pens and toss them in the trash bin. This is also the cause of their seemingly bad reputation.
The term “washable” is the key to using a water soluble marking pen successfully in a project. The ink must be thoroughly removed from the fabric by soaking or thoroughly rinsing the item in room temperature water. The emphasis here is on thoroughly!
Because the ink must be actually removed and not just rinsed or dabbed until it disappears to the naked eye, fiber content plays and important role in your decision to use a disappearing ink, water soluble fabric marking pen. Use the same rule of thumb you would use for garments – if the embroidery threads or fabric must be dry-cleaned or shoud not be washed, do not use washable ink.
When you are ready to remove the markings, remember that holding the fabric uder running water for a quick rinsing, dabbing the fabric with water, or wetting the piece down with a spray bottle until the ink seemingly disappears will not properly remove the ink. If the ink is not removed, it will likely reappear after the fabric dries days, weeks, months or even years after rinsing, as the ink may reactiviate due to exposure to air or light.
For best results, elect a pen that has a fine point that will make the thinnest line possible, and cover the line with your embroidery. Some less expensive brands of these pens make a thick, ugly line that seeps into the fibers of the fabric. Thick lines are more difficult to completely cover with embroidery floss and are difficult to remove. I suspect that this is where many stitchers run into problems, as so much ink has seeped into the fabric.
I use the DMC pens for marking my fabric for most hand embroidery or surface embroidery project. The lines made by this particular pen are crisp and thin. I’ve never had any problem removing the ink, nor has the ink ever reappeared, because I properly wash each piece after completing the embroidery. There are pieces in my collection that were worked years ago using water-soluble pens, and no traces of ink have reappeared. This is due to properly removing the ink from the fabric.
My best advice is to always test any temporary (or permanent) marking method to make sure performs as expected, and that it doesn’t bleed or smudge making it difficult to follow your stitching lines. If in doubt, use an alternate marking method.
Stitch well, my friends…
When most of us think of cross stitch projects, samplers and framed pictures, ornaments, pillows and pin cushions stitched on evenweave linen or Aida cloth embroidery fabrics are some of the first things that come to mind.
However, some brave and intrepid designers have broken free of the embroidery thread on fabric theme and have branched out into completely different materials.
Last week’s blog about Lithuanian artist Severija is a great example of cross stitch on cast-off metal objects. Here are a few more examples of stitching on unusual items to inspire you!
Stitch on pre-drilled wood items, like Stedi from Etsy has done. This artist’s version of a headboard would be perfect in a child’s room! The technique would also work on other wood items such as picture frames, chair backs and cabinet doors.
You can personalize the mat with a name, initials or favorite saying.
The mat would make a perfect housewarming gift!
Or go HUGE by stitching on pre-punched vinyl or faux leather to make furniture and accessories similar to these handcrafted by GAN.
Try using an awl or a grommet punch to make the stitching holes in faux leather, plastic sheeting or vinyl. An electric drill can be used to make holes in wood, metal and pvc.
Even humble office supplies can be livened up with stitching. This letter holder stitched by Sam Osborne is a terrific example of how a simple mesh item can be turned into a work of office art with embroidery thread.
Next time you are at the hardware store, home improvement center or housewares store, take a look around. There’s a good chance you will find something that can be enhanced with stitching!
First up is this sweet Circus Unicycle embroidery pattern, from the blog Made By Joel.
This sweet pattern would look adorable on a t-shirt, as Joel embroidered his, or as a hoop embroidery. I love how cute it looks in just one thread color!
This beautiful design, inspired by traditional Hungarian embroidery is a free pattern on the blog Untrendy Life.
I love the gorgeous, bright floss colors Dora has used on this sweet design.
Last up, the CrossStitcher is offering free mini cross stitch feather designs on their site. I love the soft palette of DMC floss colors they’ve chosen!
I hope you’ve found some inspiration in this week’s free pattern roundup, and that your weekend is full of stitching!
Lithuanian artist Severija turns trash into treasure by rescuing old metal objects and transforming them with cross stitch.
This artist’s unusual works have been exhibited around the world, and grace the interiors of some of Europe’s chicest buildings.
Pots, pans, cans, shovels, random car parts, car doors – even entire cars – are given new life transformed into amazing pieces to be displayed and enjoyed.
It’s recycling brought to an entirely new level.
In the artist’s statement, Severija states, “In my work, I take pleasure in things that are only insignificant details to most people. An ordinary human being and mundane fragments of his or her life acquire an exceptionally important meaning in my works…
...meanwhile, recognised icons of beauty are less important to me. A banal understanding of beauty and utilitarian things: these are the objects that interest me and inspire creation. Therefore, I use fragments of popular culture, the so-called kitsch, in my art…”
I’m inspired, and will be spending part of the day looking for something I have here in my house that can could be used in a similar manner.
I know I have an old watering can and metal snow shovel in the shed, and I might have a random pot lid, ladle or tray in the kitchen. Those would be a great start.
These amazing images of trash to treasure have me wondering… what is the most unusual thing YOU have stitched on?
And if you’re looking for more inspiration, be sure to check out the slide show on Severija’s web site. Select the “EN” where you see the EN|LI text for the English version.
I’m pleased to announce that we have two new booklets from Leisure Arts available featuring adorable designs you can stitch on our CharlesCraft Ready-to-Stitch Baby Collection using your favorite DMC Embroidery Threads.
Stitch a set of fun, matching Precious Baby bibs for our collection of Plush Pets featuring Dylan Duck, Penny Pig and Madison Monkey. These soft pets are perfect gifts for a child, a new mother, or as a centerpiece for a baby shower.
Or stitch an assortment of Baby Bibs featuring cuddly critters on our ready-made items.
The sweet designs can be stitched on our Baby Soft Infant Bibs featuring a 14-count stitching area in soft, wrinkle-free and stain resistant Royal Classic Aida or Toddler Pullover Bib in an easy to stitch 14-count Aida panel and high thread count ecru velour.
Maybe you experimented with a bit of dyeing for a summer camp project (or in your 90′s college days), but have you ever thought of tie dyeing DMC embroidery floss?
Read her first post to see her dye technique in action; her second post features a free pattern that is GORGEOUS when stitched up with hand-dyed threads. If dyeing is too ambitious for you, I’d try our Color Variations threads on her beautiful pattern.
For more examples of hand-dyed floss, head over to the inspiring blog Dye, Stitch, Repeat where blogger Orlythe recounts her experiences hand dyeing batches of DMC floss and silks.
She walks you through all of her preparatory steps and has lovely photos of her finished threads. Very inspiring!
You’ll find more drool-worthy hand-dyed floss and a helpful tutorial on the blog Adventures of Blue Girl, where Julie walks you through her experiences dyeing floss.
I love the vivid colors she achieved using just a handful of vintage flosses!
Finally, blogger Melanie of American Pie Designs gives a very thorough tutorial for hand dyeing floss using fabric dyes.
She offers plenty of helpful tips, including using knots in your dyeing process to achieve a tie dye effect. Gorgeous work!
So how about it? I think I’ll be trying my hand at some hand dyed DMC flosses this week!