One of the biggest appeals of embroidery was the ability to create unique and original works. I searched online for various ways to create and transfer patterns. I found a few different techniques, but no guide on how to hand draw a pattern directly on fabric. That may seem like a simple task, but I wondered if there was a best practice. So, I decided to experiment myself.
The logical starting point was using a pencil. It seems like a logical choice- readily available and erasable. So, I gave it a go.
Graphite creates sharp, easy to follow lines, especially when a harder/darker pencil is used. Unfortunately, the fabric was not quite as erasable as I had hoped. Some erasure was possible, but it was incomplete. I tried even rinsing the entire hope and rubbing off the residue. Unfortunately, even that wasn’t perfect.
CONCLUSION: While the pencil is an easy to find, easy to use, budget friendly choice, it leaves behind a trace that may be unsightly. Plus, it doesn’t show up well on darker or textured fabric (like velvet).
White Charcoal Pencil
My second thought was a white charcoal pencil. To be honest, I was a little hesitant to try white charcoal. I’ve ruined a t-shirt or two from accidentally getting black charcoal ingrained into the fabric. But I was willing to give it a go to find a method for darker fabric. (Plus white charcoal isn’t actually charcoal- it’s a chalk derivative- but that’s another post).
Despite my hesitation, white charcoal worked BEAUTIFULLY. It created crisp outlines that were clearly visible. Then, moment of truth- attempting to remove the lines. When an erasure didn’t work, I tried a wet q-tip. This left a slight ghostly shadow. Luckily, a thorough rinse removed the majority of anything left behind.
CONCLUSION: White charcoal (especially in pencil form), is easy to use and budget effective (~$1). While completely erasing the residue takes a bit of effort, it’s possible. Obviously, it doesn’t work well on light fabric.
FriXion Thermal Pens
During my deep dive through google, I came across the Bic FriXion pens. They are a crafting staple since they are normal pens that are removed through heat (either direct or through the friction of erasing). I was intrigued, so I bought a pack.
The pens produced smooth, crisp lines more easily than either types of pencil. Plus, by using different colors, it was possible to edit the drawing without removing the underneath color. Removing the pen with the attached erasure worked well, but using a hairdryer on hot removed everything instantly. It was very cool to watch.
Unfortunately, the removal of the pen wasn’t always consistent. If the lines were too dark they wouldn’t erase completely, so I had to adjust to using light quick strokes.
CONCLUSION: FriXion pens are the easiest to erase of all the methods, but are also the most expensive ($12.00 for a pack of 6). They can leave some residue behind, but less than the graphite pencil. It doesn’t work well on dark fabric.