Friday 30 October 2020

Using Frixon Pens on Fabric - Please DON'T!



I am seeing this again and again on the facebook groups someone gets really excited about finding these new pens or they ask the question what can I use to grid and someone pipes up with oh I have these pens. 

You know the pens? They are the Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens. Absolutely fantastic for what they were designed for. I have a collection of them and I use them all the time on my sudoku. Because I can erase errors I make.  Now someone had the awesome idea that these pens would be fantastic to use to mark fabric for embroidery and cross stitch. I end up on these posts again and again trying to argue with people that think these pens are the next coming and don't understand the impact they can have on your project. I'm hoping this post will get all my arguments in one place and it will help others make a good choice. 

I do want to make a disclaimer ... I always believe that people are allowed to make their own choices and can choose how and why they choose to use certain techniques. If after reading this you still choose to use the pens I can't stop you. But I really hope you read this and think about using them. They aren't worth the risk when there are other options out there. Also to make the point if you use them for their intended purpose as erasable pens for paper you shouldn't worry either.

So why shouldn't you use Pilot Frixion pens for your cross stitching. More importantly why do I feel so strongly about it that I need to write this. 

1. They aren't acid safe. 

What do I mean by this, inks and glues that you use are usually put into two categories. Ones that are free of the sorts of chemicals that will speed up the deterioration of items over time. You will particularly hear about this in the scrapbooking community as a lot of glues and pens aren't acid safe and will fade dyes or cause ugly yellow marks over time. Pilot have outright stated in the product descriptions for this product that they aren't acid safe. But this is particularly talking on paper why does this matter with fabric? 

We make cross stitch projects to love for years and hopefully to hand over to our friends and family to enjoy for many years and why would you want to risk the fabric getting marks over time because you used something that will yellow it before it's time. 

Also I have had it from others that they used these pens on a batik dyed fabric that they wanted to embroider on and it ended up bleaching the fabric. Not the effect she was going for. So not being acid safe they aren't reliable to use on ANY hand dyed fabrics and I wouldn't trust them on anything but white. 


2. Heat or Friction to remove. 

One thing I hear often from people is but all it takes to remove it is the iron. Ohk but what happens if you live in a cold climate? Someone else responded to that once with 'Oh I'll just remove them again' Which is fine if you've finished your piece as a quilt or something but what if you've finished it as a flat finish around cardboard? Or put it behind glass? How are you then going to heat it up to get rid of the lines? If you have the sort of winter weather that we can have here where the days can get quite warm but the nights go cold are you going to reheat it every day? 

This was said in response to one of my comments on facebook not to use these pens. This is not the first time I have had someone respond like this to conversations about the pens. They don't stay away. And depending where you live they will continue to come back.

So heat is not a reliable removal method what about using Friction like you are meant to. While it wouldn't be hard to remove areas that don't have stitches around anything near stitches would be nigh on impossible. At the least you could do damage to your stitches trying to remove with friction. 

3. Time

Every test I have ever seen people remove the ink after at most a day. No one that I know of has tested it over time. How often do you finish a cross stitch project in just days? I have but only little pieces. The pieces I feel the need to grid are rarely projects that will be finished in days. They are honestly likely to be months. Leaving the pen on the fabric without removing for months at a time could a) bring into play issues with being acid safe see point 1 and b) make it even more difficult to remove the pen as the pen settles into the fibers of the fabric. 

Why do I care?

I would hate to see someone putting a huge amount of time into a project and finding that it was destroyed by something as simple as using the wrong pen to grid. Particularly when the people asking are just beginning their cross stitching journey, I don't want you to get discouraged. Particularly because the solution is so easy.

What are the alternatives?

I'm telling you what you shouldn't use but in order to actually help I need to offer you another option. Something that you can use. 

The best option is fishing line. Yes you heard me right. Fishing Line. A thin fishing line as a gridding thread.  Because it is not thread so you can't split it when stitching, it's slippery so can easily be removed. 

You will also find a recommendation for sulky silver metallic thread. It gives the same effect as the fishing line as it's not a twisted yarn so you can't split it with the needle and it's fairly easy to remove from your piece. 

If you really don't want to use one of these thread options there are some pens you can use. Specially marked fabric markers. Only pick pens that are marked as fabric markers. They are usually acid safe and tested with specifically removing from fabric. They are often water based so they will wash out of the fabric easily. I wouldn't trust ones that can only be removed by heat because those sorts of pens can come back. If you are using a darker fabric you can use tailor's chalks. But the problem with these is they are easy to remove from the fabric as you are working without intending to.  BUT even the are not safe. They can still come back and while I recommend them over frixion pens they're not full proof. Have a read of This article as well about this subject. Do your research before touching any pen to your fabric.


I have also heard of people using lead pencils. These don't always clean really well but are a great way to mark something like embroidery where you are stitching over all the lines. I wouldn't rely on this for cross stitch unless you are doing a full coverage piece as you may not be able to remove the lines.

Honestly if you need to grid a piece the best is to take the time to use fishing line. It removes easier than the other options. 

In the end you can make your own decisions and do your own research. Look up archival and acid safe in scrapbooking or preserving clothes. Ask in the facebook groups with an open mind, you will get at least one person commenting on what went wrong with a project. One day I want to do a time test with the frixion markers but I honestly can't be bothered to organise it somehow. 


Happy Stitching,


Wednesday 28 October 2020

Lack of crafting ...

 I don't know what happened this month but I get home from work most days and just collapse! I haven't been motivated to do much so I decided to change crafts for a bit. Usually that's enough to break me out of a crafting funk. 

I bought this book ages ago. It's called Edward's Imaginarium and while I tested out a little bit of it I haven't done much. So I decided to just break out of my funk and crochet myself a monster! I've only just started. I'm about 5 rows further on than this picture but something is happening with it. 

I'm using my Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton in the 8ply so it is so gorgeously soft to work with. I started using my normal go to of acrylic and just didn't enjoy the feel. Then working with the cotton just made me happy! Sometimes it's nice to do something different. 

Oh and just to show something interesting that has been happening.... We had a good lot of rain through yesterday and the park next to my work flooded!

That's usually a green field! But by today it was green again. We're meant to get more rain tonight and I'm really looking forward to it. We've been in a bit of a drought and we need a good growing season.


So curiosity, how do you get out of  a craft funk? 


Happy Stitching, 


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