My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Experimenting with coloured pencil on fabric

This weekend has been busy in an unexciting way.  Friday afternoon found me attacking heads with scissors and clippers to deal with an invasion of the goddam nits aka headlice.

I hate the little buggers with a passion.  So now my son now sports a number 3 shave and my girl has a cute chin length bob and I'm exhausted from all the washing - head washing, bed linen washing, head washing again and then all the clothes and soft toys lying round just to make sure.

Fabric medium applied to top two samples.
In between the washings I managed to get some quilting done on the tweets quilt and then a little experimenting with coloured pencils and wax pastels on fabric.  

We were discussing using coloured pencils and fabric mediums at one of our stitching groups lately and how well it would stand up to washing.  Well, I decided to give it a go.  Suz - this is for you!

The first photo above is the pencils - prismacolor pencils and staedtler aquarell (water soluble) - and the caran d'ache neocolor wax pastels (water soluble) applied to the fabric and then liquid fabric medium (Jo Sonya's) painted over the top of the prismacolor and the neocolor.  

(Quick note: fabric medium is stuff you can add to normal acrylic paints to make them fabric paints.)

I forgot to take a pic before I'd put the medium on the first two.  In the next pic you can see the difference when the fabric medium goes on and liquifies the water soluble pencil - it blends beautifully.

Fabric medium applied to all three samples.
I then heat set it with an iron on the reverse side - following the fabric medium's instructions.  Once it was set, I bunged it in the washing machine in a mesh bag and washed it on a regular cycle with some other clothes.

After heat setting and then machine washing and line drying.

Close up of the Caran d'ache Neocolor wax pastels after washing.
None of the colours washed out at all.  Both the pencils are fairly soft and have held up well to the washing.  The pastel colour is thick and rich but as you can see in the closeup, it kind of turned plasticky and sat on the surface, so where there was a crease in the washing process, it's begun to peel and flake.

Nice to have this sample.  I'll tuck it away for future reference and I think I'll stick with using coloured pencil on fabric if I want to use a method like this.


  1. So did washing remove the stiff feeling from the fabric medium (I still haven't gotten around to washing my sample - would need to find it!)? Is it good enough that you would make a quilt out of the technique? Bad luck with the nits... just thinking about them makes me itch!

    1. Yes, washing made is softer. The pastel one remained the stiffest. I don't think I'd want to make a whole bed quilt using the technique, but I'd be happy making a wall hanging (or three!).

  2. Interesting - well worth while experimenting; I guess each one has it's place..?

  3. Great article. When you use the pencils do you tape down the fabric to a flat surface to keep it in place as you work? I'm new to the pencil to fabic world and would appreciate any help you might have.

    1. There's a few methods you can use to stabilise - taping will work a little but you can't turn your work and it can still pull and wrinkle depending how much pressure you put on the pencil marks. You can iron your fabric to freezer paper and that will hold it nicely or you can use a really fine grit sandpaper underneath the fabric. The sandpaper will give a slight texture to your pencil marks depending on how fine the grit is. Have fun experimenting!


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